Social Media & Public Customer Service

There’s obviously more to running a business’ social media account than there seems to be. Otherwise we’d all be at it. But it seems that some businesses don’t really get it. I think it’s one of those things that your business either does, or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, then (maybe) you’re missing an opportunity and (almost certainly) you will make some people on Twitter very annoyed:

“OMG! Like, [Brand X] isn’t even on Twitter! Talk about backward! Ugh!”

Those individuals are perhaps forgetting that there’s a whole other world out there that doesn’t rely on social media in the same way that it relies on oxygen, and gets on with life just fine.

But if your business does do social media, then the expectation is that it has to be all in. There is no halfway house here. That’s even worse than not doing social media at all. And you’ve got to do it correctly. History is littered with horrendous social media own goals from just about every company ever, as the hoards of Offendatrons seeking outrage at the slightest misinterpretation or misplaced word in those 140 characters are ready to jump – loudly – all over your case.
Yes, social media is the public face of your company to anyone using Facebook or Twitter, and if you mess up there, you mess up in front of (potentially) hundreds of thousands of individuals, some of whom may once have been future customers.

Oops.

Fortunately, there’s always another social media outrage bus to jump onto, and the public’s memory is short, meaning that these ‘scandals’ don’t last long.

But what if you were to use these facts to your advantage? What if you were to brand all your company’s easily-distinguishable, bright red vehicles with your twitter handle, inviting public engagement, and then used the public face of twitter to appear caring and on the ball when negative comments came your way, but then – once people had swiftly moved on – actually did nothing about addressing the problem?

Step forward then, catchily-named Sport 24 hrs Taxis – they’re @Sport24hrsSA on twitter. And I was “rather disappointed” by the quality of the driving and maintenance on one of their vehicles last week. When I contacted them on twitter, they replied within 5 minutes. Evidently, Sport 24 hrs Taxis are one of those “all-in” companies who “do” social media.

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Impressive response time. And  taking it private sounds like a plan, because actually no-one else really cares about the outcome, which will surely be something along the lines of “Sorry about all that. We’ve told the driver not to use his phone while driving and we’ve fixed the brake light”, right?

There was a hitch though – Twitter rules mean that I couldn’t DM them (send them a direct message), because they didn’t follow me on the popular microblogging service. Silly people.

Still, there are other ways to get in touch with me, as I let them know, (right after I had made the kids some dinner):

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And so they got in touch with me and they said “Sorry about all that. We’ve told the driver not to use his phone while driving and we’ve fixed the brake light”.

Except: no.
No, they didn’t. 

I’m here to tell you that once their public facade had appeared caring, helpful and concerned, I’ve not heard a single word from them on any forum. No contact whatsoever. I’m using this blog to let you know that as far as I’m aware, they’ve done absolutely nothing about the broken brake light on Taxi 26, nor have they addressed the issue of the driver using his phone and weaving all over the road at 80kph past UCT. Because surely if they had done anything about it, they would have dropped me an email or contacted me on twitter to tell me that they had. No?

So, if you publicly comment on a company’s service on twitter and they tell you that they are going to follow up, please hold them to their word and make sure they do.

And, don’t be fooled by a company responding promptly to and promising to follow up on a negative comment or observation on twitter, because the quick public response followed by fokol aksie in private approach is all too easy to use when you want to make it look like you care, but you actually don’t give a toss.

Important Youth issues tackled

With yesterday being Youth Day here in South Africa, youths have been very much in the news. It’s only right that the Youth should have their own day when one looks at the sacrifices made in Soweto in 1976. And the Youth of today still face a huge number of challenges, so what better plan than to focus on these issues on June 16th each year? Step forward then, Simon Molefe: Gauteng Chairperson of the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), who called on Provinical Premier Nomvula Mokonyane to address the most pressing of problems facing the Youth of today: unemployment, crime, lack of education and educational opportunities and HIV/Aids. Well, no, actually, first of all he had a bit of a pop at taxi drivers who play loud music in their vehicles:

The agency’s Gauteng chairperson, Simon Molefe, called on Premier Nomvula Mokonyane to deal with the issue of taxis playing loud music before next year’s Youth Day because of the negative impact some of the music played in taxis has on the youth. Speaking at a wreath-laying ceremony at the Hector Pieterson Memorial in Soweto, Molefe said, “This thing of taxis transporting students from Soweto playing “Imoto entshontshimali” (“The car that steals money”) loudly must be history. The driver of any taxi playing music while taking pupils to school must be arrested.”

OK, but then he called on Provinical Premier Nomvula Mokonyane to address the most pressing of problems facing the Youth of today: unemployment, crime, lack of education and educational opportunities and HIV/Aids. Right? Wrong. Then he got annoyed about churches only being used 14.29% of the time:

Molefe called on communities, especially the youth, to create partnerships with faith-based organisations. “For six days a week the churches are empty. Each church space must be a youth centre focusing on technology and science skills,” he said.

Where’s the Women’s Institute supposed to meet on Thursday mornings now, then? Honestly, sports stadiums are empty most of the time too: must we set up art colleges in them? The Karoo is empty – really empty – all of the time: must we explore for shale gas deposits there? And what are we going to do with all the free space between Simon Molefe’s ears?