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Several years ago when we flew to Naples Florida on WestJet, my daughter-in-law’s bag was lost. In spite of calls to the airline and the airports in Toronto and Naples, after several days no one could locate it.
In frustration, my daughter tweeted “Hey #WestJet. Help my wife find her bag.” Within minutes WestJet tweeted back a direct telephone number and the bag appeared later the same day. It seems that the tag tore off so the bag didn’t make the plane. However, once we described it, the agent could easily spot it sitting beside a carousel and put it on the next flight.
So when I read results of the American Express Global Customer Services Barometer revealing that social media is a burgeoning channel for customer service with one in five Canadians (18 per cent) having used social media to get a customer service response at least once in the last year, I was not surprised.
After all, when Canadian consumers use social media to get service, it can directly impact a company’s bottom line. Survey participants reported they would typically spend 5 per cent more with companies who deliver great service.
And they tell others about poor service experiences more often. Three in five (63 per cent) always talk about bad service while just over half (54 per cent) tell their friends about good experiences.
United Airlines is one company that will not soon forget the power of social media. When after nine months of escalating complaints Canadian singer Dave Carroll was still unhappy with the compensation he received for his damaged guitar, he wrote a song called “United breaks guitars,” and posted a video on YouTube.
In a recent blog about the impact of his $150 video, Carroll says, “Over 150 million people have heard my story through traditional media and online forums and it is believed to have affected the stock price of United Airlines by millions of dollars.” Since the incident, Carroll has also been in great demand as a speaker on customer service.
Unfortunately not all companies are prepared to engage in a productive conversation, even when unhappy customers use social media to spread the word. If they were, the Star and Moneyville consumer advocate Ellen Roseman would not have to push over and over to help consumers dealing with the same core group of companies.
When all else fails, I vote with my feet and use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to tell others where not to shop or do business. However, this is definitely more difficult to do where there are only a few players in the industry and all of them seem to have similar customer service problems.
Have you ever successfully used social media to get better consumer service? Share your experience with other readers.