The Long and Winding Road : ‘Social faux-pas’

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Liverpool

 

‘Social faux-pas’

In the ‘goode olde’ days messages might take months to arrive at their destination, later they might take weeks, still later they might take days. We still got ourselves into wars and strife nonetheless. Today our messages take seconds to deliver.

Therein lies the problem. What do we do when we cannot attend to our communications? I know many of you work with people who go to great lengths to tell you they don’t read their e-mails regularly. The translation of which is something like, ‘ don’t bother me unless it is urgent!’

We are all blessed with free choice, no really we are… we can decide how we communicate and adjust our pace of life and work to suit. When once there were only two ways to convey messages, namely written on paper and a message personally delivered by voice.

As we stand today we have written messages being sent in multiple ways, e-mail, instant message, text, e-fax, letter,etc. Spoken words are delivered by telephone, both landline and mobile, video chat, text to talk, etc. There is really nowhere on earth that we cannot send a message, at least technically.

The social world has introduced another layer of complexity to our thoughts and words. We are constantly hearing and seeing the problems caused by ill-thought out commentary on events being played out on the social network platforms.

I had two interesting social media experiences recently which highlight the danger of assuming that merely being present on social media networks is enough. If only it were that easy! Unless you are going to attend to those portals you are wasting your time.

First head-scratcher was a few weeks ago when I was preparing to move house and needed to access my water company account online to change my details. Easy enough one would assume. When I found that my password was not being recognised I had to go through the painful process of trying to reset it. After several failed attempts , I decided to contact the company on their Twitter account. My communication took place on a Saturday morning.

I was deafened by the silence.

Then on Monday I received a direct message from the water company telling me they do not staff their Twitter feed over the weekends…..but was there anything they could help with?

Deep breath….. there are a few issues here. Firstly, websites should be easily navigable. Resetting a password should not be a test of manhood and a competition in academic muscle-flexing. All digital activities nowadays should be blindingly simple to use, if they are not they are useless.

Secondly, if you are going to set up a ‘worldwide presence’ on Twitter for your company, for heaven’s sake staff it! What’s the point? Not only does this company not have a smartphone app for customers but they are not investing the time and money in servicing the customers. What they are doing is pretending to offer a wide spectrum of service and failing miserably. These are the self same people who will have a high level meeting and scrap digital investment because it does not show the level of revenue generation they thought it would achieve.

Let me tell you guys, if you don’t fuel the car it won’t go….simple.

The second example happened only two days ago and shows another facet of digital incompetence and customer indifference.

I normally purchase Christmas gifts online because I detest shopping at this time of year. Like most people I researched the products I wanted and made my purchases based on the deal I got more than the price of the item. Sometimes the free shipping, the speed of delivery, the ease of collection or the sheer plethora of choice will steer one away from shopping solely by the bottom line.

On this occasion I decided to pay a little more for four items because I could pick them up easily and I would receive an e-mail when ALL my order was ready to go.

I duly received the e-mail telling me my order was ready, I made a trip to the store to pick up. For the purposes of full disclosure, this store is not the store I expected to visit because their prices are so eye-wateringly high but they had reasonable prices on the items I wanted.

So, in I strode, expectant and calm because I had this arranged. What happened was this…

I stood alone waiting for some sign of acknowledgement. I broke a golden rule of mine by interrupting a staff member with another customer and asking them where I needed to go. You see there were no signs telling where I should be in the store.

I dutifully went to the collection area and waited……and waited. Eventually a young man came over and started to assist me. He retrieved my details and started to look for my order. He was obviously a new hire for the holiday season and clearly not confident of procedures. Had he even been told them I wonder?

When it became evident that there was one item missing he looked a little blank. As you do!

I suggested he look on the shelves of the show-floor to see if there was a replacement . He glanced over and told me he would get someone who could help me.

This much lauded staff member came over and started to help…. he too looked and could not find. He left the area without word never to return. The confused man returned and looked pitifully at another staff member for help. Suffice to say that it was another charmless process of looking in an empty container for a missing item.

At this point I said they should cancel the whole order and refund me my money. I suggested that they should make sure they were ready before they invite people in to the store to pick up.

More blank stares

I received the refund and left the store with absolutely no apology for screwing up in any way…brilliant!

The point in this rant? This is an example of another cardinal sin in digital marketing. Never dazzle the customer with technology if you cannot provide a warm and competent human experience at the other end. Now, as I said these guys are not shy with their pricing, you would have thought the staff at the front line would be polished and expert in sales skills. But rather they have staffed their glitzy high end store with muppets.

They most talented people in any organisation should not be ‘in the back’ pushing paper but out front and center demonstrating the company ethos.

These guys failed so miserably it was risible (Editors Note: ‘risible’ = ‘laughable’ to the American speaking audience). Wait there is more….

So miffed was I that during my sushi lunch a few doors away from the scene of this debacle, I ‘tweeted’ my experience to their corporate account. Guess what?  Absolutely nothing!

Again, like the first example, these people are playing lip service to the social networks they pretend to inhabit and are damaging their business beyond belief.

 

It is a big world out there and I can just as easily buy from Australia as I can from my local community. We would all do well to remember that when we splash the cash to set these things up, it’s not the set up costs that you need to agonise over it’s the maintenance costs that need to be thought about. At 3rd Planet, our most successful client companies using digital methods to enhance their human efforts all, to a man, invest heavily in the effort needed to make these technologies worthwhile.

We should all do the same.

 

see you on the long and winding road…… Patrick

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