Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

This post is the first installment of the three-part series on Twitter’s Voice In Transportation Customer Service: Three Cases. Putting companies through the social CRM test.

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I think we all remember the ordeal of the Eurostar passengers who got caught in the tunnel under the Channel between the UK and France in December 2009. A whole night trapped in there. At that time, the customer service of Eurostar took a threshing for the mal-use (if that’s not a word, it should be unstated as one!) of Twitter and the media didn’t give the train company much of a chance either.

However, a year later, very few were still openly monitoring the situation and the only piece I could find was by TechCrunch UK: One year after a Twitter backlash, has Eurostar finally got social media?.

Luckily (or nit), just one day after that TechCrunch post was published, I was getting on the Eurostar to return home to Paris after a short stay in blizzard-battered London.

Proof:
Blizzard-battered London (Old Brompton, Kensington - 12/2010) by Liva Judic

Airports closed their runways, flights were cancelled… but strangely enough, the Eurostar was still running albeit with some delay. So I board the white, yellow and dark blue train with great hope of getting home without having to spend any time but the 20 regular minutes in the tunnel. Of course, it was packed. So off we go… And, as usual, off I go too, tweeting away for a few minutes before getting a file out to work on.

First stop, Ashford International where the train usually drops off some commuters and picks up a few passengers to Lille in France (also commuters, i suppose). But then, the train just stays there and we’re ordered to unboard. So I tweet.
Eurostar CRM tweet1 Merrybubbles

And much to my surprise, Eurostar replies with an apology. I can’t remember how long it took but it was reasonable, given that I had simply *not* expected anything from them.

Eurostar CRM tweet2 Merrybubbles

What happened next was extremely interesting. They got us to park in the departure lounge of that small station, where one third of us couldn’t sit. I tweeted to ask the reason why we were stuck since no announcements had been made. They tweeted me back that they had to change the train before making the official announcement in the microphone. Then I tweeted that some people needed to sit and that water or snacks wouldn’t be a bad idea to make us wait. You can see the sequence for yourselves:

Eurostar CRM tweet3 Merrybubbles

Right after that, again, the official announcement was made that water and snacks would be distributed in one single place. There was a rush and within less than a minute, the small reserves they had brought out disappeared. Then another tweet on my part to let them know what had been going on and they served more bottles of water. As an observing participant, I could see groups forming for food — including that one I found myself in: “I get water, who gets snacks? And soft drinks? Gums?,” said one of the people standing next to me, talking to a group of us. Like survival in a train station guide. Reminded me of Lost, the multi-million dollar revenue TV series whose finale was the advertising coup of 2010.
Eurostar CRM tweet4 Merrybubbles

We finally boarded another train and carried on our journey without getting stalled (thank goodness) inside the tunnel.
But on and on it went, with Eurostar not providing information to passengers, me asking for it and Eurostar broadcasting their replies. All the way to Paris, where we finally arrived just after 1.30 AM, i.e. the following day.
I also asked what sort of compensation we would get and they announced on the train that ground staff would help us with compensation claims, saying that they would offer a free return in the same class of travel.

Quick analysis
Initial reaction time was good.
Content was spot on: an apology and promise to do their best.
Then the follow-up was of the poorest quality: customers were kept in the dark unless someone asked for information. I wondered to myself whether I was the only person tweeting the episode since they seemed to follow my cues so closely.

We were handed a phone number to call to redeem our free return tickets. The service there was just perfect, really efficient and smooth (at least the English-speaking one, which is the one I asked to be connected to).

Three weeks later, I boarded the Eurostar again on their freebie for a Paris-London excursion. I was glad I had two work meetings with prospects and could make it without forking out the money upfront (one of the prospects is now a Merrybubbles client for outreach on new media and social, yay!). Service onboard was particularly excellent on the way out so I tweeted it. It was not comparable on the way back (the attendant clearly had an attitude), and so I also tweeted it. On both occurrences, Eurostar replied. First, that they were pleased then that they wanted the train and car number to make sure service would always be good. So good points there. Just for the record, I did not heed to report the attendant however irritating his attitude had been — we all have bad days.

Since then, I’ve been going back and forth twice and am again planning to go in just over a week. And finally, I decided to enroll as a Frequent Traveller again. I used to be one in the very early days of Eurostar, in 1995 – I lived in London and I would visit my family in France quite often. During a whole week, I tried to clock in my various tickets but the process would stall at stage 3 for no reason. So in the end, I sent Eurostar an email to tell them exactly that, specifying that no matter which options I picked or not, it still would not work. Their response, once again, was pathetic: they said that I might have not entered my phone number correctly (although, given their online form, “no matter what options I picked” meant that there was no difference whether I entered a phone number or not at all). In short, they blamed the customer for not filling in the form properly when it’s clearly their platform that is experiencing problems. And as if it were not enough, they attached a form to be returned to them via snail mail. What a fail!!

Lucky for me, on Friday last week, I retweeted an article about social and customer service, saying that I just had had another “epic fail” from Eurostar:

Eurostar CRM tweet0 Merrybubbles

Then I elaborated a little further on my latest frustration by way of the following tweet.

See — another excuse: not able to read my email? Yes, Eurostar, you were able to read and, point in case, you replied. Something totally inappropriate but you indeed replied. They must have realized it because a few minutes later, the finally decide to follow me and subsequently send me this tweet (I’ll let you enjoy their Twitter profile background now that you have seen my tweet):
Eurostar CRM tweet6 Merrybubbles

Way more satisfactory. I DM’ed them my cellphone number. Within the next half hour, Jeremy DUCK from the Eurostar customer service calls. Sends me an email with another form to fill and send right back. Within an hour of my tweet, I was registered as a Frequent Traveler.

What I take away from this is that Eurostar still has some way to go to truly and fully leverage their real-time and social customer service. As it is, it is hugely uneven in quality and it seems that the procedure for crisis communication has not been clearly defined yet. Because I simply cannot believe that a social agency or head of PR in this day and age would set the rules for a blame game on false pretences as a first contact reply. I’m sure whoever they hired to help them with social is good but they may have omitted to train everyone across the various services. As Kate Spiers of Wisdom London put it in her comments of the TechCrunch post, “their Twitter presence is structured very much in terms of organisational / internal structures and siloes and NOT in terms of customer needs, expectations or even logic.”

As I was reading my Twitter timeline this morning, I saw the following Quora question pass by: Is social media the solution to bad customer service? So it made me think. Is it the social part or the customer service part that is flawed in Eurostar’s case? I think it’s a bit of both. I agree with Kate’s position above and truth is that the quality of one (or lack thereof) affects the other as they mutually sustain one another.

To conclude, I’d say the reply by Vladimir Dimitroff, aka Maistora on Twitter, is the by far the best: “The only solution to bad customer service is better customer service.”

On those words, I hope you enjoyed this journey with Eurostar and hope to see you soon (next week) for the second installment of the series, which will be about my experience with the social customer service of the airline Cathay Pacific.

Comments, experience sharing etc welcome!

And you, dear Eurostar, see you in a few days again. Good on you for the latest move with the swift Frequent Traveller enrollment after our Twitter conversation. Amazing what customers can do with a mobile phone!

It is a given, mobile technology is at the forefront of our digital lives and, well, I for one spend most of my public transportation time tweeting from my BlackBerry. Correction: transportation time. [And here is the disclaimer: I don’t tweet and drive. I just quit driving a couple of years back, at least in Paris where I live now.]

Expectations
Not only do I tweet on public transportation time but I also start and maintain conversations with transportation companies (airlines and train so far) across the globe when I happen to be one of their million customers. And of course, I do want my voice to be heard when I need to talk to them *AND* I want them to reply to me and find a solution to whatever issue I’m facing while in their hands. Of course, I expect all of that to happen in a timely manner too, given that our communication channel is a real-time wire – Twitter.

Three Real Stories – Cases
I have been able to experiment a few times the crisis communication dis/abilities of some airlines and of a train company over the past eight months so I’ve decided to share the stories to see how they constitute cases for various levels of crises. All of those happened over Twitter, on my handle, Merrybubbles. There will be three of them, like the three monkeys on the picture below (taken during a trip to Barcelona in January). Three Twitter encounters with transportation companies’ customer services. I will go through them in reverse chronological order.


Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil

Who? Where?
The first installment will be about Eurostar, zipping back and forth between Paris and London. The second one will take us to the marvelous world of Delta Airlines@DeltaAssist service while in Atlanta, GA. And the third one will see us onboard and on the ground with Cathay Pacific in Singapore and Hong Kong.

The series will start on Monday so please, stay tuned!

If you already have Twitter ‘tales’ with customer services to share, drop me a line in comments!

See you on Monday and enjoy a peaceful weekend all. Don’t forget to lend a hand to Japan while you’re in front of your computer – they still need us.

For advertisers, it’s not the game, it’s the audience and the scene. It’s the ads.

Ads: a few picks

The Force: it garnered over 10 million views before the game even started

You can view a rundown of all the ads on Sports Business Daily

There were those that were banned, like this raunchy PETA one:

Historically, Mashable also offers the list of the Top 10 Most Shared Super bowl Ads Of All Times for you to see.

The celebrities:
Loads of them were there. Hugh Jackman, John Travolta, Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Micheal Douglas, Owen Wilson, Jamie Foxx… as cited by the Canadian Press. More such gossip on Hollywood Today and you can see pictures of the celeb attendees on DailyPress.

The social networks:
Some of the aforementioned “celebs” even shared their Super Bowl on social platforms. Will I Am from the Black Eyed Peas, for example, shared via Twitter his whole Super Bowl experience, from the pre-parties to the game itself. Check out the stream of pictures Will I Am took and shared.

WillIAm SuperBowl2011

WillIAm SuperBowl2011

Facebook was all into it too, riding the tidal wave: take a look at at their live voting system during the game. Beyond that, the digital marketing agency Twist Image, published earlier last week an article rightly entitled: Who Will Win The Superbowl? Facebook… That’s Who

And of course, all the ads were available on YouTube… All of them are on the ad blitz channel. Go vote for your favorite!

But there weren’t just the celebs or the brands. ‘Real’ people too. Yes. I, for one, plead guilty too for playing around with the topic on Twitter and posting away on Facebook via a local Super Bowl in Paris group. Twitter was buzzing with comments as the action unfolded. The best avatar of all was Michelle‘s. You remember her, right? Take a look: she sure is rooting for the Steelers*.

Michmski SuperBowl2011 Steelers

Michmski SuperBowl2011 Steelers

Which brings me to…

The audience, i.e. the fans:
Did you know that the President of the United States also hosted his own Super Bowl Party? I would have guessed so much but CNN really took it to the nitty gritty by publishing the menu of the White House Super Bowl party. Uh. No wonder debates about journalism are rife. But let’s leave that debate aside for now.

So. Fans. According to a New York Times articles, Gridiron Girls, women are becoming big fans. Right, Michelle?

This leads me to the last but not least part of this quick roundup: the funkiest video by the one and only — Michelle. Go STEEEEELERS*!

*As I write this up, the game is ongoing so there is no reflection in this post of the upcoming score. I was showing the Packers some love… just because it seemed everyone was for the Steelers. LOL

UPDATE: 4.20 AM Paris time – The Packers have won! Congratulations!!! See you all next year – live from the U.S. maybe?

D minus one and 2010 will be over!

As a follow up to Laurent François’ Social Media Marketing Trends 2010, here is a Flowtown infographic entitled Everybody Is Doing It: How Marketers Are Utilizing Social Media in 2010.

According to the figures, a whopping 65% of marketers have just recently started using social media. they spend one to five hours per week on the social sites, which, does not justify them outsourcing the task (86%). This shows how much the “newbies” understand or know about how social media actually works: it requires time and resources. Deriving quite logically from that, the first question they ask is “How do I measure return on investment on social media?” Budgets mean ROI and vice versa. At least, they are aware of the need to boost their use of social media: 81% intend to increase it in the future… with a one percent group strangely willing to decrease their usage. It would be interesting to find out the profiles of the one percent.

Here it is for you to discover. Click on the image to enlarge.

Everybody’s Doing It: How Marketers Are Utilizing Social Media In 2010
By Flowtown – Social Media Marketing Application

Feel free to comment, copy, embed, share… and always name the original source. Thanks!

Well, it is that time of the year where you either look back at what has happened during tha past 12 months or look forward to what is likely to take place in the upcoming year.

Let’s start with a landscaping of social networking in 2010. I dug this visualization map on the ever-infographic-prolific Flowtown.

Click on image to enlarge.

The 2010 Social Networking Map

Some would argue that is it too exclusively U.S.-centered and does not give its rightful place to less-known networks in Japan for example.

Feel free to comment, copy, embed, share and always name the original source. Thanks!

The Merrybubbles Daily is out!.

The Merrybubbles Daily

The Merrybubbles Daily

Read this Twitter newspaper curated with content by the people I follow

▸ Top stories today by @bluevertical @olv @RyderMedia @auerswald @eisen

Subscribe here.

Here’s a summary of what you need to know in search marketing from last week, in order of recency… Click on headlines to read stories.

Friday July 9th
Consumer Watchdog Believes Google ‘WiSpy’ Potentially Logged Homeland Security Data
Search Agency Update – What Are Companies Up To?

Thursday July 8th
While Twitter Search Booms, Facebook Grows On India And Indonesia As U.S. Slumps
Google “Confident” On Potential In-Depth EU Antitrust Inquiry

Wednesday July 7th
Foursquare, IFC, Huffington Post In Geo-Located Content Deals
Local Search On Smartphones Prime Lead Generator For Businesses [study]

Tuesday July 6th
Yahoo Upshot Blog To Create Search-Driven News Content
Twitter’s @EarlyBird Account To Feed Users With Shopping Deals

Monday July 5th
Skype Moves Near Facebook HQ To Consolidate Mobile, Consumer Electronics Segments
Facebook’s Face Recognition Tagging Feature Signalling Photo Search?

Happy reading and have a good week !