Social Media's Influence On Customer Service


I want to tell you a customer service story that does not have an ending. It is a true story that could happen to any company.

eMail From A Stranger by Toby at Diva Marketing

Once upon a time .. (all good stories start with once upon a time) .. A man was working in the PR Department of a Fortune 500 financial company. Oh .. call it Capital One. He probably thought his company was a pretty good place to work. In fact, maybe it was even named one of FORTUNE Magazine's 100 Best Companies to Work For. One day out of the blue he received an email from a stranger -

Hugh_gaping_void_better_products_1Dear Mr. S -

I wanted to bring to your attention a post written by one of your customers, Millie Garfield. Mrs. Garfield has experienced some exceptionally poor customer service, and if Capital One is not monitoring social media, I thought you might be interested in reading her post -

In addition to the fact that I'm sure Capital One would not want an unhappy customer, what makes this even more important for the organization is the visibility the situation has been given on Mrs. Garfield's highly popular blog. I would encourage you to read the comment sections as well. MyMomsBlog has been highlighted in main stream media publications like the Washington Post and the Boston Globe. The word-of-mouth influence, online and offline, could be significant and damaging.

Your organization might consider contacting Mrs. Garfield and posting a comment on her blog that offers a solution. My thoughts are that Mrs. Garfield's situation with Capital One is one that many other people are experiencing.

In this new world of easy online publishing (blogs, podcasts, vlogs) that reach not a few, not a hundred, but thousands of people with a click and then spread virally, it is becoming critical to listen and join our customers in their discussions.

Very best.

Toby Bloomberg
Bloomberg Marketing
~Strategic Marketing & Social Media Consultancy~

I wonder what Mr. S did with the email from a stranger. I wonder if he hit delete. I wonder if he forwarded it to his boss. I wonder if the company who made the Fortune 100 Best Places To Work List will care about one customer. It just so happens that one customer is an 81 year old Divine Diva whose blog has the reach and influence of more than many main stream media vehicles.

A reminder: not all consumer generated media casts a negative veiw of a product or service. That brings up another question. What do you do when something good happens to bring postive buzz to your brand? What would your mother tell you to do if someone said something nice about you? Why thank them kindly I'm sure!

What is important is social media is impacting how companies conduct business .. even if those companies don't know it.

Which in turn influences how your brand is perceived. Which in turn develops customer loyalty. Which in turn makes the cash register ring. Which in turn keeps your share holders happy with increased ROI. Which in turn puts smiles on your employees since they have jobs. Which in turn might get you on Fortune Magazine's 100 Best Companies To Work For List.

I wonder how this story will end .. or if it has ended.

Thanks to Gaping Void for the graphic.

To be continued ..

Read Diva Marketing's Follow-up post: Social Media's Positive Influence on Customer Service


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» Customer Service: Is Business Paying Attention? from Quality Service Marketing
That’s the question I’m left with after reading Toby Bloomberg’s recent posts, “Social Media’s Influence on Customer Service” followed by “Social Media’s Positive Influence on Customer Service.” To whet your appetite - or if you’re pressed for time - h... [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 27, 2007 7:36:30 AM


Wow Toby, this is a prime example of what listening to the blogosphere can do for a company. I would be very interested in knowing whether Capital One responds and if not I would like to follow up with them myself. Perhaps if we ask enough we'll get an answer. Perhaps Mrs. Garfield will be able to tell of a good story about Capital One or perhaps she'll be swept off her feet by a new company that pays attention. Do I hear you out there Discover? Perhaps Capital One could be the card preferred by bloggers. At 67 Million of us, I'm sure a company might want to pay attention.

Posted by: Jim Turner on Feb 13, 2007 1:36:01 PM

I think what the problem -- and the reason why the letter may not be read -- is that the company does not think there is a problem. They may not experience the impact of that until it's too late... and then they'll need to react, and backtrack, and engage + spend more resources; not to mention loss of reputation, which is generally hard to rebuild quickly.

I am working on a similar post for my weekly FC Expert blog -- and I will credit your experience as well; especially since it is within the same industry and service. Well done, Toby!

Posted by: Valeria Maltoni on Feb 13, 2007 6:22:00 PM

Here's the problem: If Capital One did take the time to read your email, their thought likely was 'Who cares, it's just ONE BLOGGER'. Since they likely aren't familiar with how ideas spread in the blogosphere, they aren't familiar with the fact that a post by ONE BLOGGER can literally circle the WORLD in minutes. And just as a complaint that goes unnoticed can be picked up by other blogs (such as Diva Marketing), a company that takes the time to address their customers' complaints, will have their praises sung far and wide throughout the blogosphere.

But alas, many companies learn this lesson the hard way.

Posted by: Mack Collier on Feb 13, 2007 8:40:14 PM

From one diva to another, I love your blog. Keep up the great stuff!

Also, wanted to let you know that you've been tagged:

Posted by: Miss Moxie on Feb 15, 2007 3:25:20 AM

Toby I am looking forward to hearing the end of this story. I too have brought to the attention of clients comments that have been made on blogs and what they should do to address them. Negative customer service or the positive excitement of getting married and being registered on their site.

True, I don't think they understand the true impact of the blogosphere. More importantly, I think they are afraid. Those in the mainstream who just hear about the blogosphere through the media, only hear about the times companies have been flamed. Never about the times where they have been complemented. Maybe showing examples of positive experiences would help here.

Posted by: Teresa Caro on Feb 15, 2007 6:33:28 AM


I have a story of a company who does monitor social media. I made a post on my blog about how a Radio Shack employee rescued my day and within a couple hours Radio Shack corporate contacted me wanting to know the employees name and the store so they could congratulate him and share the customer success story with other Radio Shack stores in their company newsletter.

You can read the story here. Basically I brought a big box of cords in with my laptop and dumped it on the counter and said, "Help me make this work - I'll buy whatever extra cords and gadgets I need, please just help me." And he did!

You can read the story here:

Posted by: Kristie Tamsevicius on Feb 15, 2007 7:13:57 AM

I just heard that TJX is switching credit card providers and will be coming out with a new Chase TJX card with the same features as your old card.

Stay tuned.

Posted by: steve garfield on Feb 17, 2007 9:36:24 PM


Thank you for personally forwarding this post to me. I agree that many companies do not monitor their presence in the blogsphere enough. Alot of companies are still in the mindframe, "We have an excellent website, isn't that enough?" What many don't fully realize is that the web isn't just a one-way advertising vehicle, it's a multi-lane communications highway.

Posted by: Michael Anders, CEO Broadgate Businss Financial on Feb 20, 2007 3:28:16 PM

There is an overlap between customer service and marketing. The two are actually one and the same. Customer service is an opportunity to touch a customer or a newly converted prospect and build a continuing relationship. And this isn’t something you can overlook. Customers today are more empowered than ever to influence a business; they can help it and they can hurt it. They can go to a blog and post things about that company.So customer service is so important as part of providing an overall good experience, which is why it can’t be looked at as a cost center.
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Posted by: samflutch on Aug 11, 2008 3:09:47 AM

Customer service is one of the best uses of social media and can have a major impact on corporate brand and reputation. Many companies are now turning to social media to improve relationships with customers by providing a better customer experience.

Posted by: Live Answering Service on Oct 7, 2010 2:17:22 AM

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