For five years, I have used Hootsuite as a social media monitoring tool. I have built up an account that now has over 20 tabs for respective clients. Inside of these tabs are a series of streams I love to use to actively listen and engage on behalf of my clients. They include search terms segmented by geocodes, industry-specific hashtags, and an array of other clever ways to learn more about what our customers are saying.
If we're just looking at the tool, by itself, for one user, I can't say I have any complaints about Hootsuite. But today I found myself researching competitors. I was ready to explore similar platforms after a customer service experience left me asking "what just happened?" and “why should I continue to work with these people?”
This experience centered around two major problems: 1) an inability to speak directly with a representative and 2) needing to grow my account a specific way that was unique to what the company had seen previously.
Now before I get on my high horse about what went wrong, let me say that Hootsuite has an incredibly robust customer service plan. You can tweet them, live chat them, “speak” with them on Facebook, and even Snapchat inappropriate pictures with them (okay, I made that last one up).
However, the one thing you cannot do? Get a real person on the phone.
And this is where our problem begins...
My job is figuring out solutions. That's it. People have a problem and they need someone to fix it. They call my company and my team helps them solve the problem. So when I have an issue and I reach out to a Customer Service Representative, what I'm really doing is looking for someone that can help me solve this problem quickly and efficiently.
As someone that identifies their day as "busy" and values their time more than anything else, I go straight for the phone when I need something fixed. It's direct and most of the time, you are put in a one-on-one situation where you and the person that will solve the problem amidst a conversation.
In 2015, with the amount of competition each business is facing, an inability to get a human being on the phone to work together to solve a problem is absurd.
But this is not part of Hootsuite's customer service plan and this led to my first problem. Wanting to push my account in a new direction, I obliged and went to live chat. I went back and forth and truth be told, I was not at my best. My attitude was sour and my response time was limited because I was doing other things. Again, CUSTOMER SERVICE IS BEST HANDLED ON THE PHONE.
We went back and forth until I realized that what I was asking for was not what would be offered. The representative, a very nice guy dealing with a very annoyed and inactive customer, was doing his best to accommodate me, but his hands seemed tied. So we ended the conversation with no changes to the account.
I left work yesterday convinced I was done with Hootsuite.
But when I returned to the office today, there was an email waiting for me from the nice customer service representative -- he worked with his team and he thought he could handle my request.
"Great news," I thought. "A solution! Now if I can find some time to figure out their live chat thing and waste an hour of my day, I may be able to move forward with Hootsuite."
But then I decided that this wasn't going to work for me. (I know, I'm definitely teetering into a loathsome customer, but hear me out). I decided I needed the one thing I wanted to begin with - a phone call. So I gave them my number and told them we should work it out on the phone and I would gladly do what was needed.
And guess what happened? In 5 minutes, they had me paying 3 times my monthly rate with an amazing new setup, laughing with my new best friend in their customer service department, and thankful that I didn't have to spend my evening googling "Companies Better than Hootsuite.”
The Takeaway (Other than CUSTOMER SERVICE IS BEST HANDLED ON THE PHONE)
Every day we deal with our imperfections. Our businesses are no different. We have strengths and we have weaknesses. We succeed and we fail. But when we’re not at our best, it’s how we react in that moment that defines who we are far more than any brand identity we build with cool logos, snazzy blog posts, and cutesy “core values” copy in an “About Us” section. This is the moment where we get the chance to say to our customers, “look, I didn’t hit it out of the park the first time, but I’m here for you and I’m willing to work with you,” which is all anybody wants.
Well, that and to solve things over the phone.