BSS (inc. billing, revenue assurance)

Socializing CRM

8:00 AM -- I've had two different customer service experiences -- one good and one bad -- with companies in the wireless space recently. The companies were Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), and, believe it or not, the good one was not everyone's favorite iPhone maker.

I called Apple about a router issue and spent 25 minutes yelling at an automated phone system that supposedly understands full sentences only to be told that I'd have to pay a monthly fee in order to get help over the phone. With AT&T, I vented my frustrations with how fast my iPad data plan was depleted on Twitter Inc. and within less time than it took to drain my data, a customer service rep had Tweeted me back offering her help.

I'm telling you about my customer service woes (or ineptitude with technology) because I think it illustrates how powerful social media has become as a customer service tool.

Our recent reader survey validated that as well. All of the almost 900 telecom professionals who responded use at least one site for personal, professional or both purposes. In the case of Twitter, almost 40 percent are using it at least on a weekly basis. (See Light Reading's 2012 Social Media Report.)

At a minimum, service providers should be keeping an eye on social media to see where they can join a conversation, offer a solution or fix a problem. A solid customer relationship management (CRM) strategy has to at least start with going where the customers are, and social networks are a major place they gather.

Becoming more socially adept will require a transformation within service providers, likely including a change of mindset for most. Of our respondents who work at a service provider, 26 percent said their company did not use social-media-monitoring software to track what's being said online, and another 61 percent said they didn't know if their company did. More than 40 percent don't have a dedicated social media strategist on staff either.

Check out the full survey results here, and feel free to weigh in the findings in the comments section.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:28:14 PM
re: Socializing CRM

I should add that follow through is especially important too. One thing that came up in the survey a lot was that social networks are a good place to start a conversation, but they're not necessarily where the deal gets done or final goal gets accomplished. You might find out about a job on LinkedIn, but likely won't get offered one on it.

Along those lines, AT&T hasn't yet resolved my billing issue yet...just when I was starting to appreciate them too!

Blackdog_n3 12/5/2012 | 5:28:12 PM
re: Socializing CRM

Very similar experience with Virgin Media in UK - tried to resolve via the 'self-help' web links; drove me mad and got me nowhere - vented my frustration/problem on their twitter page [copied in Richard B...] and hey-ho instant response followed by speedy resolution!

shygye75 12/5/2012 | 5:28:11 PM
re: Socializing CRM

Maybe if enough people vent their anger about poor customer care on SM platforms, companies will figure out that it's better to start by providing good customer service rather than take public lashings from dissatisfied clients. OK -- that's probably too much of a stretch.

digits 12/5/2012 | 5:28:07 PM
re: Socializing CRM

So here is a classic example. O2 UK has had a major service outage affecting millions of customers.

Here is its Twitter feed


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