Paolo Fabrizio
August 7, 2016

When Social Customer Service becomes a nightmare

Due to my activity in the ‘customer service arena’, friends and peers often tell me about their experiences with brands (especially if disappointing). For example, last week my colleague Maria was badly treated by a rude bookshop owner while my friend Marco asked for assistance via Twitter for car insurance cover. Unfortunately he got wrong information, so he wasted half a day before being able to collect his new vehicle.

The common denominator of these stories is that brands have underestimated the consequences of poor service.

However, customer service missteps certainly can be considerably worse…

Don’t dump your responsibilities on your customers

Let me tell you a social customer service story that, unfortunately, turned itself into a nightmare. Lea, an Italian girl, recently had such a disappointing customer experience that she decided to vent her frustration on Twitter. Now you may wonder ‘what the heck happened?’ In a nutshell: 

  1. She made an online flight reservation. Unfortunately email confirmation details sent back by the airline were wrong. 
  2. Then she reported the issue to the contact centre asking for a quick resolution
  3. The call-centre assistant did not offer any help. Instead she charged Lea extra money to get her flight reservation details corrected in time for her flight the following day

Afterwards, Lea complained directly with the brand on Twitter and Facebook with no success. Therefore, after receiving a standard automatic response, she decided to post a very ironic tweet (see below).

Translation: “Congrats @wizzair! YOU have problems with your systems, YOU made a mistake with my flight reservation, I called you and you asked me to pay an extra €63,00 to fix it!”

bravi @wizzair!VOI avete problemi sul sistema, VOI sbagliate la conferma, chiamo”dp 6h”, IO pago il VS #errore 63€!

How to create a nightmare customer experience 

unhappycustomerThis case is very interesting because it shows how many mistakes were made in very few interactions with the customer.

  • Late reaction: they should have been able to detect the problem with their system and preemptively fix it, instead of  waiting for customers to call their contact centre for help. Further consequence: they superficially handle this case 
  • Lack of transparency: in the age of customer power, this the worst sin for any brand. In this case, instead of admitting the problem and helping out, the brand let their customer down 
  • Extra customer effort (+ extra charge): one of the customer service mantras is ‘always strive to reduce any customer effort’. Conversely, in this case the customer had to spend €15 to call the contact centre (no free toll number) then she was even charged for an extra €63 to get her problem fixed in time for her flight departure (!)
  • No empathy: after making a complaint on their Facebook ‘s customer service page the brand replied with an automatic response, thus showing no empathy to the affected customers 

A good recipe for Social Customer Service success

Now it’s time to move on from this customer experience nightmare and offer you positive vibes and tips. If you want to learn more on how some big brands have successfully integrated social networks in their customer service, I’ve got juicy content for you here.

A few days ago the ‘two Dans’ (Dan Gingiss and Dan Moriartry) released a great episode of their ‘Focus on customer service‘ podcast show. They hosted Delfin Vassallo, a social care veteran and expert.

Click here to listen how Delfin helped many European brands use Social Customer Service to improve customer satisfaction and reduce costs.   

Over to you

Customers get angry and disappointed when they suffer bad customer experiences. And they tend to amplify them via social networks, because they expect faster resolutions – especially over social.  Brands failing to meet these expectations need to improve efficiency their current customer service channels, before embracing Social Customer Service.

So, how about you? Did you ever experience such a customer service nightmare? I’d love to read it in the comments below. 

Have great social conversations.


Image attribution: Copyright: ‘‘ / 123RF Stock Photo

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Paolo Fabrizio

Digital Customer Service Consultant, Trainer, Author, Speaker. Paolo has been helping companies to harness digital customer service as a business driver. Founder of CustomerServiceCulture, author of books and speaker at conferences in Italy and abroad. Lecturer at the Bicocca University of Milan
Filed Under: Tagged With: Customer Service