Yesterday Leah Milner wrote an interesting title in The Times Money asking whether we as consumers should be “using Twitter to complain about poor service?”. The article highlighted numerous case studies of customers have complained on Twitter and got something back, including:
“James Allan, 27, from London, was given free line rental for seven weeks by BT after complaining on Twitter about how long it took the company to set up his telephone connection when he moved house.”…and….Michael Lamb, age 37, from London, was given a free mobile phone upgrade worth about £100 from Carphone Warehouse after he tweeted his complaint when staff failed to deal with a fault with his phone despite several visits to the company’s stores.”
The article also explains how banks are laggards when it comes to awnsering customer service questions and complaints on social media: “UK banks are yet to engage fully with customers on Twitter, with most just using the site for their own publicity, although they are undoubtedly keeping an eye on negative feedback on their brand. Part of the reason for their caution may be security concerns as it would be dangerous if customers were to reveal sensitive personal information when communicating with banks in a public forum. First Direct already uses the site and HSBC says it is looking at how best to develop a customer service presence on Twitter.”
However, the most interesting case study from the article, in my opinion, describes how a group of comsumers got together to ask KLM to “charter a transatlantic flight for music fans hoping to attend the Ultra Music Festival in Miami. The festival-goers were annoyed that KLM was launching a new flight schedule with a direct flight from Amsterdam to Miami, starting one week after the festival. They challenged KLM to charter a dedicated flight if they could find 351 passengers to fill the plane. KLM has now agreed to schedule an extra flight on March 21.”
In my opinion the KLM case study is more than simply being an example of how to complain effectively using social media; it illustrates the power of ‘collaborative complaining’ (just made that term up) and in a way could be said to be loosely associated to the notion of collaborative consumption (a form of ‘capitalism for the greater good’ idea). The Term ‘Collaborative Consumption’ was first coined (I think) by Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers in their book “What’s Mine is Yours: How Collaborative consumton is changing the way we live” and is described as being: “the rapid explosion in swapping, sharing, bartering, trading and renting being reinvented through the latest technologies and peer-to-peer marketplaces in ways and on a scale never possible before. If you’ve used a car sharing service like Zipcar, experienced peer-to-peer travel on Airbnb, given away or found something on Freecycle or lent money through Zopa, you’re already part of the rise of Collaborative Consumption.”
Whilst 2010 saw a massive increase in group purchasing through services such as Groupon, perhaps in 2011 we will see an increase in consumers coming together through interests without the need of a specialised platform such as Groupon. Services such as Groupon and Living Social are limited in terms of what they can offer due to their top-down approach, in particular when it come to more niche interest groups which require a lot more in depth understanding about consumers wants.
So how has Twitter worked for you as a customer service channel? and what potential do you think there is in the notion of ‘Collaborative Consumption’?
Personally I’ve found complaining on Twitter useless but it does at least give me a platform on which to extend my bad mood and frustrations about a company (sorry if this has annoyed you).