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Turn anger into warm fuzzies: why social media monitoring is important.

8 March 2011

Think your small business has no use for social media? Don’t see any point in being on Twitter? Think again. Check out this story.

After driving from Wisconsin to Southern California with a trailer in tow, the van was due for a service. I had made an appointment for 8:40, leaving us what should have been plenty of time to make it to a meeting we had loosely scheduled for 10:00 We wanted to get the van back as soon as it was finished so we could make our way back to Solvang for our meeting. The customer lounge at the Ford dealership was clearly an afterthought, and was less than welcoming so we went out searching for greener pastures. We asked them if they could call us as soon as the service was done, they confirmed my cell phone number and said “no problem.” Awesome; we set out for a coffee shop down the street.

An hour passed, and I started watching for a phone call. At ten minutes to 10:00, I made a call to push our meeting back. At 10:20, approaching two hours after we had handed over the keys, I finally called in to the number that was listed on Google Places for the Ford dealer in Buellton. It turns out that number was for the sales department, and they couldn’t transfer me. So I called again.

“Service”
“Umm… Hi, I had my van in for service for Trek Travel. I was wondering if it was done. I aske…”
“Who was your tech?”
“Uh, I’m not sure.”

I heard a groan on the other end and I was abruptly put on hold.

Then someone else picked up the phone and asked again what I needed. I explained the situation again, and was told that the van was ready to go.

At this point I wasn’t super happy. Each of the infractions – failure to call when promised, inability to transfer me, and general rudeness on the phone – wouldn’t have been a big deal individually, but they compounded into an unhappy customer – me.

So what else would I do? I tweeted it. “Customer service at Jim Vreeland Ford in Buellton, not exactly a home run.”

I expected that to be the end of it. I picked up the van. They had done everything we asked them to. The service itself was great. The customer service was lacking, but at that point it was behind me. I’m not generally one to dwell on things like this.

You can imagine my surprise when I woke up this morning followed on Twitter by @FordCustService, and sent a couple messages: “Sorry 2 hear about the negative experience w/ur [sic] dealership. I would like 2 look into this situation further. Plz DM w/details so…” “that I may document your concern & use the feedback to improve customer service. Provide contact info, VIN & mileage. Thank you!”

After I responded, explaining the situation over several DMs (sometimes being limited by 140 characters is challenging), I received this response. “Thanks for providing us that information. I am glad that the actual service on the van went well. We will utilize this feedback…” “to help improve future customer service experiences. Have a great rest of your Tuesday! 🙂 ^SA”

I was impressed. I tweeted the following in response, “Every time I turn around, I’m impressed by Ford – setting a high standard for American car makers. Thank you @FordCustService!”

Do you see what happened there? I didn’t ask for anything. I didn’t even ask that my complaint be acknowledged. By monitoring social media channels, Ford was able to take a situation where I wasn’t super happy about my customer service experience and turn that around. It didn’t cost them anything. They didn’t have to offer me a free service or a discount off anything. All they had to do was demonstrate that they were listening, and that they wanted to use my bad experience to improve customer service for future customers. I went from being mildly annoyed with one dealer to raving about how great Ford was, and all it took was a tweet.

After that, can you still tell me that monitoring social media is a waste of time? It doesn’t take a lot of effort, and the payoff can be huge. If you are a business, whether small or large, take the time to see what people are saying about you on the internet. It is worth your time.

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From → Social Media

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