Social Media: The New Customer Service Center?

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I have been a loyal Vonage customer for almost 9 years and decided with the increased use of my cell phone, I no longer needed my land line or my toll-free number – everybody calls my cell.  So, last month, I called to cancel.  I looked on the website to cancel, but they want you to call.  At first, I thought it was quaint – now, I see it for the colossal pain it really is.  Isn’t that funny?  5 years ago, we were demanding to have customer service over the phone.  Now?  Please leave a web cancellation page and my confirmation number.

They started charging my bank card (which I had already canceled out) and sending me emails that I owed $44.18 which I ignored because I thought maybe their system hadn’t caught up.  So I called them again today.  “Anthony” pleasantly took my call, announcing he was my Account Manager and could grant me any wish – including lowering my monthly rate.

“No thanks, just need to disconnect.  I had called last month, but I guess it didn’t take.”  This went on for 40 minutes (I’ll spare you the details.)   I asked to escalate the ticket only to be told “all of our calls are recorded.  We have no record of you calling.”  Really?  9 years of loyalty reduced to no record of me calling?  PLEASE give me a landing page…

So I took the only recourse I know as an internet marketer; I took my plight to my friends on Facebook.  I commented on Vonage’s page.  Within MINUTES, I received an email from Vonage asking for details and they’ll see what they can do to fix it within 24 hours.  Wouldn’t that be great if they waive it?  Wouldn’t it have been better if the all-powerful Account Executive Anthony had just waived it over the phone?  Especially after seeing they had tried to charge my card more than once and their efforts were declined?  Especially after having had me as a customer for 9 years with no record of a late payment?  Really?  Is $44.18 worth having negative banter on Facebook about Vonage?

So now corporations are taking a good hard look at Social media.  There are products out there like Radian 6 which allow you to monitor customer comments – the good, bad and ugly.  They allow people like Jennifer from Vonage to respond within minutes of my complaint and escalate it far faster than a call or email through the traditional company channels.  And it’s paying off.  If corporations want to be seen as humans, they’d better start acting like them.  That means responding with care, concern, and most importantly, solutions.  “I’m sorry that happened to you.  Let me take a look at what’s going on and I’ll be in touch within 24 hours.”  Not: “We record all our calls and see no record of your disconnect.   No, we don’t really care that you were with us for 9 years.  I’ll leave you on hold for 40 minutes to escalate your ticket while, in all actuality, I’m snagging a Coke out of the vending machine.”

Jennifer from Vonage responded publicly on their page.  She emailed me promptly.  She did what she promised she would do.  Social media matters – now more than ever.  Now, let’s step back.  If Jennifer goes forward and waives the $44.18, wouldn’t that make Vonage look like a hero?  Okay, now I can hear Vonage saying “if we do it for one person, we need to do it for everyone.”  Then change your policies, Vonage.  Make it easy for me to buy from you and easy for me to praise you and easy for me to cancel my service.  And give Jennifer a raise.

Yes, breaking up is hard to do – especially in public.

UPDATE:  I received a call and an email late yesterday afternoon waiving the $44.18 charge.  Vonage apologized for the hold-up and thanked me for my loyalty.  Thanks, Vonage, that’s the company I remember you being.

There is power in social media – pay attention Corporate America and beyond.

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