Sunday, April 1, 2012

Dial '' for Customer Care

The average Indian is worse than Mt. Krakatoa. Beaten, bruised, let-down and cheated by all, he trusts no one and in return isn't faithful to anyone for the very same reason. The government lets him down by pocketing his hard earned money to buy their children that expensive little toy (read BMW) with which he could feed his family of four and maybe get a roof on his head. 

When the public sector doesn't come out to help you often enough, you turn to someone of your own kind, the private players. Almost 20 years ago when the massive Indian economy opened its pearly gates to let anyone and everyone in, people heaved a sigh of relief that the western world was here to save the day. Better infrastructure, job security, improved quality of living and a better life, in general, was perceived to be not too far from Indian shores. This dream was not entirely fulfilled because most players exploited a gaping loophole in the Indian law and order system. Well, its not really a loophole its simply the mere absence of law and order in the country that was taken for granted. American brands, which had to take astronomical efforts in order to make sure their customers were happy, were let loose to do almost anything they wished. Products without adequate security labelling, sub-standard and at times toxic materials used for baby products, chemically induced food products and life threatening transportation options maybe a norm amongst their lives. The sole reason why the party went on far beyond the deadline is because the night guard was fast asleep and the watch dog was simply never there.

Birds have often been used in mythology and ancient history as a mode of fast communication or fast transportation. We have all heard of pigeons as messaging systems, mythical demons that can fly and modern planes as the fastest mode of transportation in today's era. Flight was associated with speed, quick dispatch, strength and something very hard to catch and pull down. No surprise that it was lone blue bird that came to the rescue, not just for our country but for the entire world.

Social media is one such tool that started off as a mere way of interacting and connecting with people with brands soon jumping onto the social media bandwagon. Where the people at, we go. In earlier days, in fact even today, when we cal a customer care number, our grievance remains confined to the one-on-one conversation with the executive on the other end. The brands solution to the problem is mostly confined to the same corridor of communication and nobody outside it is familiar unless one makes the effort of spreading it. Social media, and the brands presence on it, has allowed customers to publicly voice their satisfaction or dissatisfaction about a brand to everyone who is listening to hear it. Now, the very same dissatisfied customer can tell thousands of others of their problem and hence negatively influence the purchasing decision of other customers. The advantage for the brand, however, is if the problem is tackled smartly and efficiently, consumers would be proud and they might just gain some followers because even the average buyer understands that everyone can make a mistake every now and then.

The reason of starting this blog was to publicly voice satisfaction or dissatisfaction towards a brand and in almost all the cases, the result has been astounding. Brands who failed to take any kind of action when multiple calls to the customer call centre was made now suddenly sprung into action the moment someone tweets about their product. Try it; the next time a major brand upsets you, put a simple tweet and if you can, tag the brands twitter handle on the message. I can assure you that 7 out of 10 times the brand would respond back and speed up the solution to your problem far more efficiently than they would if you had called a toll free number.

Its sad to see that people need a rap on their knuckles to straighten things up but on the flip side, at least we have brands now give two hoots about their customers bad experiences. I urge readers to use social media to bring out that good/bad brand message which would not only tell your friends and family of what is good and bad but also make sure brands don't take the consumer for granted and in the long-run, improve their service and product quality.

Please feel free to post any thoughts you have upon this or share any other similar experiences that you might have had with regards to brand experiences and social media.


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