Social media customer service lessons from the #AskBG Twitter disaster

Published on 23 October 2013 by in Latest News

British Gas social media customer service Social media customer service lessons from the #AskBG Twitter disasterThe public nature of social media platforms creates both advantages and disadvantages for brands in terms of customer service, as the recent British Gas Twitter Q&A disaster outlines. How can brands cope with crisis situations on social media to preserve positive consumer sentiment?

In an effort to embrace pro-active social media CIM, British Gas held a Twitter question and answer session with company Customer Services Director Bert Pijls to coincide with a price hike on Monday.

“We know people are worried about rising energy prices and they want to talk about this – including on Twitter – and it’s important we’re there for them to talk to,” the company explained in an official statement.

Unfortunately, this well-intentioned strategy resulted in a huge volume of abusive comments against the brand, spreading negative sentiment towards British Gas across Twitter. As this example identifies, while customers have come to expect personal customer service via social media and brands can no longer ignore these channels, social CIM must be handled correctly to avoid a possible reputation crisis.

In the case of British Gas, Econsultancy’s Head of Social Matt Owen reflects;

“While it’s hard to argue with the sentiment, it would have been far more constructive to publish an official statement via a dedicated landing page on the day, and answer questions as they came in.”

Crucially, on occasions where a significant backlash is likely, companies would benefit from taking the discussion offline to elude the viral effect of social media. By promptly responding to complaints on social media with an offer to contact the customer via phone or email, companies can tackle difficult issues that cannot be handled within Twitter’s 140 character limit.

“Sometimes a tweet won’t cut it and you’ll need a more personal touch to avoid crisis escalation,” summarises Olly Honess from social media agency Cubaka.

To achieve this, firms must ensure their customer interaction management systems facilitate a smooth transition between contact points, with agents able to see the customer’s interaction history across all channels.

For further information on the importance of a connected approach to customer service in today’s multi-channel world, contact numero.

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