How To Solve Customer Service Disasters When All Else Fails

How To Solve Customer Service Disasters When All Else Fails

Dealing with the any of the big telcos, banks or energy companies is usually a total nightmare. You’ll be bounced from person to person over the phone before being “disconnected” and left to start the grind all over again. You have all done it before. So what do you do to solve your dramas when you’re at the end of your tether? Find the answers online, you will.

Image: Smashing Phone from Shutterstock

It’s a fair bet that every major Australian brand has a presence on Twitter, Facebook and maybe even Google+ and LinkedIn. Where their customers are, that’s where these companies want to be. Control over the corporate message online is important, but what’s more important is how brands can use these social media feeds for customer service and satisfaction.

No longer can you, the customer, scream at a brand online in an empty, digital room. Now you’re shouting and the brand is listening, and responding to your gripes in real time. But what if you have been reduced to shouting by bad customer service elsewhere in the organisation? Turn to social media, you must.

If you have been bounced around day-after-day and time-after-time, it’s worth sending out a tweet, making a post on a brand’s Facebook page or just ranting and raving about them in general on social media. The tools these brands use will be able to find your dissent even if you’re not tagging in the brand.

Once you get a reply from a brand’s social media account, you’ll likely either be directed to a more private live chat service to talk out the issue with a real person, or asked to fill in a web form with your information so that the social media team can get your problem solved.

These folks are trained to solve complex issues, and they don’t spend all day getting screamed at by in-bound calls, they just get stuff handed to them to sort out from sites like Twitter and Facebook. You’re more likely to get a good customer service experience from someone who doesn’t spend all day having their spirit systematically broken by angry customers.

So the next time you’re staring down at your bill, customer service number in hand ready to dial, keep calm and social media on.


  • I take care of social media complaints for a fairly significant web/phone sales company, and I can tell you that anyone who uses that format to complain can go and fucking die.

    In pretty much every single case I’ve investigated the customer has made some unreasonable demand which we’ve rejected (sure, I’ll drive to your house at 9pm to hand deliver a $50 item), and then gone to put their one sided argument online.

    The interesting bit? Only 1 in 20 customers will actually talk to you to resolve the problem. Websites like ProductReview allow a company to reply, and in every single one I put my email address & ask them to contact me to resolve the issue. 5% of them contact me and things are resolved easily. The rest just want to let off steam.

    • It is basically the same as making a fuss in a restaurant. You make noise where you can be heard to get better service.

      You cant blame people for the fact that it will work and they will get more attention.

    • I hope the company you represent comes across your comment here. You obviously don’t like your job or the interactions you have with customers and should look for somewhere new to work.
      It’s people with your attitude that cause problems for both customers and the company.

    • Agree with you, jeffoh. Most people just want to vent on social media, not look for a solution. I don’t agree with saudade’s comments about your attitude, considering you take the time to contact complainers to try to resolve their issue. Most customers have the attitude problem.

    • While to a certain degree I can sympathise – I have had a bad experience with a large Australian company (I shall not name for obvious reasons) which had the most unprofessional staff talk down to me, intimidate me and when I asked for his name, put the phone down on me.
      While its simple to get into racial descriptions I put it down to a lack of proper training and handling of customer complaints and diverse situations, as well as not having given the real autonomy to really do anything. Some also get a kick out of lording over customers because they have the upper hand of authority, especially within the service sector.
      I consider myself a soft-spoken person with a placid and calm personality. I don’t like talking down to people and I don’t like aggressive confrontation, hence my avoidance of my using such tactics.
      I felt really aggrieved and hurt he had done that – I wrote a formal complaint – had that swept aside, and then wrote on social media to follow up on this since formal complaints are hush hush and hence the obvious temptation to overlook it because there will be no negative limelight.
      My account was then hacked into later that day – very coincident. I shall not point fingers but I’ve never been hacked into my entire life. No customer service staff came to talk things over with me, no one even gave me so much as a “I’ll look into it”.
      Needless to say I switched companies and never looked back.
      So while your position does have its merits, I’m thinking that customers like myself end up on the losing end because while you’re being paid to deal with these situations (which consist of unfortunately, some very unreasonable, horrid customers) I am at the receiving end of paying for a service that is denied to me, then given a slap in the face not over a $2 surcharge and demanding it be hand delivered by a vestal virgin, but over a potentially urgent situation that involved a persons/’s livelihood.

  • I also manage the social media complaints where I work, and have the exact same experiences with ProductReview. People only leave reviews to slander your company’s online reputation, rarely due to having an issue that needs to be resolved. Whingepool is almost as bad.

  • Having been the subject of a customers rant on social media, I totally disagree with this. This is promoting the whole “whinge on the internet = get what you want” mentality. Having worked in customer service this is my golden tip that all customers should follow.

    Be a good customer, get good customer service.

    Pretty simple really. Most of the time people take to the internet to complain that they didn’t get what they wanted because the vendor in question does not offer the exact service they want. This is not the vendor’s issue, it is the customer’s. If they do no understand the service offering and their “rights’ within what is provided then sending them to rampage on social media is one of the worst things to do because then the company has to cave in unrealistic expectations to avoid a potential PR issue because of 1 jerk customer.

    If you have issues, take it to the right place, the internet is probably not that place.

    • Having dealt with big Telcos regarding a couple of issues (one resolved today) its not always about being a good customer and being given good customer service. I’ve come from a Call Centre work background so never yell or get irate with customer service staff, they are just doing a job (no matter how well/poorly) and I never saw bad behavior being rewarded when I was on the other side.

      That being said I have found that internal complaints channels are pretty effective at getting a result if your having no luck through the normal channels (you can get such numbers from the company your dealing with or the TIO or similar agency). I spent the last month (6 visits) politely dealing with Telco staff in an Icon store regarding a damage report for insurance, after having no luck I spoke to the complaints section this morning and the issue was resolved by close of business today. Granted mine was a pretty basic request (not costing the company a cent) and it should not have taken so many attempts but i think its a more direct and less asinine approach than ranting on the internet.

      Long story short I agree, take it to the right place (complaints sections, TIO etc)

  • All great in theory…. But none of what you have detailed above has worked with the #epicfail that #kogan #koganmobile is….. You still get no response back from the company other than a canned cut&paste about it all being Telstra’s fault. Telstra’s fault that porting is taking longer than it should… Perhaps. However it’s not Telstra’s fault Kogan & Koganmobile can’t answer the phone, reply to an email or respond to help desk tickets logged on their own website.

    I don’t think the TIO will have any better luck, their phone system has probably crashed with the volume of #koganmobile complaints

  • Sadly from a customer’s prospective, when a large company has a poor social media presence, it’s pretty much an uphill battle. Experienced it 1st hand with an automotive company trying to break into the OZ market, so naive they didn’t even have a complaints dept. So solving an issue was a long and frustrating process.
    On the other hand I’ve seen companies like Optus jump on complaints like a champ and actively engage in solving it openly. So not only do others see the process, it’s a PR win in service at the same time.
    Having a social media presence is important because your marketing all the time. It’s how you conduct the marketing that makes the difference.

    • People don’t always have reasonable complaints though and a lot of the time the whinges you see are more than a little one sided and lets say economical with the truth.

  • I have NEVER had a complaint resolved by posting a complaint on a social media site. I have had a few instances where I was so frustrated that I considered that to “Name and Shame” was a last resort.
    My overwhelming feeling is that these social media teams are in the PR department, and not in the “Fixing Things” department.

  • My best complain-on-social-media story was less direct.

    I didn’t have a specific issue with any company, I was just complaining that there weren’t any short-term apartment rental places that accepted credit card and didn’t charge the earth. One particular rental agency that DID take credit card saw my tweet, and contact me to recommend themselves.

    I wound up staying in one of their apartments for a few weeks while I was waiting for my longer-term arrangements to come through, and I doubt I would have known they could help if not for that clever bit of social media use.

  • “Be a good customer and get good customer service” is a fallacy in a lot of cases. I have been a good customer and received really bad service. so I have to right to complain in a manner I see fit that will get me the result that I believe I deserve. If they respond I make sure I respond and I am pleasant, which does not always work. So when I read some of the comments on here from some supposed people in customer service I am disgusted. If you think so little of people you should even be in your job. I work in an area that requires exceptional customer service and I have never thought the worst of customers. So how about telling us which company you work for so I make sure I never purchase any services from your company.

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