Social media has opened up a new way for consumers to complain about products, services and companies like nothing before it.
Some may think it’s passive agressive to simply send a tweet complaining about an issue, but I beg to differ. I think social media offers a great way for a customer to interact directly with a company when they have an issue with their product(s). It’s also a great way for customers to complain in a way that doesn’t waste their time (i.e. you’re not sitting on hold for hours waiting for someone in a call centre somewhere nowhere near the company you’re actually complaining about).
However, there are limits to this mode. Many companies don’t have too much of a social media presence. If they do it’s either: a) limitedly staffed (meaning turnaround time for your tweet could be hours or days); or b) just a broadcasting mechanism where no one actually listens to what people are saying to it. Another problem is the allusion (or perhaps the reality) that if you complain on social media, you get better treatment than someone who called or wrote a letter because they are not on social media or whatever.
However, there are times it works. In the last few weeks, I have tweeted negatively about two companies. One ended decently, the other not so. Here’s what occurred.
Bank of Montreal
I am a BMO customer. A few weeks ago when I was depositing my pay cheque, I needed to see a personal banker to make a transfer into my Tax-Free Savings Account (customer service representatives — CSRs or tellers — cannot perform this transaction). The CSR who was serving me found a personal banker who was free. He told me she would see me, and we continued to finish up depositing my cheque.
I overheard the customer next to me ask his CSR to see the same personal banker I was to see. When he was asked if he had an appointment, he admitted he was just a personal friend and wanted to say hi. The CSR brought him to the personal banker. When I arrived to her office to do my banking transactions, the CSR and I waited outside her office for five minutes before she came out and said she couldn’t see me after all — she had forgotten about the appointment she had with the gentleman sitting inside her office.
Liar! I wanted to scream, but I didn’t. She asked if I was willing to wait until someone else could see me (all the other personal bankers were with other actual customers), I said no. I had to get back to work.
As I walked out of the bank, my thumbs were already furiously typing away on my phone:
@sarah_millar Hi Sarah, I don't like the sounds of your experience and want to learn more. Please DM me the details and lets chat. ^SF— BMO (@BMO) March 23, 2012
I explained in about 12 DMs what had occurred. The person on the other end of the BMO account apologized and said someone would be in touch. Later that afternoon, I got a call from corporate apologizing and offering to do my banking transaction for me.
Not really what I was expecting, but whatever.
The following week, I got a thank you card in the mail from the CSR who served me. I got mad all over again and decided to call the branch manager — which is something I realize I should have done sooner.
I left a voicemail and the assistant branch manager actually called me back. She was very apologetic and said she, and the branch manager knew about the incident already. She wanted to know what she could do for me to make things right. Her phone call was enough.
Because of her great response, I also tweeted a follow up to my followers to let them know things had been righted:
. @bmo proved me wrong. Just got off the phone with assistant branch manager. Was very apologetic. Wanted to know what she could do for me.— Sarah Millar (@sarah_millar) March 28, 2012
I was expecting a couple of packages — containing goods worth over $500 — to be delivered to my home. As of yesterday at 2 p.m., UPS’s website said it was set to be delivered by end of day Thursday. Accordingly, I made plans to work from home in order to receive the boxes.
So colour me surprised when my boyfriend and I arrived home from work to find two large boxes right in the middle of our front lawn in plain site, with the logo from the company I had ordered from plastered all over the boxes.
Maybe, colour me angry is a better phrase. We lugged the packages in the house and wondered what would have happened if someone had walked away with them. So again, I took to Twitter.
Thanks @ups_canada for leaving my giant parcels on my lawn for the entire neighbourhood to see (and possibly snatch). Much appreciated.— Sarah Millar (@sarah_millar) April 4, 2012
This morning, UPS responded to my tweet, promising a follow up.
Sure, enough I got a phone call from the local UPS outlet shortly after and if the BMO assistant manager illustrated what good customer service was, the person from UPS did not.
Basically, she told me it was the driver’s discretion to leave the packages. When I enquired if it was OK they were on my lawn for the entire neighbourhood to see (and possibly take), she again said it was “driver discretion.” When I asked what would have happened if someone had stolen the boxes from my land, she said I would have had to file a lost package claim and they’d “investigate it.” When I asked her why the packages arrived so soon when I was expecting, and making arrangements, for a Thursday delivery, she again told me the driver was within his right to leave them since I wasn’t home and that if I was so concerned “I should have required a signature.”
Well, when I ordered my items, I was never given that option from the shipper. Nor have I ever known a courier company to simply leave a package without express written consent to do so from me. Usually after a first attempt, you get a paper on the door where you can check a box telling them to leave it. None of this occurred.
I again tweeted my frustration and the wonderful woman behind the account apologized again and said she would again follow up with the local team.
Seems like UPS in Toronto could learn a little bit about customer service from their corporate Twitter account and the assistant bank manager at the Liberty Village Bank of Montreal.
What are your customer service horror stories? How were they solved? Have you blacklisted any companies?