Wednesday, June 06, 2012
Customer Service in A Social Media World By ©Karen Susman
It was said that a dissatisfied customer complained to eleven people. That was before facebook, twitter and YouTube came on the scene. Now you can complain to thousands or millions while you're waiting on hold for the next available customer service representative.
Recently I heard the story of Dave Carroll whose guitar was broken on a United Airlines flight from Canada to Omaha. Passengers looking out the window actually saw the baggage handlers carelessly throwing the guitar around. Dave plays the guitar in a band and the band was on its way to play a gig in Nebraska. He didn't have time to complain to United until a few days later. United personnel up through the ranks told Dave they couldn't help him because United's policy is that you must make your claim within 24 hours.
This was an expensive guitar and Dave was not about to let United off the hook. Instead of suing, Dave wrote a song, "When United Breaks Guitars," and posted it on YouTube. He's a talented songwriter. In a few days, Dave's video complaint had thousands of viewers. Today, two years later, Dave has shared his complaint with over twelve million viewers.
Not only that, but Dave has written a book, When United Breaks Guitars, and two more songs about the United incident. Dave, in addition to playing his new guitar in his band, has become an international speaker on the customer experience. Dave's late guitar was a Taylor. Taylor got so much publicity from the song and sold so many guitars that it gave Dave one or two new guitars so he could accompany his song of complaint in style.
Just sharing this story with you has spread Dave's complaint way beyond the 11 people of the olden days. Service providers, vendors, stores, banks, etc., beware!
Even without the huge wingspan of social media, sharing complaints is a cathartic way to pass the time. Last week at a birthday lunch I shared with my siblings, we fought for a turn at telling our tale of the latest bad customer service experience. One sister was sent a letter stating that her utility bill was overdue and her power was about to be turned off. The robot on the phone told her that her account had a zero balance due. When she talked to a real live person, there were no apologies or reassurances.
Another sister was given the wrong prescription at the drug store. Fortunately, she double checked the label and returned the pills. There was no apology for what could have been a deadly mistake. My brother picked up three prescriptions from the pharmacy. He noticed he was only charged for two. He went back to the pharmacy to pay what he owed. The manager took his money without making eye contact or thanking him for the payment and his honesty.
I wanted in on the complaint fest, too. I got a letter from my credit union stating that I owed $12.54 on my car payment. I thought this was a late fee. When I checked my bank statement, the check had cleared on time. After five phone calls and several hours of my time, it turns out there was a computer glitch. No one bothered to let me know of the glitch or that it had been corrected.
Here was a table of siblings getting great joy venting. We named names. This may not be as powerful as writing a song and getting it on YouTube, but who's to say we won't do that?
First draft of my customer service complaint song:
"I paid my loan payment. It was right on time.
Then I got a letter saying I was way behind.
It took me several hours to track down the truth.
There was never an apology. That's really uncouth.
Refrain: Oh Credit Union, Oh Credit Union.
Don't take me for granted, please.
Great customers like me
Don't grow on trees.
Oh Credit Union, Oh Credit Union.
Do you think I'm a rube?
Better watch out or
I'll post this on YouTube."