Cisco Blogs

Social Media Spurs Big Changes in Customer Service

August 31, 2010 - 18 Comments

My Internet connection over Comcast had been having issues for months, but I was unwilling to face the dreaded tech support phone tree. So I complained – to myself – and continued to suffer.

One day, I was frustrated enough to take my complaints to Twitter. It took just two tweets for @ComcastBonnie to respond. She tested my connection remotely and found it was weak. Not long afterwards, tech support came out, the connection was fixed and I was a very happy customer.

As a member of Cisco’s Social Media Communications team, I’m well aware of the power of social media. This week, I had the chance to explore how social media is changing customer service – and how customer service needs to evolve – with two experts: Comcast’s Martin (Marty) Marcinczyk, vice president, National Customer Operations, and Cisco’s John Hernandez, vice president and general manager of the Customer Collaboration business unit.

“Ten years ago, if a consumer had poor experience with a product or service, they’d tell the people they know,” says Hernandez. “With social media, customers can share an experience, whether good or bad, with hundreds or even thousands of people.”

Comcast, which is known as a pioneer in this area, and other businesses have responded by using social media to interact with customers. Currently, Comcast uses an aggregator to collect all feeds that mention the company, and a supervisor distributes customer queries to one of its dedicated social media agents.

“To date we have been successful handling our customers’ issues over social media means. However, as we increase these types of transactions, we are concerned that current technologies will not scale to meet our business needs,” Marcinczyk says. “We’re also concerned that our traditional contact channels like phone and chat are not fully integrated with these new contact channels. If you didn’t get your question resolved on Twitter and you then call tech support, the agent may not know you’re on Twitter.”

Hernandez agrees. “We need to think about social media as just one channel for customer care. It needs to be integrated into your contact center so you connect all methods of customer communication – phone, chat, email and social media.”

In November, Cisco will introduce technology that’s designed to help businesses do just that. The idea is that if you’ve been Tweeting about a problem and then reach the call center, the agent knows why you’re calling and some of the history behind your issue.

The goal, says Hernandez, is to make it possible for companies to better anticipate customer needs, more easily help customers and capture knowledge that’s shared as part of a customer interaction.

The technology includes video as well, so rather than having a support agent verbally describe how to reset your modem, for example, you’d be able watch a video on your mobile device that shows you how. At the same time, you could share a video that shows the agent the problem you’re having.

Marcinczyk says he ultimately hopes to have a real-time view of each customer interaction and how agents are supporting that interaction. Ideally, either Comcast or the customer would have the ability to shift from one channel to the other – from online channels to phone, for example. And it would all be connected to his customer database so agents know something about the customer.

“I want to be able to look at my overall business and know how best to serve each customer,” he says.

Want to find out more about how social media is changing customer service? You can comment or ask questions starting at 9 a.m. PT Sept. 1 when Marcinczyk joins Hernandez for a live broadcast. I’ll post a recording of that broadcast in case you miss it.

Here is recording of 9/1 broadcast.  Thanks for tuning in:

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  1. Social Media is causing a large number of markets to have to rethink their ideas to keep up, and this is just one example.The idea of some form of Twitter helpdesk is intriguing though….

  2. good… Social media are a good way to keep in touch with customers.

  3. Thanks to the program is very helpful and wonderful explanation

  4. I wrote a blog post recently on the subject of how small startups (at least in my local area) are frequently getting social media wrong, it’s good to see that at least some industry giants are getting it right because the possibility for error is correspondingly much greater.Using Twitter for customer service as well as marketing is pure genius, it often seems that every time someone discovers a problem with a product or service a hashtag is born, often before they’ve given a customer service department the opportunity to sort it out.Of course, there’s also the problem of companies that respond to a problem with “”You’re holding it wrong””…”

  5. my lnksys phone adapter broblem is he that is not working i instaling ****123# but cod is not sport so wat we do pleas halp me

  6. Customer Services are much more important now than in the past. A company with a bad customer services can receive bad reviews online viewed by millions of people.Social media are a good way to keep in touch with customers.

  7. Social Sites are changing everything. It is becoming possible to search for bad reviews online before you do business with a company.Here in Tampa, many people will check the online review sites before they choose a company.

  8. Although it is ultimately the customers responsibility to notify a service provider when their is a problem with the service how they do it should be up to them. By using methods such as twitter it forces the service provider to do something about it instead of just appease the customer over the phone. Any negative comment refelects poorly on the company so its only in their best interest to do something about it.

  9. Hi Jamie,Social Media is Perfect symbol of freedom to Speech.You can Post Your thought without hesitation So it ‘s really nice things.If take it Positively then We can get amazing results.Thanks for sharing Information.

  10. pretty comprehensive program!I have been reading lots of blogs on the importance of social media but how can it be used for the good of company?

  11. Social Media is definatly changing customer service for the better. its alot easier for a business to just treat their customers well because its so easy now to spread bad reputation. the other side to that is if a customer has a great experience it can lead to a positive spin and increase sales 10 fold. so its in any companys best interest to keep everyone happy

  12. This is fantastic news that companies are realising the power of negative word of mouth and responding to it in such a proactive way. As a customer service consultant, I have been aware for some time of the enormous affect social media can have on a business’s reputation. it’s really refreshing to see these businesses using this technology to wow their customers.

  13. Comcast Bonnie – thanks for the added information – pretty comprehensive program!

  14. Instead of making the ‘dreaded’ tech support phone call, you wait MONTHS during which you put up with poor performance. Then you decide to take 2 seconds out of your life and rant on twitter about a problem you’ve accepted for MONTHS, and are ecstatic that someone from Comcast contacted YOU regarding your rant which they should have been contacted about MONTHS ago, by YOU! Yup, twitter is fantastic! It only took you MONTHS to have your problem, which was not communicated by you to Comcast when it SHOULD have been, taken care of by bitching about it on twitter. When you should have been bitching about how lazy you were in not contacting Comcast in the first place!If you had dealt with Comcast support initially, and experienced poor service, THEN jumping on twitter would have been somewhat of a smart move. So in short, you had a service that was in need of repair, refused to contact the party responsible for repairing your problem, then jump on the internet and bitch about the problem no one other than yourself had any clue about. Outstanding! Thank God, Engineers, and increasingly elusive common sense someone invented the Almighty Twitter, or else you’d still be sitting in front of your PC wondering why in the hell Comcast doesn’t spend the funds to call you up and ask if everything is ok! C’mon they don’t expect YOU to pick up the phone and call THEM!Cisco note: thank you for your thoughts…now, take a deep breath. breath in. breath out. now. feel better? : )

  15. Currently, Comcast uses an aggregator to collect all feeds that mention the company, and a supervisor distributes customer queries to one of its dedicated social media agents.””This quite a bit different from how we actually handle things down here on the ranch! Our team currently utilizes twitter search, google blog search, several customer help websites, broadband reports, our own customer forums, and our email box. Each team member has their task. On a typical day you can find myself or Bill on Twitter all day. Other team members sit in forums, reply to blogs, or handle emails. We have never had a supervisor distribute work to us, as we’re self-propelled/managed. If someone needs assistance with a specific task, another team member will help out. Hope this gives you a better idea about how we do things 🙂 As always, you’re welcome to contact me with any questions! I’m just a tweet away!”

  16. I would like to know how to integrate the advent of social media for travel websites. As the trend now is towards online booking, then it is essential to use social media to spur better customer services for travelers.I have been reading lots of blogs on the importance of social media but how can it be used? Each industry is opting for explanantion of how it could be integrated to fit its needs.Can you elaborate on this matter

  17. Social Media truly is making the world of customer service even more flat. While it is true that SoMe can be used to spread complaints and negative feedback, we utilize it to encourage our satisfied customers to share their experience with the world. It’s true that 99% of the happy customers don’t say a word while 99% of dissatisfied customers share their feelings. Even out those odds a little! At my practice we use various outlets to connect with customers.Great write up!

  18. Well, that’s why most big companies are getting scared with the power of social media nowadays. Since technology is coping up with the needs of the consumers, it’s much harder for big companies to isolate issues regarding their deficiencies and in protecting their product or services’ reputation, especially if a single tweet or status is capable of making more negative buzz about it.