A tale from the front from Helen Dewdney (AKA The Complaining Cow), detailing the dangers of treating customers wrongly on social media.
I have a blog. On my blog I share my experiences effectively complaining to companies, large ones usually. Chris Hargreaves eventually won his case against Scottish Provident after years of hard work sweat and tears (including going to the Financial Ombudsman twice). He has already undertaken work in raising the issues around Personal Insurance not paying out and Scottish Provident in particular. A Twitter campaign and appearances on programmes such as the BBC Rip Off Britain have helped this. But there is still work to do in raising awareness of the issues. So, given that I like a good fight and like to raise awareness of how and why you should complain, I was delighted that Chris accepted my invite to write a Guest Post which was published on the 11thFebruary. The brilliant “Likes to Remain Annoymous” @simplem+ths created a great image to go with it and I posted it on my Facebook Page and we got some retweets and received about 5 – 600 views. Not bad for a customer.
So, that was that. After a great couple of weeks enjoying consumer power I thought it was about time I wrote another post. So on the 4th March I posted another piece about gaining a refund from the National Grid and tweeted about that.
Stage 1 of Effective Hole Digging
After a few weeks I moved on and wrote another post on Monday the 4th March about gaining redress from the National Grid. On the 6th March Neil Cameron their Social Media chappie emailed me and said he didn’t have a problem with the post but thought the picture defamatory and would like it removed by the end of the week. Brilliant! Chris’ post got a second lease of life. I started tweeting linking to the post saying things like “Scottish Provident want me to change the picture in this post what do you think?” So those tweets got retweeted…. a lot. A few more hundred visits to the post! Thank you Neil.
Stage 2 of Effective Hole Digging
I then followed lots and lots of people that Neil followed and followed him knowing that a few at least should follow back. They did. Just wanted to increase my chances of people seeing it who were working in the area and with links to Scottish Provident. Thank you Neil.
Stage 3 of Effective Hole Digging
I changed the picture. To an even better one. Didn’t use the logo or the name but it’s fun! At the moment it figures on the 3rd line of the first page of Google images when you put “Scottish Provident” in Images. Click on the image and it takes you to my Blog. Thank you Neil.
Stage 4 of Effective Hole Digging
Pretty obvious what I did next huh? Yep. With a link I tweeted, “Scottish Provident wanted me to change the picture so I did, what do you think?” So of course this got lots more retweets and hundreds more return and new visits to see the picture. Sometimes I put Neil’s Twitter name in the Tweet so he could see what was going on and well, if he wanted to tweet an answer to the question he could. He didn’t. Never mind. Thank you Neil.
Stage 5 of Effective Hole Digging
First week in April, I have an article about the issue published on the Ingenious Britain website. Thousands and thousands of visits a month. A few of those readers might want to have a look at the picture and the article, particularly as it’s about Insurance which they might have. Thank you Neil.
Stage 6 of Effective Hole Digging
This article will amuse a few people; some will like the humour, some will like the thought of a big company undertaking a PR backfire, some will like the irony, some will like the nature of the article sharing the facts to warn people about taking out this insurance and many of these people will want to make that hole bigger. So not only have hundreds possibly thousands more people read the article, many will share it on their social networks and the blog post gets yet more views. Oh and the picture will of course rise in Google image rankings. Thank you Neil.
Stage 7 of Effective Hole Digging
Not sure yet. But given that originally the article got about 500 views and the Blog moved on and now the post is at thousands more since Neil at Scottish Provident helped the marketing of my Blog, who knows, might get down to Australia….. Thank you Neil.
Lessons Gained Regarding Using Social Media
1) Sometimes you may just be unlucky enough to cross paths with a customer like The Complaining Cow who takes pleasure in using your words against you!
2) Don’t underestimate the power of an annoyed customer or one with a warped sense of humour or a creative mind!
3) Remember that the number of followers on Twitter a customer has, is wholly irrelevant. Those with high numbers will have thousands of people more to read and retweet. But those with low numbers are more likely to be engaging meaningfully with many of their followers and therefore actually read and Retweet.
4) Remember you don’t really know who is following who. I only have a few thousand following me but I have a follower whose business it is to inform about Bad Service. People following him are people interested in which companies are providing bad service. He has about 30k followers and retweeted more than one of my Tweets! That’s a lot of people who will take notice.
5) Assess risk. However much you want to right a wrong using Social Media what is the cost of doing something against doing nothing. I’ve probably lost Scottish Provident a few customers, (starting with myself who never was one of course!) but frankly, how many more did they lose themselves….?!