The Power of Social Media

InternetThere are some posts that I write after taking notes, researching, interviewing and basically, spending hours so you have good content to read. This one is different. This one is my personal experience with the horror that is Verizon Frontier FiOS, my Twitter rant, BrightHouse Charter Networks reading the rant and coming to the rescue. This is my experience in moving from Frontier to Charter, complete via Twitter and with NOTHING lacking in the process.

It all started about two weeks ago after YEARS of excellent service from Verizon came to an ugly end. In the years we were with Verizon we never had so much as a hiccup. Perfect billing, excellent customer support (when you could reach a human). Good speed, and and I cut the fiber cable to my home on accident, they fixed it with a single phone call. But my favorite came when I would switch routers. I needed to get the IP address lease broken so the new router would take. With Verizon, one phone call, no grief and it was done while I was on the phone. Really…it was the perfect system.

So the problem started after I noticed my first bill was more than 2x what my Verizon bill normally was, but before I could get around to calling I had another problem. I needed to install a new VPN router, and needed to have the DHCP address release broken so the new router would take. What did Frontier say? They do not support “3rd party routers” and so, because I don’t want to use their crap Actiontec router, I needed to pay for Premium Tech Support. If that wasn’t enough, then they told me “we need to put in a work order to get this one, and it is telling us FOUR DAYS to complete the work order. OK…rather than blow a gasket I switched back to he Actiontec router until the addresses could be released.

Now, if it was only that easy i might still be a Frontier customer. But alas, it was not that easy because somewhere in the process they managed to completely kill the signal to my house…no Internet. When you work from a home office that is not acceptable. So finally I got fed up and took to Twitter. Did Frontier respond? Not at all. It’s kinda like they didn’t care that I was getting killed by customer service. It didn’t matter to them that I was number 273 in the call pool (no…I am not kidding). But someone did care. BrightHouse Networks cared (let’s be honest…they saw an opportunity) and we began to exchange instant messages via Twitter.

I shared my frustrations with them and said, not really expecting much “how fast can you have someone at my house to run a new cable and have BrightHouse as my provider. I was expecting to be told to call someone on Monday. But not at all. They took my address and said I could have someone sooner than I expected. We arranged the Internet package I wanted and scheduled the install. On install day the tech showed up early and got it done…simply and painlessly. When I had another question for tech support I reached out on Twitter again. Sure enough they were able to answer a technical question on Twitter…no waiting in line. No line, no 276 people in front of me…just me, and the Social Media team at BrightHouse Charter. You see, to this point I thought I was talking to the BrightHouse folks when in reality the Charter merger had gone through and there were no issues. Can you say happy dance?

The only real experience I can say that was possibly good with Frontier was the last guy I talked to who processed my disconnection. You see, Frontier has a real problem in Florida. Their service sucks so much that Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi (who should be the next Governor of Florida) called them to task over the hundreds of complaints. I knew it was bad, but the installer from Charter told me that he was aware of more than one thousand in the small town east of Tampa that I live in who had dumped Frontier. That was only confirmed when I spoke to the guy from Frontier who was completely demoralized. You could hear the defeat in his voice, and I felt bad for him. Between his apologies for the poor experiences I had and my piling it on (gently…it wasn’t his fault) he finally gave up and said “the merger is a process. I hope you’ll consider us if BrightHouse doesn’t work out for you.”

My point in all of this is that the power of Social Media is routinely ignored in my opinion. When you need it though it is transformative in what it can do. Everything I needed was handled through Social Media by a well trained team who was eager to satisfy their customers. They could have passed me off quickly to a call center but they didn’t. Each interaction was very easy and very efficient. How much more could Frontier have benefitted from using Social Media to help their customers rather than just ignoring them? Perhaps my issues could have been resolved by someone who cared. I know Dell’s Social Media Team has been exceptionally beneficial to them and their customers as I was a part of it when I was a Dell employee. Now BrightHouse Charter has a very happy customer who will tell everyone I can about my experience with them. Frontier now has a very dissatisfied ex-customer (who has now blogged about it, which is also going to LinkedIn and Twitter).

Two lessons for everyone.

  1. If you are having trouble with a company and the normal process you need to go through to get service, take it to Social Media. You may well be surprised.
  2. If you are a company that has Customer Service, do not ignore Social Media. Your customers want to talk to you, and they expect you will listen and actually care what they have to say.

I am really sorry that things went the way they did with Frontier. I was a happy customer before the merger…and now I am a happy customer of Charter. Let’s hope it stays that way.

 

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