Ask Andy: using social media to reach customer service

Published: Jul. 30, 2013 at 8:37 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 2, 2013 at 10:00 PM CDT
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(WMC-TV) - You've had it with a company's customer service.

Sure, you could holler on the toll-free hotline.  But try something else first.

Try Twitter.

Find the company's Twitter handle and Tweet it a description of your problem, along with this hashtag: #fail. That's not considered derogatory. #fail is like a flashing beacon to companies with sophisticated Twitter customer service staffs.

Take FedEx, for example. It has an entire customer service network dedicated to FedEx complaints via Twitter. Its folks jump all over FedEx Twitter complaints, including the ones with #fail -- because they know everyone who follows that Tweeter sees it, too!

"Everyone can view it," said FedEx Twitter customer service rep Robin Haskin. "So I'm constantly thinking on how they are going to perceive that."

"(With Twitter and Facebook), now they're public," said Emily Yellin, customer service expert and author of Your Call is (Not That) Important To Us. "It's not just a one-on-one, you versus the customer service agent anymore. People in all parts of the company are starting to recognize when they have a problem."

If that doesn't work, Natalie Petouhoff, a social media consultant and contributor to consumer resource Bottom Line Personal magazine, suggested contacting customer service via live chat. Check the company's web site to see if it accommodates live chat. It's not as attention-getting as a public Tweet, but wait times are shorter than a phone call. You don't have to deal with punching all those buttons, either.

Adam Goldkamp, COO of and another contributor to Bottom Line Personal, said if you must call the toll-free hotline, request a U.S.-based customer service rep. He said it's your right to request someone you can understand -- and companies worth their salt should connect you with someone who speaks your language.

If all else fails, Petouhoff said make a YouTube video of your problem with the company's product or service and post it on your Facebook page. Be stern, be specific -- but be polite.

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