Mario Sundar

LinkedIn's 2nd PR hire. These are my thoughts on products, public relations, and startups.

Comcast – Another Twitter Customer Service Success Story

Readers of the blog have probably read my earlier blog posts on customer evangelism and the new crop of social media tools that facilitate them (Read my earlier post on the triumvirate of customer feedback sites). As I mentioned at our SXSW panel, increased speed of response to customer complaints is one of the benefits of using tools like twitter.

The Past, Present and Future of Social Media and Business

Past

Social media provides a good way for users to either evangelize or deprecate products/services they use (remember Jeff Jarvis’ series of blog posts on Dell-Hell). From a company perspective, this then affords an opportunity for to either adequately respond or bury their heads in the sand. For e.g. since the Dell hell posts, Dell has not only established a blog but also a social media portal to receive and rank customer issues (Read about the conversion of Dell-hell in an interview with Lionel – Dell’s corporate blogger). And, today Dell is considered a prime example of how large corporations should utilize social media (Starbucks recently started their own customer idea portal, akin to Dell’s Idea Storm).

Present

In a similar incident, Mike Arrington of TechCrunch gave vent to his frustrations about a 36 hour Comcast downtime on twitter, which then got blogged about by Jeff Jarvis and actually got noticed by a Comcast executive who contacted him in a matter of minutes.

Within 20 minutes of my first Twitter message I got a call from a Comcast executive in Philadelphia who wanted to know how he could help. He said he monitors Twitter and blogs to get an understanding of what people are saying about Comcast, and so he saw the discussion break out

20 minutes! This was roughly the same time it took for me to respond to Steve Rubel and for Steve Ganz (my colleague and fellow LinkedIn evangelist) to respond to Erica O’Grady when she had issues with LinkedIn.

The really cool part of twitter is that we’re not necessarily talking about customer service reps monitoring thought processes but rather folks like you and me, who are truly passionate about products/services they use.

Future

This next phase of social media will see the focus on real-time video broadcast sites (like uStream) or mobile video broadcast sites (like qik, etc…) in addition to microblogging sites (like twitter, jaiku, pownce, etc…). The basic thought process around social media tools is that slowly but surely they’re going to enable customer service teams to respond to user complaints in a much faster and more effective manner.

What should I do as a user?

So, what are you waiting for, jump onto the Twitter bandwagon. Don’t do it for the customer service but rather to find like minded communities who organically form around common themes. For e.g. as I continue using twitter, I come across conversations that mention LinkedIn (because I track conversations around “linkedin”) and then I add users who have constructive thoughts on LinkedIn. That way I’m growing my community of users around a common theme – in this case, LinkedIn.

Feel free to add me on twitter

What should I do as a company?

1. Empower your employee evangelists

2. Facilitate smoother communication between them and the teams that can make a difference

3. Champion the cause

The coolest part is that anyone working in a company (particularly those evangelists/enthusiasts who who love your product) can easily track conversations around your favorite company. Here are easy steps outlined by Jeremiah to help any business/company/user get started in twitterland.

Filed under: Miscellaneous, Twitter

20 Responses

  1. [...] to connect with folks affiliated to different brands (Read how Dell, LinkedIn and Comcast encountered users on social media sites)  and we may be onto [...]

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  2. Kelly says:

    Hi, I found you through Chris Brogan’s blog. This is a neat story, but beware false Comcast prophets. For a totallly different perspective on how the company treats customers without bully pulpits, read this–the comments especially.

    http://trustedadvisor.com/blog/334/Customer-Service-Showdown–The-Cable-Company-vs-the-DMV

    It’s pretty enlightening.

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  3. nope says:

    If you don’t have a recognizable name (Arrington, Scoble, Calacanis etc) you’re not going to get this kind of treatment. And, for what it’s worth, it was a Comcast engineer who has Arrington on his Twitter list that actually alerted the “Comcast executive in Philadelphia” of the situation. They do NOT monitor Twitter, I’m sorry to spoil the party (they DO monitor dslreports, consumerist and a few other sites/blogs).

    And I’m certainly not going to defend Comcast, ever, but Arrington doesn’t even have a business class service from Comcast. He bitched and moaned over a RESIDENTIAL service.

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  4. Mario Sundar says:

    @Kelly, @nope

    Don’t get me wrong. Comcast is not known for customer service. I’ve had my own 8-hour drama related in an earlier post http://tinyurl.com/5y5k6r titled “Comcatastrophic!”. So, I hear you.

    Having said that, the trend of “evangelists” – could be an engineer, or an executive who monitors or responds to concerns have about their brand is worth noting. They are the true prophets!

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  5. John says:

    The tuned-in folks at Comcast are doing good things. But this is not a success story; it’s a good example of how social media can shine a bright light on failures, actually.

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  6. Mario Sundar says:

    @john

    and hence the effectiveness of twitter as a customer communication tool…

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  7. [...] the hapless (and soon-to-be-happy) customer knows what hit him. These successes are dependent upon understanding the culture of Twitter and of the many many ecosystems within [...]

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  8. [...] for “@comcastcares twitter” reveals a number of links to now-believers-like-myself: Marketing Nirvana, Conversation Agent, BKM Blog, A Wider Net, and Tech Crunch have all blogged similar success [...]

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  9. [...] Comcast – Another Twitter Customer Service Success Story [...]

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  10. [...] Read some of the positive buzz and other nice things being said about them:  Here.  And here.  And here, too.  [...]

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  11. [...] Comcast Cares on twitter – A pretty well known online anecdote, but still great. Comcast (US cable provider) scan twitter for their brand name – as you can on like of tweetscan and summize and come to the rescue of – quite oftern uber-bloggers, fixing their opinion former problems and getting blogosphere praise. Check out their @comcastcares twitter for some live customer care. [...]

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  12. [...] Comcast recently scored big with it’s Twitter outreach program. When Michael Arrington from the huge blog Tech Crunch wrote a “tweet” about Comcast’s 36 hour downtime, a Comcast executive responded within 20minutes, giving twitter users and bloggers a positive story about the company. Check out the story here. [...]

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  13. [...] people. It works. Look, don’t believe the posts about Comcast’s success, or Dell’s strategy to collect and rank customer issues (but you should at least read about [...]

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  14. [...] gaffe with the Nike Women’s Marathon and earned some respect for it.  And by now, you know what Comcast has been doing to admit their shortcomings and fix problems on the fly. Network Solutions has been successfully [...]

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  15. [...] do cliente em menos de 1 dia depois de uma reclamação do cliente. Essa é a mais recente, mas outras histórias seguem a mesma linha. Tanto que tem uma porrada de gente chamando o Twitter de Social [...]

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  16. [...] 8 ) Monitor the buzz about your company, product or service using Twitter’s search engine. (Like Comcast.) [...]

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  17. [...] 8 ) Monitor the buzz about your company, product or service using Twitter’s search engine. (Like Comcast.) [...]

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  18. [...] Examples: 1. My response to Steve Rubel 2. My colleague Steve Ganz’s (LinkedIn) response to Erica O’Grady (via Twitter) 3. ComcastCares’ response to Arrington and other Comcast users on Twitter [...]

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  19. [...] cierto, un jóven de Comcast se presentó puntualmente a conectarme el Internet y el cable. Comcast es una empresa que ha recibido innumerables quejas en su servicio y que gracias a social media, ha [...]

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