Customer service goes social

I’m going start this blog as a customer. I jumped on the ASOS sale as soon as I heard about it on Facebook. Brownie points for the ASOS Social Team for giving me a heads up.

Next, I discovered that next day delivery had been taken off the table, not that they’ve told anyone about this or put it on their website – I had tweet the the ASOS Social Team to find out. Bye bye brownie points.

And then, the worst part. My order was delivered… but not to me. I emailed, no reply. So I turned to Twitter and hey presto the ASOS Social Team is on the case. Four hours and an empty promise later, I was told that they’d re-send my order and refund any of the juicy sale items that were no longer available. Cue my signature ‘rage’ issue.

The thing is, no one can pull off an adequate apology in 140 character. You have to cut out the fluff and that’s usually the thing that calms you down. It took four tweets to explain what had happened and a further eight to try to make it up to me. But to be honest, all their tweeting didn’t make a blind bit of difference, in fact, it felt kind of rehearsed.

That’s the thing about social media. You have to be react to situations and that means having a plan of action, in place, ready to use. So when they sent me that 10% discount to make up for it, well, aside being nothing in comparison to the bargains I’d found (and lost) in the sale, it just felt a bit corporate.

ASOS have obviously put a lot of time, money and effort into their Social Team but by being so good, they raise expectations and when a real problem arises, they could do real damage to customer relationships.

So the question is – should businesses mix social networking with customer service? Right now, I’m thinking no. I mean, the odd question, here and there – fine, it’s nice to get an instant response. But real problems, the kind you know will take more than 140 characters to fix – take an email address, spend a bit of time on your response and make sure your apology meets the customers expectations.


  1. @purplesime

    Spot on post. I had a similar problem with Virgin Media. The phone crew were hopeless (in fact suggested it was my fault when it was clearly the company’s fault) and so I turned to Twitter to let off steam. Someone sent me an @reply within minutes. After a couple of exchanges they asked for my email address. I DM’d them.

    What followed was a well-thought out, carefully constructed and apologetic email. I replied and they, again, answered my complaints in a very personable way.

    I sent a complaint email and hard copy letter to the company, praising their social media team. Never even got a reply. Still waiting 6 months on, even though a very senior manager called to say it would be dealt with.

    Sadly, this means that while the social team did a great job of keeping me as a customer, the rest of the organisation lets them down.

    Here’s hoping ASOS compensate you for their mess and you’re able to append this post with a positive update.

  2. Some companies are completely switched on to Twitter, like @vodafone for example. They have assisted me on many occasions when their phonelines are busy.

    You’re right that the big problems often require more, but for small issues or simple questions, I don’t think there is any excuse for ANY large business to have a presence on Twitter :)

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