How to avoid being called a “total bunch of clowns” on Facebook

What do you do when you’ve got a single Facebook Page and lots of different customer needs to meet? This is the question facing many brands – and...

O2 Facebook Customer Services

What do you do when you’ve got a single Facebook Page and lots of different customer needs to meet?

This is the question facing many brands – and it’s a tricky one. Should your Facebook Page focus on providing light-touch engagement and entertainment – which fuels the interest of your genuine fans? Or should you provide special offers and exclusive discounts, which many fans list as their #1 reason for Liking brands? Or should you make your Page a collective forum for asking and resolving customer support issues?

Sadly, the answer for many brands seems to be “all of the above”. The result is an unstructured hotch-potch of posts, offers, replies and ignored pleas for customer support. Without wanting to pick on one company, let’s look at some recent posts made by some of the UK’s leading mobile operators, O2, Orange, Vodafone, BT and Three:

O2 Facebook Customer Services

The professional marketing tone of this post from 02 is particularly jarring when read alongside the very human plea below it. Yet the reply went unanswered.

Orange Facebook Customer Services

With this post Orange has, it seems, similarly misread the tone of its page and the needs of its customers.

Vodafone Facebook Customer Services

This post from Vodafone’s marketing team seems particularly mis-targeted, though it did elicit my favourite response of the bunch: “If I was interested in fashion I’d use Google… you total bunch of clowns!”

BT Facebook Customer Services

BT seems to have similarly missed the mark, posting an advert for rugby tickets, while customers are fuming about service problems [I know BT isn’t a mobile operator, but it just shows how widespread the problem is].

3 Facebook Customer Services

To complete the set we have Three thanking their fans for sending in holiday photos, while their fans are clearly livid at overseas charges and service limitations. Something of an own goal.

[My thanks to Richard Hughes, Product Strategy Director of Broadvision, for letting me extract these examples from his excellent presentation at Social CRM 2012 Brussels. You can hear the whole thing here].

Now, clearly, this set of posts is taken out of context and all of these companies have achieved some successes on social media – most recently 02 with their outage response on Twitter – but that simply highlights the issue: how can these companies allow such jarring, cringing, damaging exchanges to happen on their branded Facebook Pages?

I can only think that these posts are the result of the brands attempting to meet conflicting goals on their Facebook Page. It seems bizarre that the companies don’t have cross-departmental strategies in place – in which Marketing, Customer Services, Customer Comms, PR etc. co-ordinate their needs against a clear set of rules – but, sadly, that seems to be the case.

In spite of the rise of social CRM and increasing noise about social business and the development of end-to-end, socially-powered business processes, based a new era of customer-centric openness and inclusivity, it suddenly seems like we haven’t moved on since 2008.

We’re inviting Marketeers and Customer Service managers to join us for our Social Customer Service workshop in London this Weds (10th Oct). We’ll also be discussing “engagement strategies” at Social Media Marketing London on 25th Oct.

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  1. Julio Romo Reply

    The problem here is simple. The operators see these 21st century channels in a 20th century manner. There is a lack of understanding of how to engage with audiences that have given your consent to speak ‘with them’ rather than ‘to them.’

    1. Luke Brynley-Jones Reply

      Hi Julio – Agreed. They either need to restrict access to their Facebook accounts to people who think from the customer perspective, or train them up – and fast.