Never Underestimate the Power of Social Media for Customer Service

Adam Smartschan

Partner & Chief Strategy Officer

It’s a message that you’ve heard a million times: don’t underestimate the power of social media.

Article after article is written about companies’ social media faux pas and the power of turning off customers in the time it takes to bang out a 140-character tweet.

But social media can be used for good, too.

Late last summer, I went hiking with my big, scary German shepherd dog, Eng-Bing at Bear Creek. It was a hot August day so she hopped in the creek for a quick drink of water. As I bent over to fix her leash that had gotten tangled, my iPhone, which I kept stowed in my sports bra, fell into the creek, rendering it useless immediately.

 I wouldn’t recommend reckless angry-tweeting … but I would recommend a system like AT&T Customer Care’s – use your social media platforms as a customer service tool to ensure happy, engaged, repeat clients.

The hike ended there as I needed to get to the closest bag of white rice as soon as possible at a feeble attempt to save my phone.

I plunged the phone into a Ziploc bag full of white rice and waited … but not that patiently. Because my job at the time required me to be on-call 24/7, because I didn’t have insurance and because I wasn’t due for an upgrade, I had to scrape up the cash for a replacement phone. I drove to Wal-Mart – my only option because the AT&T stores were closed.

(And for the record, I’m glad I did; there happened to be an emergency the next night for which I had to be available.)

Anywho … flash-forward a week. I can’t stop complaining about dropping $400 on a new phone. My brilliant boyfriend asks if I’ve tried the old phone since my 12-hour post splash party. I hadn’t. So he did.

And. It. Worked.

The next day, I went to Wal-Mart to return the phone, got my cash back and was super happy.

Until I realized they didn’t reverse my new phone upgrade date.

You see, because I had to start a new two-year contract for the new phone, it pushed my eligibility for an upgrade to 2014. At the time, that was two years away. I was happy my old phone had been resurrected, but knew it would never last another two full years.

Wal-Mart told me AT&T had to reverse the upgrade date. So I called.

AT&T told me Wal-Mart had to reverse the upgrade date. I went back.

And so the story goes for nine months. I tried a half-a-dozen times to figure the thing out. To no avail.

Then the phone started to whack out.

I tried again; I took the phone and the return receipt to Wal-Mart and called AT&T from the store, relaying messages back and forth between the Wal-Mart service guy and the AT&T service rep.

Their hands were tied.

Finally, Angry Kelly had had enough. I took to Twitter (@KellyMStratton) complaining about the customer service at both Wal-Mart and AT&T and warned followers to never buy a phone from Wal-Mart.

An hour later, AT&T Customer Care (@ATTCustomerCare) replied to my tweet promising that if I direct messaged them they’d be able to help me. I messaged them my phone number, told them the story I’d told repeatedly for the nine months leading up to that conversation and, in the matter of 15 minutes they reversed my upgrade. They even called me back to let me know the upgrade fee that had been charged last August would be reimbursed, as well.

I, of course, went back to Twitter, singing my praises to AT&T for their help.

Three weeks later, because of AT&T’s support, I renewed my commitment by upgrading my phone and signing on for another two years of service.

So there you have it.

If you use social media effectively, you can get real results. Of course, I wouldn’t recommend reckless angry-tweeting like I did, but I would recommend a system like AT&T Customer Care’s – use your social media platforms as a customer service tool to ensure happy, engaged, repeat clients.

Adam Smartschan

Adam Smartschan heads Altitude's strategic marketing and branding efforts. An award-winning writer and editor by trade in a former life, he now specializes in data analytics, search engine optimization, digital advertising strategy, conversion rate optimization and technical integrations. He holds numerous industry certifications and is a frequent speaker on topics around B2B marketing strategy and SEO.