Charter Cable Kills Customer Support Via Social Media

by Mack Collier

I saw Ike Pigott mention on Facebook that Charter Cable was killing customer support via social media, especially Twitter:

“As you may have heard, Charter will no longer have a customer care team tasked, specifically, with resolving matters raised on Social Media…

Monday, December 10, 2012: We will no longer respond to posts that we discover while conducting Charter searches. We will, however, continue to respond to @Charter and @CharterCom mentions until Saturday, December 15th.

Friday, December 14, 2012 (5pm): All the Umatter2Charter accounts (which includes: @Charter, all our individual accounts, as well as the Umatter2Charter Facebook page, Forum accounts, and accounts on Consumer Advocate Sites) will be removed.”

I checked the responses on Twitter to the @Umatter2Charter Twitter account (oh the irony), and saw responses like this:

What I found interesting about the responses to @Umatter2Charter was that none of them were critical of the team on Twitter, in fact many customers stated that the customer support they received on Twitter was the only thing they liked about being a customer!

So why would Charter pull the plug on using social media as a customer service channel?  I am not a Charter customer, but my guess is that Charter wants to use social media as a channel to drive new customers, instead of providing customer service to existing ones.  So they likely see the team’s efforts on Twitter as a ‘waste’, even though as these tweets prove, Charter’s CS efforts on Twitter are actually improving the brand’s image.

But additionally, this likely speaks to the core problem that social media is not a contingency plan for having a shitty product.  This is also one of the points I hit on in Think Like A Rock Star, but the true value of connecting with your customers online isn’t as a sales channel, it’s as a feedback channel.  By closely analyzing feedback from your customers, you can not only get a better understanding of who they are and how you can help them,but your marketing efforts become much more effective and efficient.

Recently, I did a social media strategy audit for a client in the hotel industry.  As part of this, I looked at how their competitors were utilizing social media.   In general, what I found was that on Facebook, the walls of every brand were turned into an area where customers bitched about the service the brand had given them.  They bitched, the brand apologized and gave them an email of someone to contact, and that usually ended the exchange.  Occasionally, the customer would return to point out that the situation still hadn’t been resolved.  I can easily see how an out-of-touch brand could look at this and think ‘No matter what we do, customers will keep complaining, so let’s just kill Twitter and Facebook and spend that money on something else that we know works.  Like advertising!’

If Charter had told you that they were going to stop providing customer service via social media because they didn’t see the value in it, what advice would you have given them?

Previous post:

Next post: