Great Case on Social Media Turned Into a Bad One by The Traditional Media

Great case on social mediaIt all started with Lara – a user of social media, unhappy with her wireless company, making a complaint about it on Twitter, the company returned to her and fixed the problem. It is a great story of customer service on social media which one should think about.

Lara was contacted by a journalist from Newspaq that wanted to share her story, but suddenly this was made with a total different angle: Big Brother watching you, invasion of privacy by companies and Lara the actual source to the whole story got told that they were not going to bring her angle, as it was “too positive”. You can read that story on the online version from one of the largest tabloid papers in Denmark (it’s in Danish, though – but Google Translate will give you the essence of the story).

I for one am dead tired of incompetent journalists that still think we live in the age of total editorial control of a story; journalists that have attended the university of negative stories are the best stories. For that reason alone, we are going to bring you the story told by Lara Mulady herself – and I hope other blogs are going to do the same:

Great case on social mediaWritten by Lara Mulady, 32 (unfortunately not 31 like everyone seems to be saying). A Brit settled in Copenhagen, working as a Communications Assistant at Vizeum Denmark primarily with social media and online communication. Hear what else she might complain about @laramulady:

Shortly, after moving into our new flat, we settled on Fullrate as our Internet provider. All seemed fine, but after a while the connection kept cutting out and we had to re-enter our password on a daily basis. Needless to say, while not the biggest problem in the world, it was hardly what you’d expect or want, and by after Christmas, we were lucky if we could log on at all.

After making sure it wasn’t a problem in our computers (we could still log on to other open networks) and after changing the channel on the router, I eventually snapped and tweeted;

Great Case on Social Media

The next morning, I received this in my inbox;

Great case on social media

Was I impressed? Yes. Very! I told them as much and a brief e-mail conversation followed, where they established the problem (remotely) and told me that it was a fault with the router and a new one was being sent out to me (the whole e-mail conversation is at the end of this post, if you’re curious). I’ve since received the router, and spoken with Fullrate a few times about setting it up, changing the password etc (I might add that they even offered to translate everything for me), and so far – it’s working perfectly.

Of course, I tweeted about this (including a link to the first e-mail), and also put it on Facebook. What surprised me was that I actually got some negative feedback from it. People thought it was ‘creepy’ or that the whole thing was too ‘Big Brother’ like. Yet, the majority of response (especially on Twitter) was positive.

It all came to a head when on January 7th, I received an e-mail from a journalist friend of mine saying she had been ‘outraged’ by it. She had asked ‘Forbrugerrådet’ (the Danish Consumer Council) about it, who had said it was a violation of my privacy, and therefore she would like to interview me to find out how I felt about it. Since our chat, I have received a couple of other phone calls leading to articles all based on the original. Most – thankfully – are neutral, and actually include my point of view, yet a couple try to spin this in a negative light, and fail to mention that I was actually pleased about this!

The whole thing leaves me baffled.

First – the Internet is not a private place. If you say something online – especially on social media! – you have no right to claim it as private. If you don’t want others to read it – don’t post it.

Secondly – since when was Twitter some untouchable private sphere? How on earth can people be surprised or upset about Fullrate finding my tweet on Twitter, but they’re OK with posting a complaint (for example) on a brand’s Facebook page? The original journalist found out about the story via my Facebook profile, so surely she’s breaching my privacy just as much as Fullrate? If not, where’s the line? Personally, I don’t think there even is a line. The irony of people complaining about privacy on Twitter, via Facebook, is just overwhelming.

Third – customer service. I wish I didn’t have to say more, but apparently I do. This is brilliant! One of the things we tell clients at Vizeum (my place of work) is that this social media thing isn’t just a flash in the pan, and they must scan Facebook (if they’re not on there already) and Twitter for their brand (or what have you). It’s an incredibly easy (you don’t even need a profile), free and effective way to get an idea of what’s being said, and in this case, it turned one annoyed customer into one who is currently defending them!

She asked if I felt weird that they had found me online and contacted me without my permission. I do think that it would have been more suitable with a tweet, instead of an e-mail, but in this case – I don’t mind one bit. I’m a lot easier to find in databases than ‘Line Poulsen’.

I am surprised to see how much attention this has received. I know that when it comes to Facebook, privacy is a touchy subject, but this was through Twitter. If I didn’t want my tweets to be read, I would have a private profile. Think about what personal data is available through Facebook, and then through Twitter. As I said in the interview, I feel far – far – more secure about my personal details on Twitter than I do on Facebook.

My hope is that people see how effective Fullrate has been, and how this has turned me from being an unhappy customer, publicly complaining about them, to a very satisfied customer – very publicly defending them! I hope that brands/companies read it, ignore the negative tone, take an interest in Twitter and begin to search too. People talk, reputations are made or destroyed online and it’s about time this was realised.

My one bit of advice to Fullrate (and I am a bit surprised they haven’t done this) is – get a Twitter profile! This is just one case. There are others out there – go listen.

Get Ready for the Bots – on Facebook Messenger

2Facebook Messenger was released 5 years ago and now has over 900 million users. Originally receiving a flood of negativity towards a standalone messaging app, compared to one simple Facebook app, users seem to be warming to it. The decision to make it standalone does make a lot of sense, since messaging is a big part of people’s lives nowadays and Facebook even bought the domain to launch a version for web browsers last year. Their 900 million users will more than likely be merged with Whatsapp’s 1 billion users, which means that Facebook will have the personal phone number of every single user – sounds like $19 billion well spent.


Open for Business

So that’s humans covered. Where to go next? Facebook is now venturing into their next Messenger-based project: bots. If you haven’t been keeping up, Facebook launched Messenger Platform last month, which holds within it, chatterbots. Luckily, these bots are not machine learning bots, such as the disaster that was Microsoft’s Tay. They do have some humorous replies if provoked but they ultimately steer the conversation back to the subject they’re designed to cater for. Thanks to their highly advanced Send/Receive API, these bots are able to reply with actual structured messages, including links, images, hotel reservations, the weather etc. You may immediately compare this to Apple Siri, Microsoft Cortana, Google Now and Amazon Echo, but what sets bots on Messenger apart is the fact that businesses can develop them, which in turn gives them another way to develop customer service. Simply put, bots could end up changing the world by replacing humans in such job sectors. Without the bespoke customer service integration that Messenger bots provide, the above voice-activated services will most likely not be able to solve business-related queries themselves. Having said that, the way bots behave is very reminiscent of the way Siri does. Maybe they’ll talk to each other one day and we’ll get the best of both.


Customer Service and Added Value

So how can these bots work for brands? Well, eventually, every major company in the world will have an account, which will be a first port of call when contacting their company. The reason this is almost definite is due to Facebook’s already-mammoth-sized network of users. It doesn’t get any bigger than Facebook when advertising to individual people, so connecting Messenger bots (as customer sales reps, for example) is extremely attractive. Messenger codes, one of many things taken from Snapchat, will also make it easier for businesses to connect with their customers. One industry example is how bots will almost certainly change how banking works for the consumer, replacing an app or web-based system with a dialogue with a machine that is able to understand your every need. The option to send money within Messenger itself is highly likely too, like Snapchat allows. This could also eliminate the hassle of speaking to a bank’s voice recognition system when calling by telephone – no more time (and money) wasted by the dreaded “I didn’t catch that. Please try again.” These voice recognition systems are essentially bots done badly, but they’re based on voice, which is a lot more difficult to translate into zeros and ones. Plus, you cannot autocorrect your voice (yet). I can see this whole system being replaced by bots – it could even connect you to a human advisor with ease, as you’re most likely already using your phone. Even if you’re using the desktop version or Facebook Chat, I’m sure they’ll figure something out. Besides banks, what other markets will benefit from this? Restaurants, travel and possibly supermarkets with online shopping services are big industries for it to thrive. The healthcare industry could also be a large portion – Healthtap have already created their bot, which isn’t surprising considering one of the first ever chatterbots was called DOCTOR and simulated a psychotherapist. In fact, the potential amount of markets are endless for this stream of interaction – just like it is with human customer service.


At the end of the day, customers are moving towards messaging as their preferred choice of customer service. And as generations progress, it will no doubt become the standard – a phone call will most likely be reserved for long, meaningful conversations with friends and family, which in turn will add even more meaning to them. The phone call will no longer be taken for granted, but talking to robots will be.