Sometimes 140 characters is just not enough from a brand perspective.

Consumers believed that they have long been subjugated to the rules, terms & conditions by Brands, most of them loaded in favour of the Brand/Company.

Then along came FaceBook followed by Twitter. Took some time for people to get used too. Suddenly the Social Media Agency stepped in teaching the Brands how to communicate/reach out to people, the millennials, run contests, get participation and see Sales zooming up. Most Brands were not digital savvy so relied on advice, opened accounts on every platform and waited, wanting to understand and learn from the new medium.

Unfortunately as it happens in the evolving but yet to mature market, consumers learn faster than Brands, so it happened. Consumers had the ‘Power’ power of Brand Bashing.

You did not like an ice cream/coffee/chicken/service/person go right out on Twitter and start bashing; get your followers or some celebrity to RT and you’re set. Mind you, all of this was/is not bad; there are brands who just don’t give a damn to regular channel of communication but scramble around to resolve the publicly aired problems. And here some of the genuine Brands have a problem.

Most Brands have an escalation matrix that is mostly followed pretty well, internally, however there is always a time lag in collation, integration, investigation, evaluation and resolution given the number of complaints, platforms, touch points. It is also a fact that few brands practice or advocate proactive customer service or empowerment at staff level.

Against this, Consumers want an immediate resolution based on a single or multiple tweets which necessarily does not have all the requisite information. And then there is the herd mentality which begins ‘Brand Bashing’. In this the main point is gets lost or submerged under an avalanche of tweets.

If your objective is to outrage/bash a brand or get some freebie by participation, don’t read beyond this.

And it is here, that as a Brand owner and consumer both, I’ve found that things do work if a certain process is followed through:

1) Before making a purchase, verify warranty, get relevant documents, read T&C applicable.
2) Keep the relevant documents in a safe place and yes with technology, scan and keep backup that can be accessed from any where and any device
3) When lodging a complaint, have all the relevant facts and seek the docket number/person’s name and time for ready reference & escalation.
4) If telephonic complaint, and a large ticket, try and document it via email.
5) Telephonic followup 48-72 hours; email followup twice a week as required
6) Escalate after two calls, logging the reference repeatedly via various touch points.

If no acknowledgement or revert or resolution, Yes employ other means – Twitter/FaceBook references.

For service levels or food, sure there may be lesser steps then detailed above but yes there are still steps to be followed.

This requires patience, yes, which seems to be in short supply these days of instant gratification But do accept the fact that for most complaints “140 characters are not enough” and you will have a better relationship with the brand.

This article first appeared in DNA on Thursday Oct 31, 2013

Written by AD
ex waiter, angadia, travel agent, dotcomer, dukaandaar, marketeer, people watcher. appreciates single malt, food, friends