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Kathi Kruse

Kathi Kruse President

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Social Customer Service: Your Online Reputation Unplugged

social customer service your online reputation unpluggedWhat We Do Trumps What We Say Every Time.

A few days ago I watched the awesome Scott Stratten at Blog World NYC remind me of that truth when he talked about misfires companies have with Social Media and customer service.  Ironically, his words perfectly fit my experience last week with Delta Airlines.  I love it when life imitates art.

We all love a good #fail story, right?  There’s just something about a “train wreck” that you can’t look away.  Airlines are an easy target, I’ll grant you, and why is that? Because they fail their customers so often and so catastrophically.  The experience on both my outbound and inbound flights from LAX to JFK is a prime example.

Before my flight, I called Delta Customer Service to make sure they offered AC power and WiFi on board.  I was told “yes” to both.  Once I boarded the plane, imagine my surprise to find no AC power.  Noted in the “fine print” of the vomit-bag magazine I learned that, oh, the AC power is only available in 1st class!  Bummer, I didn’t bring my extension cord.  And the WiFi?  It was $17.95 and slower than dial-up circa 1998.

I tweeted and Facebooked my reaction.  I have yet to get a reply.  Customer Service unplugged.

My return flight was even better and it’s actually what prompted this post.  While we were sitting on the tarmac stuffed into our seats like sardines, after paying $25 for each checked bag, apparently it’s now customary to play an unimaginative, corporate-sponsored video from the Chairman of the Board of Delta.  We were literally a captive audience.  In the video, he’s welcoming me with his corporate smile, talking about his “world-class team” and how wonderful it is to fly on Delta.  Meanwhile, I feel about as welcome as a turd in a swimming pool.

Mr. Chairman, it’s up to me whether or not it’s wonderful to fly on Delta.  I was shocked at how little leg room there was in coach.  I’m not a tall person and there was less than 2″ between my knees and the seat in front.  Imagine what it was like for the guy next to me who was easily 6’4″.  His legs were so cramped he could barely move, traveling 6 hours from JFK to LAX at 9:00 pm.

The service was non-existent.  They came by one time with beverages.  Now, I have to admit that I don’t fly across country that often so maybe things have changed a lot.  Maybe people are more tolerable now.  Maybe we’ve been abused for so long that inferior customer service feels acceptable.  It was so bad that I didn’t even bother tweeting.  The energy I’d invested in my earlier tweet was squandered.  My dissatisfaction grew into apathy.

I doesn’t matter how many times you say you’re awesome if your customers have an experience telling them otherwise.

One thing that never changes is how we feel when we receive stellar customer service. We remember it because we felt something uniquely positive.  Stellar customer service establishes and nurtures trust.  It’s remarkable and we keep coming back for more.

Customer response is measured in seconds.  You must be responsive.  If you want to be on Social, then you have to commit to being on Social.  The fact that Delta never responded to me opened the door for further reaction.  Customers just want to know you’re out there caring about them.  What Delta did trumped what Delta said.

Don’t try to have a Social presence without being present!

33% of Americans follow brands/companies on Facebook & Twitter.  That number has doubled in past 2 years.  In Social customer service, you don’t make the rules, the customer does.  It’s about the customer and how they want to contact you.  Are you there….listening?

Don’t be unplugged. Have you ever thought about Saturdays?  Saturday is a dangerous day for dealership Social Media.  Don’t make the mistake of tuning out Social just when your customers have the most time to respond.

The numbers are in (thanks to Tom Webster): 47% of American consumers in 2012 say Social networks influence their buying decisions. That’s doubled from 24% in 2011.  It’s fascinating to see 29% of online Americans check Twitter several times daily. That’s an 11% increase year-over-year.

Social Media is real-time evidence of your store’s mission statement.  Is what you’re saying in tandem with what you’re doing?

Your Turn: Have you had a negative customer review lately?  How did you respond?  How did they respond?

Kathi Kruse
Social Media Coaching & Training 

Jim Bell
Great points to take to heart Kathi. I feel your pain on those long flights and had a similar experience not doing work prior to getting on the flight that was supposed to have wifi, and then it was down and I was then behind. When customers are social, we have to be social with them. I tweeted at Delta, and nothing so I can say that I've been there and done that.
Kathi Kruse
Thanks Jim. The conversation continues about Delta now that you've shared your story with us. They're not listening, so this is how it spreads. This same action can and does happen about dealerships. No matter how negative, it's always best to try to defuse it. Businesses are all learning and finding their way. I just wish Delta (with all their manpower and budget) got the message.

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