Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Social networking tools (like Twitter) returns the advocate to customer service

When I was 16 too long ago, having just started driving in my bullet nose 1947 Studebaker, I got pulled over for slightly speeding late one night. When the policeman asked for drivers license and flashed his light first on it and then on my face, he then flashed the light on his face and laughingly said: “Lexy, you were about five miles over the speed limit. I’m not writing you a ticket. Go home.” It was Bobby Rollins, the older brother of my girlfriend who lived across the street. He knew I was really a good kid, and let me off with just a warning.

When I bought my first house and went to my bank for a loan, where I’d been banking for MANY years, despite not really having the right credit history, the manager approved my loan. He knew I would be good for the loan. Today that seldom happens as you can’t get past the system-based rules to a person who will take the time to review your history and the situation.

But wait….perhaps social networking aids….true collaborative aids may be playing a role today and bringing back a person who will be your advocate.

Two days ago, I got a letter from American Express telling me that I’ve been put in the penalty box for missing a payment (heavy duty charges, a year's worth of onerous interest), a situation that immediate raised my ire and made me want to cancel my Amex card. Now, since I pay my bills in full, the onerous penalty wouldn’t apply, but there was a principle here for me. As a member in good standing since 1973, I was hurt. Particularly since I never got a bill!

I blasted my ire on Twitter and copied @AmericanExpress.

I received two kinds of responses: 1) lots of people saying similar things had happened to them and how they had handled it. 2) #AmericanExpress on Twitter encouraged me to #AskAmex. I did, and through the afternoon worked with one of their Social Media Inquiry people. (Yes, PEOPLE. American Express has a team on Twitter assigned to address issues for its customers.) If you look at #AskAmex, you will see the bio of the team: Now tweeting, Beth (B), Nadir (N) and Rachel (R) from 9AM-5:30PM ET M-F. When we’re not tweeting we enjoy cooking, football and spending time with family. Through DM, I was guided by them to go to my online account and send an inquiry with “my facts.” I did, and within a short time, I received the kind of letter that someone with a 35+ year good history with American Express feels she deserves. It started with: Thanks for taking the time to contact me via email. I can definitely understand how frustrated you would be with this situation. I have reviewed your account and have taken care of everything. It ended with: It was my pleasure to assist you. Have a happy and a healthy new year!

A real person handled this situation in a compassionate and expeditious manner! Wow….that sure doesn’t happen when one tries to get through phone menu hell. Not that I’ve had to contact American Express…perhaps its phone services are equally good, but I’ve had the occasional mishap with mobile services and have lost a credit card or two over the past 40 years, to be totally frustrated by the process of remedying the issues with the respective providers.

So, thank you American Express. And, especially thank you to the Social Media Inquiry group at AskAmex. And, I’m totally stoked on the power of social media! For me, it has returned me to the good old days of PEOPLE who support you when stuff happens. I feel like the group is my friend!

1 comment:

Amy Wilson said...

Great story Lexy! Thanks for sharing!