social media and customer service

How Liking Teavana almost Made me Single

By Social Media

The day I clicked “like” on the Facebook page for Teavana was the day my husband told me he was leaving me. 

Ardent, passionate Teavana drinkers for years, my spouse had recently had a falling out with the company, so the timing of my endorsement could not have been worse. Our favorite tea of all time is the Earl Grey Creme. The company had changed the blend with a noticeable difference in taste. Annoyed, my other half went straight to the company’s website and left a comment.

Interestingly, the comment never showed up. Is Teavana moderating out comments it doesn’t like? The incident caused me to investigate the company’s use of its website and social platforms.

The brand seems to be getting the social piece only half right — allowing its community to comment on the website is great, (if comments are displayed) but there doesn’t appear to be any interaction. No questions are answered by the brand. On Twitter customer service is active; on Facebook, the conversation is updated frequently by someone posting on behalf of the company. Why not manage the website the same way?

So, to stay married, we’re switching to another tea company, unless Teavana can save the day.

The 6 Most Annoying Mistakes Made in Social Media

By Social Media

This is a list of six mistakes I find people and businesses making social media on a regular basis. I’ll bet you have more, so let’s keep this list going as a cautionary document for those new to engagement online.

  1. The blog that died. In 2009 the New York Times estimated that 95 percent of blogs have been abandoned. That’s sad, especially because businesses that are blogging or individuals who blog as a way to increase business are probably still churning out content in the form of advertising, marketing materials or news releases. A blog that hasn’t been updated in months is a death knell for a company.
  2. The Twitter account with no biographical information. You’re who? You do what? Even worse are the accounts with no image. Let us see your face!
  3. The blog that doesn’t allow comments. In my opinion, if it’s not a two-way conversation, it is not a blog.
  4. The automated follow, reply or repost. See Automation Sucks.
  5. The rolling tumbleweed, the sound of crickets; that is, the lack of response when someone is contacted via Twitter, Facebook, online form or e-mail. Be responsive.
  6. The unattended LinkedIn profile. Business people have a responsibility to be aware what they look like online. Completing a LinkedIn profile has to be one of the easiest steps in social networking. It’s important, because it’s searchable and represents you as a business person online. Get it up-to-date today.

Your turn! What social media/networking mistakes are like nails on a chalkboard for you?

Entitlement and the Culture of Social Media

By Social Media

I’d like to tell you that social media is all about butterflies and rainbows but you probably already know that’s not true.

A great feature of social media has been the advocacy action – the grassroots community building initiatives that have toppled the bad and uplifted the good.

Stories of these incidents are of a sort that (wait for it) go viral.

It’s become a custom amongst the social media set, when confrunted with truly terrible customer service to Tweet, post on Facebook and publish blog content chronicling dastardly customer service deeds.


It’s true; we have come to expect that businesses — particularly larger brands, are at least listening online. We hope (and I believe, have a right to expect) that brands are responding to their own accounts. If you’re contacting a brand to complain on the brand’s Facebook page or with an @ reply message on Twitter, they should contact you to see how they can help.


I’m concerned about this — I’m concerned that maybe we’re an overly entitled generation, demanding superior customer service not just from big brands but all the way down to small Mom and Pop shops that may not have the resources to respond to all vehicles of  communication.

Now, should these companies be setting up Twitter accounts or Facebook pages if they’re just going to ignore or abandon them? Should they have an 800 number if no one is ever going to answer it? Probably not.

What do you think? Have customer satisfaction stories in which social media plays a role made us more demanding? Is that fair?

Six Ways to Change the Conversation Using Social Media

By Social Media

As part of the social media presentation I gave to a nonprofit organization recently, I said: “prepare for the negative.”

It’s a good line; it gets attention and more importantly it encourages thought and preparation before engaging in social media. Whether you’re a small company, a large for-profit entity, a nonprofit or an individual practitioner you need to prepare for the negative and decide what you’re going to do about it when it happens.

Where there’s something to criticize, there will be a critic. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to have critics; valid feedback and constructive criticism can help you make your service and your business better. As an example, see how Domino’s Pizza has used customer feedback in a constructive way to improve their business.

“You can either use negative comments to get you down or you can use them to excite you and energize your process.” — Patrick Doyle, President, Domino’s Pizza.

Here are six ways you can take back lost business by changing the conversation:

1. Listen and respond. Learn what’s being said about your business by using social media monitoring tools, customer surveys, secret shops and focus groups. Find out what the negative is so you can develop a plan to address it.

2. Allow visibility. It’s a huge leap from where we were as a culture in using public relations and the dreaded “spin” to allowing the public to see your downfalls, your weaknesses and mistakes. It is critical to the current culture of customer service that you allow comments on your blog, that you allow customers to interact with you in the places they are online (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)

3. Reward feedback by thanking those who provide it and include them in the conversation of how you can make your service or your products better.

4. Respond to everything – let the public know you’re listening — we often find that people are more polite when they know you’re in the room.

5. Be accessible. Make sure you’re actually available on the social networks you’ve set up — if you have a Twitter account, you must be managing it.  Provide your phone number and answer the phone! Provide an e-mail address or a contact form and make sure you’re following up.

6. Share the story of how you took a negative conversation and turned it around. Did you get a bad score on a customer service survey? What did you do to improve? Share the differences with your audiences and they will respect you for making the honest effort.