Social Media Customer Service Case Study

I have love/hate relationship with my hosting provider, GoDaddy.

I have a host of issues with them, but one of the reasons I’ve stayed with them is 9/10 customer service experiences are fantastic. A typical phone conversation with a GoDaddy customer service rep is proficient, friendly and effective. I like that. I like it a lot. Plus, I’m from Scottsdale where GoDaddy resides, I like the idea that I’m supporting a company that is supporting my former home. So. deeply uncomfortable SuperBowl commercials not withstanding, I stay.

But in January, I was one of the unlucky many who experienced a major fail on my website (I know, I’m a little late writing this post). I made at least 3 phone calls to GoDaddy all resulting in the same jibberish (not to mention the usual up-selling)  about how my problem would be solved soon, it was in the queue. No one really likes being in the queue, its a complete no man’s land. But once you’re there, you have no choice but to wait. And wait I did. Way past the 72 hour outside-chance window they told me it would be.

I don’t really use Twitter to call-out brands in a negative way very often. But in a fit of frustration, I sent the following tweet:

I also had a couple of Twitter conversations about this issue with some others with similar situations:

First we have to applaud GoDaddy for using Twitter so effectively as a customer service tool. This was later in the evening and I actually did not expect a quick reply, even though their phone customer service is 24/7. In fact, based on the complaints flying around Twitter at that time, I knew they had their hand’s full, I wasn’t sure they’d respond at all. This is exactly the kind of best practice other big companies can learn from. And, as with most of my customer service experiences with GoDaddy, the representative was proficient, friendly and effective.



And this time: QUICK.  Five 140-character messages and fixed what 5 days and 3 phone calls could not. Within an hour of my very first tweet, the problem is solved. My message of “Website up. What are you magic?” came seconds after the first DM. That’s how fast the problem was fixed.

It left me wondering what happened here? Was my timing so spectacular that just as I’d had “Twitter-niption” my time in queue came up? Did GoDaddy see my conversations and community size and bump me up in the queue? I really don’t know.

Its also notable that GoDaddy doesn’t mention Twitter when referring people to customer service agents. Maybe they think it isn’t mainstream enough yet? Maybe they are still in test phase? Maybe they still prefer you to call because let’s face it, at its heart, GoDaddy is a sales organization not a customer service organization. A quick look at their Tweets today shows them using Twitter as a promotional tool primarily and still milking their recent “Ewww” SuperBowl ad. Maybe GoDaddy is still trying to figure out how to use Twitter for themselves.

What’s Next?

As a customer, with this company, the lesson was to use Twitter as a customer service tool. There is a good chance I’ll try that on the first go-around next time, why call? I’m now conditioned.  What does that mean for GoDaddy? My guess is that Twitter is a very cost effective tool for their customer service and conditioning me is a benefit for them. They already have 24/7 customer service, why  NOT use Twitter? Instead of sitting on the phone with only me “^J” was probably managing several situations on his customer service dashboard at once, making his time more effective than they person on the phone. Meanwhile, I didn’t have to listen to lame-o hold music or a ill-timed sales pitch.  Customers served per hour has to be significantly higher on Twitter. Cases closed per hour on Twitter might even be higher. And, at least in my case, Customer Satisfaction was definitely higher.

An interesting note: GoDaddy doesn’t know my customer service satisfaction is higher though, because unlike when I make a phone call, I didn’t receive a customer service satisfaction survey. It makes me wonder where they are headed with customer service and social? Are they using social media as a stand alone tool?  Do they assume that they’ll be able to evaluate satisfaction based on Twitter sentiment? I’m pretty sure that’s not effective, ESPECIALLY after conditioning me to Tweet them with my customer service concerns. If people are using Twitter as a customer service tool, your sentiment is going to decrease. That doesn’t mean that satisfaction isn’t high, it just means that customer concerns might outweigh the “atta-boys.”

Also, I didn’t buy any of the many add-on’s I’m usually offered when I’m on the phone. On the other hand, I’m one step further from leaving GoDaddy, in fact, I just renewed several of my hosting accounts for a couple of years. My loyalty has been reinforced. Hard to measure. ESPECIALLY when they aren’t surveying customers appropriately. Does this mean Twitter isn’t effective? No. It means its singularly effective.

I have no way of knowing whether my community size played into the swift resolution for this. If so, well, like it or not, that’s probably the wave of the future. I would advise my customers to look very carefully at who they are talking to, why shouldn’t they use all the information at their disposal? But, it did make me think of @ericteamsupport  and @dsurma whose own Twitter followings aren’t so substantial, but more akin to the average Twitter user’s community size. I wondered how many more days they had to wait? Not exactly egalitarian. But then, I suppose business has never been about egalitarian service, squeaky wheel, high rollers and all.

The take away for me on this issue for businesses, is really the conditioning and its impact on measurement. Be very careful about evaluating social media customer service. Compare apples to apples AND acknowledge that some of the easiest Twitter metrics (like sentiment) to track aren’t appropriate if your customers are effectively using Twitter as a customer service tool.

In some cases, your community might dictate that you use Twitter as a customer service tool, even when the business wants to use Twitter as a promotional tool. This is the essence of social business. The customer has a whole new voice. And while there is balance between promotion and customer service, ultimately, customer service keeps customers. Those customers which are so expensive to acquire in the first place (cost of SuperBowl ad, anyone?) I think in GoDaddy’s case a customer service-only Twitter channel makes a lot of sense for the reasons mentioned here. And for many businesses who are using social media, particularly Twitter, as a customer service tool that has been a very effective tactic.

Also, preparation  I’ll be using Twitter again, so hopefully GoDaddy has plans to ramp up its social and Twitter customer service, because as more and more people use it, they’ll need to continue to add resources. But its also the satisfaction (high). I’d prefer to do customer service over Twitter. I’m there already. I don’t like talking on the phone.  There are more and more people who feel as I do out there. And I’m not moving my hosting anytime soon, because I can Tweet.

Its time. If you aren’t using social media as a customer service tool, start planning to implement. The social web is moving fast and having your internal systems on “go” may take some time.

Ready. Set. Tweet!