If you know Twitter, you know it’s where people go to complain. There’s something about the freedom of 140 characters that makes some people get out their soap box and start shouting to their network. And to be fair most companies have adapted their strategies to accommodate this. In the past I’ve had some great experiences on Twitter with @sluglettuce and more recently with @YodelOnline. If you deal with a complaint well, companies have the power to transform discontented individuals into brand advocates… Everyone’s happy. So it drives me spare when big companies get it so utterly wrong.
My husband and I were both due mobile upgrades. He decides to stay with EE, and agrees to a mobile upgrade on Wednesday due for next-day-delivery. Hubby is sulking a bit by Monday morning when there still hasn’t been a delivery attempt… But then goes into a rage on Monday evening when EE deactivate the SIM in his trusty BlackBerry. So not only did Hubby not have his upgrade, but EE had made it so his old phone was no more than a fancy alarm clock. So much for “Everything Everywhere” – he had nothing.
I naturally hit Twitter to voice displeasure on Hubby’s behalf, and hope that EE would be able to do something, like possibly reactivate the SIM.
What followed then was utter farce.
Understandably the EE team did not want to talk to me as I wasn’t the account holder. However rather than directing me to a more appropriate platform to raise our issue the impersonal, robot-like interactions from EE kept doggedly on. My husband very briefly accessed Twitter (while at work) to give permission for EE to speak to me on his behalf, I then was passing a lot of information back and forth (including name, number, password, address, Twitter handle etc), to only then be told by the EE team that they could only discuss the problem with me if my husband gave me third-party access to his Twitter account. After nearly 24 hours of going back and forth, after jumping through all these hoops and explaining the issue three or four times, I logged into my husband’s account as requested, and sent a DM. The response :
I actually screamed. At this point I gave up on trying to resolve the matter.
By coincidence that same week Paul Sutton posted a blog about EE’s new advocacy group, and I ended up in a discussion about how EE are poor at active engagement… Now if I’d been EE, at this point I would have got involved with this online conversation. It was intelligent, proactive discussion after all, showing interest would have been really beneficial for the company. But nothing. EE did diddly-squat.
Certainly nothing public.
What happened however is that I received an email from the Senior PR Manager at EE. One of the members of EE’s advocacy group had passed my details on. To his credit he listened to my comments about the poor experiences on Twitter, and apologised for them (and the SIM deactivation) most strongly and promised that these would be discussed in detail with the customer support management team.
My interactions with @EE had seriously damaged my perception of the company. I had been left feeling that EE had little interest in what I was saying. On Twitter there was no way for me to understand who I was talking to, and clearly there was little handover between staff to ensure that ongoing customer interaction had any continuity. EE simply seemed inept at dealing with customers. So the email from EE’s PR department was welcome. Great, I thought, proof EE were willing to engage and answer their critics. At least on some level.
However I have to wonder whether the significance of having a wholly awful Twitter strategy has really computed to EE though… Nearly 70% of customers that leave companies for competitors do so because of a perceived indifference, and whilst I received a nice personalised email from the PR team, I can’t imagine that the majority of the customers that complain on Twitter do. The central strategy needs to change otherwise EE will be left fighting a swelling fire of discontent.
Even after all of this, I’m not sure that my perception has hugely changed… Whether EE are scared to, or simply aren’t ready, clearly they are still not prepared to engage in public discussions – I told the PR team at EE that I was writing this blog and offered them the opportunity to phrase a response for publication. And I’m still waiting for a reply…