In Baton Rouge, the local NBC affiliate has been in a contract dispute with cable provider Cox Communications. The dispute is over fees that are paid from the cable provider to the individual stations for allowing the cable provider access to include their product as part of the service that the cable company provides. The dispute has led to NBC being pulled off the air for cable customers. This blog is not about who is right and who is wrong in the dispute. This blog is about how a customer complaint turned into a “how to” and “how not to” engage on Twitter and about how you handle customers while the dispute is ongoing.
I am one of those cable customers, and when I went to watch Saturday Night Live last week, I was greeted with this image:
Naturally, I was less than satisfied as a customer, so I decided to tweet about it. According to Hubspot, close to three quarters of people who complain on twitter about a product or service expect a response, and a majority of those expect that response within the hour. I can't say I was necessarilly expecting a response at first. More to the point, I was seeing if any of my friends may have been in the same boat as me and could relate. But, once the ball got rolling, it certainly evolved. Below is a collection of screen grabs that came of that tweet. I found the conversation to be intriguing at the time. After it was over, I realized there were a number of lessons in the appropriate use of social media in marketing.
And as you can see, Cox responded. Almost everything looks good, except for one thing. They decided to let me know that the Local NBC affiliate is at fault. Technically, there’s nothing wrong with that, but to me it reads like a child saying, “I didn’t do it.” So, I responded:
I have to admit, that answer kind of ticked me off, as you could see in my response. But nonetheless, they are engaged ad doing their job from a customer service stand point… and here’s where it got interesting:
Dish??? Who invited you to this party? OK, no big deal. They see an opportunity to introduce themselves to a potential customer who is clearly not happy with his present service. But did you read what they said? They’re trying to sell me… In one tweet? How about a gentle introduction? How about letting me know why you are good at what you do and why I won’t have a similar experience with your service? They didn’t go that route. They went for the close right out of the blocks. It reminds me of an interaction that Gary Vaynerchuk had during a Q&A following a keynote speech. Watch this two minute video, and you'll understand why trying to close a perfect stranger is a bad idea (you'll also understand why I highly recommend reading everything Gary Vee's has written)
You're not Alec Baldwin in Glengary Glen Ross. I'm not about to "sign on the line which is dotted." Unfortunately for Dish, I have a neighbor who has had an awful time dealing with their service, so I responded with that anecdotal knowledge. Here's the last two screen grabs:
That first tweet that tried to sell me really left a bad taste in my mouth. What started with me being upset with Cox has turned into me defending them. Dish couldn’t have done more for their competition if they tried. And did you see AT&T try to get in the act? They had the same approach as Dish, but directed their pitch to the wrong guy, a friend of mine who was enjoying the exchange as much as I was.
Twitter for business: the do's and don't's:
I have three main takeaways from this situation. One of them falls into the "do" category. The other two are definite "do not's."
- Always respond to a customer’s social media complaint. Even the wrong answer shows engagement.
- Don’t try to close someone on your very first social media interaction. No one signed up for twitter so that someone else could sell them something, and this company was trying to sell me on Twitter.
- Did you notice who was glaringly absent from this whole exchange? Go back to my first tweet on the subject. I tagged both @CoxComm and @nbcbatonrouge. This exchange took place a full week ago, and @nbcbatonrouge has yet to get involved. Why have a twitter account if you’re not going to have a twitter presence?