Wednesday, September 9, 2009

True Tales from The Twitterverse-Where did VZ Go?

In my last post, I shared, with some trepidation but more excitement, that Verizon had initiated a digital conversation with me via Twitter after an unfortunate phone-based customer service experience that I was reporting live. I've re-told this story a number of times in various environments over the last couple of weeks and have been hopeful that I would be able to report that a successful expansion of this digital dance between my internet/wireless/landline/ provider and myself. A brief re-cap:

I called the dreaded 800 number after discovering that my electronic VZ payment had not posted and I had inadvertently double-paid. I got lost and transferred and scared in customer service phone-land and began Tweeting the hold time, multiple transfers, and mounting frustration. The next day, VZ began following me on Twitter and we began "chatting".

Since our initial "introduction" Verizon and I have exchanged a couple of DM's and my ego was massaged by the following message and the fact that a Verizon FIOS technician began following me (we don't have FIOS in our little burg and I desperately want it!):

VZHelpNetworkThank you for your interest in our site. Please look at @Verizon as our SMN Strategy evolves.6:04 AM Sep 4th

Now, I'm in post-third-date-no-phone-call mode…..I know that I am one of millions served by Verizon, but I really thought we had some sparks. As Verizon is in trial-mode for their Twitter Help service, I assumed that they would be as excited about my willingness to openly and passionately share my thoughts and ideas with them. Big Sigh; lessons in humility learned; opportunity to re-affirm some basic Social Media and Networking principles for clients that I coach:

JOIN: In order to participate in a digital dialogue, you have to join the conversation. Verizon is clearly testing the conversational waters and I applaud their efforts here. Be present in the same conversational forums as your clients, prospects, and competitors.

INTRODUCE: Don't just wear the proverbial digital nametag; share some basic information about yourself beyond your name. Verizon "told" me why they were on Twitter and reaching out to me; all of us should do the same as we are reaching out to our various digital audiences.

OFFER: Bring some current news, updates, helpful suggestions, CONTENT to the party. As I have been following @VZHelpNetwork over the last couple of weeks, I can't help but notice that most of their Tweets begin with "I'm sorry you're having some trouble." It would be nice to see some links to other Verizon resources, suggestions, solutions that could inform and educate us all. I have also repeated ad nauseum in the past that if you are going to publicly dialogue with others in these applications, at least let the rest of us in on the nature of the conversation! Don't be exclusionary; use this as the opportunity to demonstrate your true helpfulness!

EXPAND: I have been suggesting to clients that they look at the networks of people that they follow or to whom they are connected for ways of expanding their audiences, prospects, clients, etc. It stands to reason that the friends, family and colleagues that are following me could very well be Verizon clients! What an opportunity for Verizon Help to turn not only me, but a host of my connections into positive testimonials for them!

LISTEN: I know, based on this experience that Verizon has begun to experience some digital ear burning, but are they just hearing the commentary of their customers or are they really listening. Some time back, I wrote about the difference between "hearing" and "listening" in the digital B2B conversation. I think that if we are going to commit to providing service via social media and networking, we really need to fine tune our "hearing" acuity and respond specifically rather than generically to questions that are posed. I don't think that we have to create specific and distinct messages for each digital dialogue, but I do think we need to do more than just acknowledge the questions of our clients and provide "templatized" responses. To the extent that our resources allow, truly individualized our response in digital conversation goes along way toward the longevity of the customer satisfaction.

I developed a somewhat tongue-in-cheek Digital Conversation Scoring System for a client as a way to relate my belief that a digital conversation should emulate as much as possible our Face-to-Face interactions:

Lisa's Digital Conversation Scoring System

  • I would walk across hot coals to engage you in a chat again!

  • I would chat with you at some length and then ask our friends to join us!

  • I would re-introduce myself, ask you how you have been, inquire about any new events, and either continue or excuse myself depending upon your response.

  • I would wait until you approached me to engage with you.

  • I would hide in the women's restroom or walk down a different aisle at the grocery store to avoid a conversation.

  • I don't know you, have never been introduced to you, and I don't know anybody who knows you so I can't have a conversation with you, although I might listen to you if I am trapped and need a cure for my insomnia.

Today, Verizon is at a three, because I do applaud their efforts and am curious about the evolution of their Twitter Trial.

Stay-tuned and as always, my warmest regards,

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