Technology Should Make Your Customer Service Better, Not Worse…

In business by wakemanconsulting1 Comment

I was minding my own business on the Internet this morning when I saw a tweet from my friend, Simon Mabb, going on about the poor service he was receiving from Virgin Media.

If you follow the whole line of back and forth, you can see that from the customer’s point of view, it could get quite maddening. But when you factor in the idea that Simon is the CEO of a company that has created a really innovative digital customer service tool, it moves from maddening to laughable. 


A couple of reasons actually.

First, the person that was the face of Virgin Media was really lacking in empathy in the exchange. 

If your customer has mentioned they have jumped through hoops and they are frustrated enough to take it out on social media, pointing them towards another form to fill out on your website isn’t likely to lessen the frustration, only add to it. 

Second, was because despite the lack of empathy…it was the idea that Virgin hadn’t or doesn’t give its customer service team on social media the power to take ownership of a situation. 

Combine this with the idea that the person on the receiving end of this back and forth has been earning awards all over the globe for customer service, specifically built on the fact that he empowers his team to take ownership of the customer experience, it leaves the door wide open to see a better path. 

The reality is that technology is supposed to make our customer service better. 

But in this case, it didn’t happen. 

And, while nothing I can say will change this exchange, here are a few ideas for how you can use technology to avoid what happened with Virgin. 

First, make sure you use technology to accelerate your reaction to a challenge. 

By this, I mean that one of the biggest issues reasons people feel let down by customer service is due to the fact that it can take so long to get any kind of reaction from customer service, to begin with. 

In the case of Simon and Virgin Media, that was clearly the case. Simon had been complaining for a while about services he wasn’t receiving. And, I am sure at every turn, each time he didn’t get a response, he became more frustrated. 

By trying to push Simon off of Twitter back to the Virgin website, Virgin was lengthening the time of response to Simon’s concern. 

Even if customer service isn’t empowered to resolve the issue immediately, they could take the empathetic road of saying, “I’m sorry that you’ve had a bad experience, can we take this to DM or offline so I can see how we can help you?”

Second, use technology as a way to bring your customer closer to you. 

Not to beat up on Virgin Media, but Virgin Media did everything in their power in this exchange to shove Simon out of the way and to basically tell him, “Move along, this isn’t my problem.” 

I’ll use Simon’s company as an example of what a better way would look like because it is informative in the right way to deal with customers and the wrong way. 

When someone works with Booking Protect, they receive a 48-hour resolution guarantee. 

Which does the first thing, accelerates the issue.

But the second aspect of this is that each customer is assigned a personal agent for their claim. 

This does two things: it takes the anonymity out of the process and it gives the customer someone on their side. 

Both things, bring your customer closer to you. 

Finally, and this is a shouldn’t more than a should, but if you are only using technology as a way to pretend like you are being customer focused, don’t do it at all. You will be seen through. 

This is something I talk about all the time, but you can’t be too customer focused. 

But despite this fact, too many companies spend too much energy going through the motions of customer service and doing damage to their brand and their business when they don’t have to. 

I like to point out pretty regularly that you don’t have to do everything, you only need to do what is right for you and your business. 

Here’s the big lesson in that example and this Virgin Media example, if you aren’t going to use social media to really serve your customers, don’t do it. 

No one cares about your brand initiatives. 

No one really cares about how community oriented your events are. 

Most of the time, if it isn’t something valuable or amusing to your customers, no one wants to see you on social media at all. Because most companies use social media as a form of navel-gazing that they pawn off as “having” to be on social media because everyone is on. 

This may be the ultimate lesson, if you aren’t there to serve, as a brand, stay off. You’ll only hurt yourself if you are using social and not serving. 

Am I wrong? Let me know in the comments below. 

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