The standoff on the Bathurst streetcar last week, with TTC riders refusing to leave and the operator refusing to drive, all captured video, illustrates how nothing is private any more. An angry tweet about bad service at a store, restaurant or airport can easily spiral out of control, especially if other users pile on.
Companies are realizing how customer service is changing in the age of social media.
“You have to operate your organization as if any employee at any time could be on the six o’clock news,” said Wendy Cukier, professor of information technology management at Ryerson University. “It has heightened the consciousness of how important customer service is.”
Social media adds a level of transparency and accountability that companÂies have never seen before, Cukier said. “Not having a social media strategy is no longer an option.”
John Pliniussen, associate professor of Internet marketing at Queen’s University, agrees companies should monitor comÂments. It doesn’t require a big budget to set up Google alerts that mention a business or product.
“In this day and age, you never close. Customers have a voice 24-7,” he said. He doesn’t see this feedback as negative. “You want people to complain. You want to know when you have a problem.”
Keith McArthur, vice-president of social media for Rogers Communications, leads a small team dedicated to helping customers online – from third-party blogs to creating user forums. That means dealing with everything from billing inquiries to technical supÂport or questions around policy.
Scott Stratten, Oakville-based author of UnMarketing: Stop Marketing, Start Engaging, said people have often put up with bad service because they couldn’t be bothered to write a letter or fill out a comment card. “Social media, blogging and Facebook allow us to vent our true feelings, instead of having to confront a driver on the TTC or a waiter.