Using Social Media to Keep Companies Accountable
Whether we like it or not, social media has become a very important and large part of our day-to-day lives. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest… we use so many different social media mediums to communicate with each other and the world around us.
I must admit, I was very wary of Twitter. I didn’t know what the fuss was all about. How can 140 characters per “tweet” convey the message you want across to other twitter account holders around you? What was the point of Twitter? Wasn’t it just like Facebook status updates… but all the time?
After 2+ years of using Twitter, I have become a Twitter addict. It’s helpful for me to keep up with the latest news or smut (like Avril Lavigne and Chad Kroeger’s recent engagement) and more importantly, I have used it with good success to keep companies accountable. In my opinion, it has really changed the landscape of customer service… but in a good way.
Companies, especially large companies or new companies, want to make sure that the public has a good opinion of their business. They will do whatever it takes to keep the customer happy. With Twitter, the “customer is always right” adage rings true. In a recent article in The Guardian that talked about complaining on twitter for an instantaneous response, more and more companies are getting Twitter accounts solely as a sounding board for customer feedback.
Here are a few examples of why you should sign up an account with Twitter, especially if you are interested in accountability in the companies you regularly do business with.
I hunt down the twitter handle for companies that I was have trouble reaching via telephone. For example, I once had a flight with Cathay Pacific on a trip to Bali using some points and it is notoriously difficult to contact the Asia Miles department. One time, I was on hold for two hours to get to a ring tone and have it suddenly hang up on me. Another time, you get a message that the “call volume” is very high so please call back again. You can’t even email them because they don’t have an email system set up. It was very frustrating.
In my frustration, I put a call out to the twitterverse and to the Asia Miles department/ Cathay Pacific. Well, technically I complained publically on twitter and tagged the company. Within an hour or two, I get a DM (Direct Message) asking me for my reward card number. After that, I get a call almost right away from the company and they help me with my inquiry.
Another twitter customer service example that comes to mind involves Orbitz (which as you probably already know, is the online travel booking company). I booked with Orbitz recently for a hotel stay. I paid Orbitz already and stayed at the hotel. A week later, I check my credit card statement online and see that I was charged directly from the hotel.
Panicking, I thought that perhaps they billed me for damage to the hotel room (not that I damaged the hotel room, but sometimes I get paranoid like that). I then called the hotel directly and they informed me that they will look into it and that they would call me back.
Being the antsy person that I was, I contacted Orbitz customer care via twitter. I tweeted Orbitz customer care and was given another DM almost immediately. She then asked me to email her my phone number and she proceeded to give me a call to investigate what had happened.
Not only did she investigate what happened, she gave me a detailed rationale for what went wrong. She also explained that the charge will come off my credit card statement the next day. To top it off, a week later, they sent me another email thanking me for my patience and apologizing for the inconvenience, with a $50 voucher for my next Orbitz booked travel. Talk about great customer service!
I am confident that if I were to call directly to these companies instead of somewhat “publically” announcing my distaste with the customer service, then I would have not received the 5 star treatment that I did.
Now, I’m not sure whether businesses and companies that have a vested interest in maintaining a positive public perception look at whether you have 10 followers or 1000 twitter followers. My hope is that they treat all customers equally despite the number of twitter followers the customer has.
Readers, have you had a positive or negative experience with companies on twitter you would like to share?
About the Author: Clare is a 20-something who lives in beautiful (but expensive) British Columbia and has been working on her frugal living skills and fighting lifestyle inflation. She works to expand her DIY investment knowledge and hopes to enjoy financial independence one day. She enjoys reading personal finance books, freelance writing, but not so much arithmetic.