What to do when people are talking about you, not to you …

This week I had two very different customer experiences, one very good and one very bad. What was really interesting was how I talked about them (you know that a good story spreads, but a bad story spreads faster…), and how they then unfolded – all thanks to my new best friend, twitter.

On Monday I was working from home, in part because things just fell that way, and in part because I was expecting a delivery. One that had been due to arrive the previous Friday, but had failed to show. As a fairly recent convert to twitter (c 3months and loving it) I tweeted my annoyance, mentioned the company, and got a tweet reply saying ‘We will be in touch, thanks’. Wow, I thought, that’s fast, and was happy it was being sorted. But I heard nothing after that, and so went ahead and re-arranged delivery online. Slightly annoying, but all good so far, or so I thought.

Monday arrived, and although I had parcels to take to the Post Office for relatives in Australia (it was last posting day for Christmas) I duly sat and waited. And waited. Whilst I waited my mobile rang, and it was a very bouncy chap calling from Christian Aid, following up my text donation to their mosquito net appeal. He launched into his script, and was furiously thanking me for my support, so much so that I had a hard time trying to butt in. Thank you, I said, but I was called a couple of months back after the original text, and I said then I didn’t want any more calls. He apologised, said it would be noted, and rang off. I was a bit annoyed about being disturbed this way, as I think if I’ve told you how I want to be contacted you should record it and stick to it. And I used to work for Christian Aid, so I know the CRM system can and does record ‘Do not phone’ flags. Indeed I used to import them onto the system. So, guess what I did? Yep, I tweeted. It was a polite tweet, but it did name check Christian Aid, whilst pointing out how important it is to record donor preferences. And then I got back to waiting for my delivery (Post Office now closed, sorry Aus rels, your parcels will be late)… Monday evening came and went. No delivery in sight, so another tweet, and a big complaint email, sent to the company.

Tuesday arrived and all was quiet from the delivery company. But I got a lovely reply from Christian Aid, asking for my details so they could investigate the problem with the lack of call suppression. I was very impressed. Not only is that good customer service, it’s good customer service via a channel that they have to pro-actively listen too. After all, I was talking about them, not to them. But they still heard, knew it was important to resolve, and got in touch. A few direct messages later and the mystery was revealed – a duplicate record for me on the system. As a database person I can understand that – it happens. One record was my full supporter details with name and address, and the other just my name and mobile number. I wouldn’t let the system merge me on that basis  – it could be two different people. The nice folks at Christian Aid explained that, apologised, and set to sorting it. Fantastic. I of course duly name checked them and their great supporter care in a tweet, am likewise thanking them now, and may even use this as a case study for a future seminar. Good stories can go far.

New Picture (2)

The moral of this story I think is that, whatever your business, delivering parcels to customer, or selling your cause to supporters, these days you have to be where the conversations about you are happening. And that’s facebook and twitter as the headline social media arenas. And you can’t just broadcast, you have to listen. And if you hear your name you should reply, in the right circumstances, but ideally you should also record those interactions. If I’m talking about you on twitter then I’m telling people about you – that’s an important piece of information to know. Ideally you should record that on your CRM – but I don’t know many organisations who are. Are you? I wonder if Christian Aid is. I think they just might, they seem to be savvy folks.

As for my delivery, as I arrived home late Tuesday evening I passed a very annoyed delivery man coming out of my block, wheeling away my parcel. I managed to intercept it and all is now sorted. not sure I’ll be taking my business back there again in a hurry though. Sometimes the corporate world can learn from the not for profit one, and this is a case in point.