Social Care Case Study with Phone Carriers

Social Care is all about engaging with your audience when they are talking to or about you.

Last week, a friend of mine decided it was time to open the bidding for cell phone carriers to pitch him on why he should switch to their service. Naturally, he thought that the best way to get the opinions of his peers was to tweet to the world:

It was a great tweet that certainly should have caught the attention of those four major players. Within minutes (ten, to be exact) T-Mobile had inserted themselves into the conversation making the first bid:

A great, fast soft sell on Twitter. And for marketers, a great example of near-perfect Social Care (customer service on social media). Over an hour later, Sprint was second into the mix.

Then I thought it was appropriate to commend the two for paying attention to conversations around the web.

What happened next was particularly interesting. While these two providers shared personalized messages, Verizon and AT&T simply shared automated, unengaged responses. What’s more, these messages seemed to be responding to Lorne thanking him for his business, and encouraging me – someone who has not expressed an interest in buying – to join AT&T.

It’s hard to imagine why some brands would engage with their customers – or potential customers in this way. While a competitor – in this case T-Mobile – is getting it right, other major players are far from the mark. Looking through this conversation, it is clear that there are a few lessons marketers can learn.

Listen, Listen, Listen

Perhaps the most resonating thing I took from this experience was in a conversation I had with Lorne on a private Facebook chat shortly after our public tweets went out.

I, a Verizon client, told him about the service I’ve had and how I like the range of plans they offer for business. Lorne agreed, but, amazingly, told me that he was leaning towards T-Mobile and couldn’t pinpoint why. I could. It is hard to believe that first-mover advantage is still such a dominant theory in the age of social, but this is a perfect case to show that it is. You need to be listening to a broad range of audiences. You never know when or where you might find a new client. Keep your tech-ears to the ground so you never miss an opportunity. When it all comes down to it, it might pay off for T-Mobile in this case.

The Early Tweet Gets the Client

This comes back to what I mentioned above about first-mover advantage. Respond quickly. A recent study shows that people want their questions addressed by a brand within five minutes of asking it. Don’t sit around and wait to respond. Social is all about conversing. Be a part of the conversation in real time.

Pay Attention

Automation works for some things and fails miserably for others. Generally, it is the failures that get the spotlight. When people are having a conversation, don’t be a robot. In this case, Verizon might have been better off staying out of the conversation rather than blindly answering based on another response, paying little attention to what was originally asked. The human touch is invaluable when it comes to social.

Keep these pointers in mind next time you find yourself offering Social Care on a network like Twitter. You never want to miss out on an opportunity because you didn’t take Twitter seriously.

Have you had any experiences – positive or negative – with brands through a Social Care service? Tell us in the comments below or on Twitter!

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