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How to Recover from Social Media Uproars

As Social CRM practitioners know, media sites can get out of hand very quickly. Some companies bring the negative feedback upon themselves, and some are victims of circumstance. The following are examples of companies who recovered from disasters and went on to improve their customer service.

  • Comcast: The 2006 YouTube video of the service rep falling asleep on his customer’s couch while on hold with the service department is classic. You can watch it here http://bit.ly/VlqSYM.

    Needless to say, Comcast was humiliated. The press had a field day. Comcast was at a crossroads. They either had to improve their customer service or watch their company take a slide in revenue. The stakes were high. Comcast publicly committed itself to improving. So to paraphrase the constant refrain of former Mayor of New York, Ed Koch, “How are they doing?”

    The American Customer Satisfaction Index in 2011 shows that Comcast continues to rise and is beating several of the competitors. Customers have actually praised their service. They had to put in several years of hard work to turn it around.

    They invested a reported two billion dollars in the last few years to overcome their abysmal record. They did such things as

    • Outfit their field staff with handheld devices for better communication.

    • Set up a portal for internal troubleshooting.

    • Establish listening posts on social media, like this one on Twitter https://twitter.com/comcastcares.

  • Dell Computers: Another case in point is Dell Computers. Dell’s reputation was on a downslide. Proof came in the form of a University of Michigan study that showed Dell’s service was a cause for great concern. Popular blogger Jeff Jarvis chimed in with a harrowing tale detailing his efforts to get his PC fixed. Social media started picking up on it, and media like Newsweek got interested as well.

    Just like Comcast, Dell had a decision to make. They could either ignore the reports or confront them head-on. They decided to take action. One of the things they did was create a place on their website to receive customer suggestions. This wasn’t an easy choice. It’s a very public way to handle criticism.

    But Dick Hunter, Dell’s head of customer service, wanted to show they were serious. When Michael Dell returned to lead the company in 2007, efforts were accelerated.

    So how are they doing today? Customer surveys have shown that Dell really has improved. They are committed to social customer service, and in 2010, they opened their Social Media Listening Command Center. This effort continues to help them improve their service through social channels.

Remember these examples in case your company has a PR fiasco. You can rise from the ashes. In fact, if you ask these companies what they think about these incidents now, each might say the problem was an important turning point for the company.

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