business, consumer experience, general communication, social media, technologies

Not everybody’s social

frontline gaps can be costly

The following post amounts to little more than a customer service gripe.  Not much, but a little.

It’s well proven that social media is brilliantly effective at rescuing shaky customer experiences when the patience begins to fray, but should it have to?

Last week’s O2 outage opened the floodgates for many to either slate or credit the mobile operator’s frontline customer service representatives.  A tough ask, but consensus seems to have teetered on the side of a thumbs up.  They weathered the storm ok, most of the key communication channels were open and updated, customers were largely kept as informed as possible.

Slightly less of a big deal, but around the same time as O2’s network fell over I received an email from Endsleigh which asked me to renew my home insurance.  There wasn’t much coverage of this in the weekend newspapers, hence the blog.

My only grumble about Endsleigh’s service up to now was the absence of an email response after I’d completed a web form.  A month went by and it slipped my mind that I’d received no response, meaning I had to call them to resolve the issue.

Last Friday’s email offered me a link to a log-in page with pre-populated personalised fields, all of which looked correct, so I clicked the log-in button.  I received a failure message, asking me to call them.


It was approaching the end of office hours on a Friday so I didn’t call and instead sent a mildly vexed tweet.  What sweet catharsis.

I had to wait until Monday for a response.  Firstly it prompted me to try again, and the failure message presented itself again.  This time I tried to call the phone number it presented.

Nothing happened.  It hung there agonisingly, possibly a digit short.  That was annoying too.  At this point Endsleigh could count itself lucky that I was a lazy customer who couldn’t be bothered to indignantly take my custom elsewhere.

If I couldn’t log-in, couldn’t call them and couldn’t trust they’d respond to a web-form, I suppose Twitter was my best method.  But all I wanted to do was say yes, I’ll take the renewal, have some more of my money.  Why were they making this so difficult?

To their credit, this time it worked.  I was quickly engaged with via Twitter.  While my assumption that I’d receive a quick call upon giving a reference number was dispelled, they did then ask for a contact number and time to call.  Endsleigh’s phone reps always seem human, personable and efficient.

But it was still a generally shoddy customer experience.  You wonder how many customer-centric organisations might be overbalancing towards social today and neglecting basic web stuff.

Emails, contact forms, websites and accurate phone numbers..

Yeh, like, whatevs pops..  It’s totally all about social now.

Clearly it’s not.  Not for everyone.  Web 1.0 media are older, less instant, less interesting, but still very important.  When social channels are so wildly saturated it’s reassuring to lean on direct and simple channels which are regularly monitored and just work.   As the backbone of most customer-centric organisations, an equal amount of effort should be applied in making them just work.


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