May 24

Why Big Companies Actually Aren’t Failing at Social Media

It is 12:14 a.m. I’ve just spent about four hours on the phone with Expedia, only to find out that the errors that caused my woes were 1.) a propensity for Expedia to get flagged for fraud and 2.) a representative who misspelled my email address even though I spelled it for her three times. I like the Expedia website but am not sure if it’s worth going through this again.

I really don’t like ranting. I feel it often fails to give people direction. I just see the state of greed in our country sometimes and I can’t help it.

The problems with big companies and social media isn’t a social media problem. It’s a customer service problem. It’s a moral problem.

It’s really hard for @Expedia to make me happy when it is incredibly obvious that their Indian call center employees are given metrics that I suspect push reps to 1.) sell trips over the phone when customers are perfectly able to book them on the website and 2.) get me off the phone as soon as possible rather than helping me solve a problem. Like it’s not bad enough that the phone connection to India is miserable and they can barely understand you as it is. Now a 15 minute task becomes as dreadful as watching a four hour drama starring Paris Hilton.

I genuinely feel sorry for people who run social media accounts for companies like this one, because they end up picking up the sloppy mess “metrics” cause in large organizations. I just wanted to book the first real vacation I’ve been on in almost two years. Had I not caught the mistake, I would have paid for the same flight twice. This wasn’t a pair of shoes from DSW. This is an international flight we are talking here.

Human beings aren’t numbers. When you treat people like numbers, they will treat you like a bill. Now, they have things like Facebook, blogs, Twitter, etc. and can call you out when you treat them like crap even though they’ve literally spent tens of thousands of dollars with you.

The future of marketing is to be able to analyze the data a customer gives you and deliver the exact experience they would want. It is not a matter of treating them like commodities. That’s so twentieth century.

  • Kathysierra

    “…not a social media problem…”

    I could not agree more. And by the same thinking, social media won’t help them fix it, either (except through the company using it to listen, of course). More and more I believe that for so many companies, social media is more of a distraction from what really matters… they see it as a way to be “seen as more human” (as the social media experts prescribe). But being *seen* as more human (“putting a human face on the company) means absolutely nothing unless they treat customers as more human.

    I do not care if a company behaves like a human. Or rather, I always know that a company is NOT a human (and thus cannot “love” me). What I care about is the extent to which they remember that I, as a customer, am human.

    Thanks for the post, Michelle.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you for commenting, Kathy.  Sometimes I feel like Holden Caufield here.  It’s like if you call out a brand, they put a jihad on you or something, when all you were trying to do was to get reasonable service.

      What’s weird is that some of my favorite brands have NO human face on the internet.  They just deliver stuff on time, follow up when I need them to, and have easy to use websites.  Funny how that works out.

  • Anonymous

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