One of the best ways to get what you want out of a service provider has always been to get on the phone, escalate to the “customer retention” department and make your case. We all know that the front line at the call centre is merely trying to triage your complaint, bandage up the wound and get you on your merry way.
Recently, though, I’ve seen and heard examples of people being able to circumvent the front line and move up the ladder after threatening to take the “story” online. What happens then? Have we reached the point where just threatening to put something on the Internet is enough to gain traction with the folks at the call centre?
From what I’ve been seeing and hearing, the tactic is becoming a powerful one-two punch.
With the internet firmly entrenched as the go-to destination for those looking to out brands for shoddy products and service, people are turning to blogs, Twitter, rating sites, forums, and so on, with a new found power, to air their grievances and make them stick. Now, with more and more companies engaged in social media monitoring programs, companies are beginning to understand the urgency and lasting effect these negative bread crumbs can have.
Not happy with your newspaper price or service? See what happens when you threaten to cancel your subscription and read the paper online.
Not happy when a part goes on a appliance that’s past its warranty? See what happens on the phone when you casually mention that you’ll tweet, blog or rate the product online.
The tone changes. The call center folk become a little more accommodating. And you get moved to the next tier faster. Consumer-friendly solutions follow.
Now, I’m not advocating being difficult or making things harder for Judy the operator every time you need to solve a problem, but this does represent a huge shift in corporate’s understanding of the online environment.
Some thoughts on this:
• Are companies now starting to fully understand the far reaching efforts that a negative review posted online can have?
• Are they also starting to understand the benefit of solving the problem amicably, hoping that it will lead to a positive online mention?
For consumers, perhaps this is a more effective means to an end as well. Sure you can tweet your experience, but then you’re not only saying something about the brand you’re targeting, but you’re also saying something about yourself as well. (Just a little, right?)
So dial the number. Make the threat. See what happens.
Then take it online if you have to. And see if they’re listening.