Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Social Media and Customer Service: Part 2

Very recently after a bit of shopping and late dinner, I stepped into Ben & Jerry's (an ice cream company and part of Unilever Group) outlet in Leidsplein in Amsterdam. What should have been a sweet experience turned out to be bitter after encountering a service representative at the counter. The young girl  at the counter was surprisingly rude and condescending. Either she was young and untrained or she had forgotten her customer service training.

I was very upset. Partly to rant and partly to give feedback to the organization, I chose to tweet about my experience.

Next morning, I received a reply from Ben & Jerry's NL handle asking me to DM/mail my complaint. I wrote a detailed mail to the company about my experience at the outlet. Three days passed and I didn't get a response. And I tweeted back. This time I got a response that someone will reply on mail.

Soon, I received an email. The representative thanked me for feedback and promised to "make-up" for the bad experience.

Though I was heard, apologized to and "promised to make up to it", I felt their social media customer service was not evolved. Pretty much like the customer service girl at the counter, I felt the social media representatives were untrained to handle complaints. Or probably they were not trained otherwise.

And here is why?

Two things that irritated me were the usage of "Chunky Thanks" and "(n)ice" while I was giving feedback. Here is what corporate houses that use social media have to keep in mind.

  1. Respond appropriately: Earlier I had somewhat similar experience with redBus, too. Customer Service Executives handling social media complaints are probably are not trained to handle the complaints in a holistic manner. It feels as if just responding is counted as victory in social media. There is no follow through or closing the complaint. 
  2. Using associations properly: While it would have been quite appropriate and positive reinforcement to use "Chunky" and "(n)ice" words if one was a happy customer. But when someone is complaining, it only acts as further irritant. Companies have to be careful to tailor their responses according to the situation. 

Maybe social media customer service is quite nascent and hence companies recruit very young and over enthusiastic kids. One doesn't usually come across immature response say in more evolved form of customer service channels such as call center or chat or email. It is probably time then for organizations to consider the channel more seriously. Or maybe corporate houses do consider it seriously and have process; my experience probably is an exception. 

PS: Ben & Jerry's did "make it up". They sent me a branded ice cream spoon! Unfortunately, I don't eat ice cream much and I am little old to be excited with the spoon. If someone wants it, I will be willing to give it away. 

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