Social Media's Positive Influence On Customer Service


Oxymoron_tm Does the title of this post "Social Media's Positive Influence On Customer Service" sound like an oxymoron to you?

Earlier this week I wrote about my dear friend Millie Garfield's, MyMomsBlog, unhappy experience with a major financial institution - Capital One. Not knowing if Capital One was in tune with monitoring the blog buzz I searched thru their corporate site and eventually found an email link to a person in the PR department (which let me tell you girlfriend was no small feat!). I kindly sent off an "e" - posted on  Social Media's Influence On Customer Service. Well, I thought it was nice of me to go through the trouble. I mean if your company isn't tracking the buzz about your brands and an influencer blog like MyMomsBlog was dishing a product wouldn't you want to know?

Social media and customer care is on the minds of other people this week. Diva Valeria Maltoni's Fast Company Expert Blogger post, Chasing Customers Away, addresses the issue of the impact of social media (with reference to the Diva Marketing's post) and asks this question:

In this new business context where social media is gaining in credibility and scope can you afford to ignore these inquiries?

Sidebar: Valeria writes about customer communications. I found it amusing that that Fast Company is listing her blog under the category of Innovation. Sadly, Fast Company may be right. Excellent customer care might well be an innovative strategy. 

Let's spin this in a positive direction. I've written several atta good company posts .. even about the TSA. Teresa Caro's comment may hold some of the answers to our questions.

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.

Let's take our clue from Teresa. Here's the challenge .. drop a comment about examples where bloggers have said nice things about their customer service experiences AND the company has responded back to the blogger. And to do nice things for you - a surprise Diva treat to a Max randomly selected blogger or perhaps two.

To get this started here are two positive social media customer service examples.

Unilever - Heard this from the diva divine Charlene Li, Forrester Research, at New Communication Forum 2006. As the story goes .. Dan Entin couldn't find his fav deodorant - Degree For Men. He did what many a blogger might do and posted about his quest on his blog Two Percent Nation. Unilever was listening and sent him a carton of Degree. 

Kudos to Mike for seeing what I wrote and taking action to make a loyal customer even more devoted.

Radio Shack - Kristie's, WebMomz, experience is about a Radio Shack sales clerk who spent 20 minutes hooking up all the assorted cords and parts and actually did some test recordings till we got everything working. Now that’s service! Here's the comment from Radio Shack manager Tony Rosen

Thanks for the positive feedback Kristie. It appreciate the recognition you sent to my company. It always feels good to know i did something positive for a customer, we usually only get to hear about the negative. Hope everything worked out for you, and look forward to seeing you in my store in the future.

When it's all said and done, customer delight has to do with letting people know -  "You matter. I hear you. I'm paying attention to you."  In this world that spins too fast, consistent customer delight is one of the most powerful branding strategies you can put into play. Using social media, honestly and transparently, to help get that message across makes good business sense.

However, there's another element that reinforces the importance of using social media as a customer service tactic. The element of trust.  Edelman conducts an annual a multi-country research study seeking to understand the state of trust in institutions. In Richard Edelman's summary of the Edelman Trust Barometer 2007 he says -

  • The remarkable rise of the “Person Like Yourself” as credible spokesperson from 2003-6 (from 22% to 68% in the US in that period) saw a decline this year (in the US, trusted by 51%), but still ranks as the #1 trusted spokesperson in most of the countries surveyed.
  • There is a general decline in trust in all spokespeople and sources of information. That means a company must tell its story consistently and in multiple venues in order to achieve trust.

To wrap this one .. your story: 1. a positive experience with a brand that you have posted on your blog 2. the company responded back to you.

To be continued ..


Trackback url:


Hi Toby,

I had such an experience in 2005 when I posted about a problem with Jiffy Lube that had been resolved satisfactorily by the store's manager:

Within a day or so, I'd received an e-mail from Jiffy Lube's PR agency, Cone, asking if I would mind if they used my post in the company's internal newsletter. They also wanted to know which Jiffy Lube location and manager had been involved.

I was impressed that Jiffy Lube had someone monitoring the blogosphere that closely. I wonder what they do when they discover a post about an unresolved problem.

Posted by: Jane on Feb 15, 2007 6:35:34 PM

On a nonprofit note, a while ago I wrote about my experience donating blood and how the Red Cross had made it so easy to make an appointment and be reminded for the next time I was eligible to donate. I got very nice notes from the public affairs manager and the online marketing manager for the Red Cross in my region thanking me for my post and offering to take me on a tour of their new state-of-the-art blood processing facility. I was quite impressed.

Posted by: Nedra Weinreich on Feb 15, 2007 7:45:31 PM

I agree, I don't think the blogosphere is really taken all that seriously. Yet, we're having an affect on elections, mass media and business. I remember the story from last year of the photographer who got scammed on a new camera purchase by a camera store online. He blogged about it, it went viral and not only did the camera store go out of business, the owners were prosecuted for fraud.

Posted by: Dawud Miracle on Feb 15, 2007 8:42:51 PM

Toby, what a fascinating series of posts! I wonder if Capital One realizes the negative brand and sales impact this has on prospective customers as Millie's and your posts wing their way through the blogosphere. Consider me now a "former" prospect for a Capital One card ... so much for the power of word-of-mouse! You really nailed it with the message "You matter. I hear you. I'm paying attention to you." That's not just customer delight - it's Customer-Focus 101.

Posted by: Sybil on Feb 19, 2007 2:13:48 PM

Hi guys! I don't have any personal stories myself where I have posted a positive blog post about a company and received acknowledgement from that company. What I will say though is that as a marketing professional (I work in insurance marketing), I do love to read these kinds of stories. More and more companies need to read the blogs that are written about them and acknowledge them. It's good PR and it's great for their reputation!

Posted by: Michaela Roberts on Feb 24, 2007 12:15:54 AM

The comments to this entry are closed.