Social media is big business. And almost every major business to consumer (B2C) organisation has at least one account on each of the major social media platforms (at the time of writing, that’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram but I’m sure it will change over time).
Unfortunately, there’s a concerning trend starting to emerge – one where the “conversation” is moved to control the brand image. Many brands have set up <brandname>Help accounts for their customer service so that the main brand account is “clean” – pure marketing, untarnished by customers expressing concern about the products and services. Meanwhile, the “Help” account may be operated by a communications agency, simply offering a face and redirecting customers to other channels.
And that’s where the problem lies. If you want to offer omnichannel support, then you need to meet your customers where they contact you. It’s no good offering “help” on Twitter when all you’re really doing is advising customers to phone your contact centre. That does not help. That’s obfuscation. It’s a blatant attempt to preserve the online image of the brand, whilst offering shoddy customer service.
So, here’s my plea to brand managers across the UK. If you offer a <brandname>Help account, then make sure it provides real assistance and is not just signposting to another channel.
I’ll provide an example here, from @KwikFitCS (who responded to my tweet for the main KwikFit account… more on that in a moment), but they are not alone…
Thanks Zoe, I completely understand – the social team is all about PR. You may even work for a communications agency, rather than for Kwik Fit. Unfortunately the account name, bio and pinned tweet all say you are about customer service, which you’ve now told me you are not… pic.twitter.com/IqyBra5eFm— Mark Wilson (@markwilsonit) September 13, 2021
Then there’s the issue of the information that <brandname>Help accounts ask for to verify you before they will provide help…
Hi Mark, I’m sorry to hear this. Please could you send us a DM with your full name, full address, email address and D.O.B? We can then look into this for you. Thanks, Lucy https://t.co/mLPu7xuvTj— Boots Help (@BootsHelp) October 7, 2021
In the example above, @BootsHelp replied to a tweet sent to @BootsUK. And the issue I was reporting was a website problem that was not specific to a single account – the web team could investigate without my personal details. Maybe I should be the one looking for the verification here… not them? That may sound a bit extreme but what’s to stop anyone from setting up a spoof <brandname>Help account and harvesting information from disgruntled customers? (In fairness, the @BootsHelp account has been verified by Twitter, but the @KwikFitCS example earlier was not).
And Boots is not alone – here’s another example from @Morrisons, the UK supermarket chain:
Hi Mark, I’m sorry about this. Please send this Tweet via DM along with the barcode of the product, batch code, photos, store you bought from and a copy of your receipt. Also let me have …..— Morrisons (@Morrisons) October 28, 2021
The request went on to a second tweet:
My inside leg is 30″… my star sign is Aries… is there anything else needed to investigate why a “bag for life” has such a short life? I don’t really care about the bag or the 60p… but this must be a problem for many of your regular customers too…— Mark Wilson (@markwilsonit) October 28, 2021
So, come on B2C Twitter. You can do better than this. How about providing some real help from your social media channels? Preferably without requiring a long list of personal details.