T-Mobile's Take on Social Support

Ann All
Slide Show

Social Media: Measure, Monitor and Mean It

Highlights and suggestions from Burson-Marsteller's Global Social Media Checkup.

BizIntelligenceTV host Bruno Aziza's video interview with Dan Anderson, T-Mobile's emerging media manager, features a discussion that reinforced some of my views about providing customer support via social channels while making me rethink some others.


Anderson says interacting with customers via social channels like Facebook and Twitter can be an "early warning system" indicating problems that may need to be addressed in product development or other areas of the company. I've heard other folks mention this, and it makes perfect sense to me. You might get similar feedback in the call center or other channels, but it probably won't happen as quickly. Social channels offer feelings of immediacy and community that prompt people to more readily share their thoughts.


T-Mobile is especially quick to respond to customers it identifies as influencers, those with large numbers of followers or whose messages seem to resonate in the broader community, Anderson says. He shares an anecdote about a T-Mobile user who dropped her phone in the toilet. When she tweeted about it, it generated lots of Twitter activity. T-Mobile quickly resolved her problem, offering to mail her a new phone. Aziza calls it a "great example" of using social channels to support a customer.


I'm not so sure. I wonder if this makes T-Mobile what Customer Experience Matters blogger Bruce Temkin calls a "social schizophrenic," a company that provides levels of service on social channels that differ significantly from service provided via other channels. That may not be as big of a concern for T-Mobile as for some other companies. Based on the products they buy, T-Mobile customers are likely to be heavy users of social channels and may turn to them first for resolution of issues. While you don't want to offer poor service in any channel, it makes sense to focus your greatest efforts on the ones used most by your customers.


In a few of my posts I've speculated that social support could get expensive and likely won't be as efficient as other channels, as it doesn't seem like it will scale well. However, Anderson says T-Mobile has seen cost savings because it's less expensive to have service representatives handle customer issues via Twitter than over the phone.


One of the most interesting parts of the interview comes near the 5 minute mark when Aziza and Anderson discuss connecting social channels to internal systems. Anderson notes that T-Mobile monitors social channels to identify folks who are considering switching from one telecommunications provider to another. Anderson mentions how powerful it would be to quickly suggest a local sales location - even possibly a specific sales person - the person could visit. I think this ties in with my recent contention that business process management may be what is needed to improve the customer experience.


At the tail end of the video, the two mention an Excel tool that can be used to create dashboards for Twitter statistics. I believe it's the analytics app discussed in this betanews post.

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