If you doubt that social media has already become an indispensable tool for communication and customer care here in Kenya, Safaricom’s recent activities on twitter should convince you otherwise especially as a business owner… Their official twitter account is @SafaricomLtd.
Customer care is where most companies get it wrong. Twitter and the various social networks is where aggrieved Kenyans take their complaints. The public timeline where these complaints appear and get played out, and SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages) where their impact is seen and felt is what you need to worry about. Consequently, these social networks are the places to be. This will enable you to listen better, respond, mitigate potentially explosive situations and win over people. Customer care is about finding where people are already talking about you and responding to them there, at their convenience. Social Media is therefore the place to be given the number of Kenyans on social networks today.
So what does customer care in social media networks entail? Allow me to elaborate using Safaricom and their twitter presence.
First, Safaricom does not boast the biggest following on twitter with just under 1000 followers. I however expect this number to rise exponentially as more and more Kenyans discover Safaricom is on twitter or join twitter and use it as much as they do Facebook. That said, even with their modest following on twitter, they have recognized it as a place where Kenyans are actively participating and they have now made it very convenient for Kenyans on Twitter to circumvent the annoying customer care calls and still get their issues resolved.
Just from a glance of its Twitter wall, you will see that Safaricom is using Twitter in the following ways.
By design, twitter lends itself to customer care use by companies. When Safaricom first got on Twitter, this was the development I expected to see and I am positively surprised to see how well they have taken to it. Like most companies on twitter, they started with pushing content out but soon enough, demands and requests by Kenyans on twitter forced a change in strategy to that of customer care. Most people hate calling customer care because of how long it takes to get through among other dreaded customer care encounters. Twitter has now emerged as the preferred platform for Kenyans on Twitter to seek customer care assistance from Safaricom. How? Well, the following are examples of tweets people send to Safaricom?
FayBabyN @SafaricomLtd Im talking about the 8Mb 10sh offer. Ive even tried subscribing again to no avail. And have the charges increased?
Lungati @SafaricomLtd Getting through to customer care is my main issue.. I had an urgent issue yesterday and i couldn’t get thru after an hour?!
distantspectatr @SafaricomLtd i’m confused about why my supaongea tariff says Ksh3 but *155# says Ksh7 /minute.I get this alot so which one is right?
feelme @SafaricomLtd Got a txt jana asking 4 sum details incl. phy. address. What’s that all about? Why phy. address?
Chiira @SafaricomLTD How much more waiting can a man take? A week is too long. Please have the BlackBerry APN sorted out before day end.
These are cases of people needing various issues sorted out and who have turned to Safaricom via twitter for help. The reason they are using twitter is because it is the most convenient platform for them to use. In response, Safaricom sends tweets such as these…
SafaricomLtd @Lungati Hi Samuel, We apologize for the inconvenience caused, please DM us your number and problem you are facing. Thanks!
SafaricomLtd @Kimash007 Appreciate your feedback, pls let us know the know your exact location or where you have experienced difficulty. However, (cont.)
SafaricomLtd @HendrikaW Please give us the number which you are trying to call from so we can check what the issue is
SafaricomLtd @kmbuto Hey! this is a permanent product, you may use it whenever you want. All you have to do is -> Dial *544# to subscribe.
This is one of the more important reasons why businesses need to be present in social media networks. A bad reputation spreads like wildfire in social media, ask KPLC. If you are not present to mitigate it, it may be too late especially with the sharing aspect of twitter. In the case of Safaricom, not everybody who contacts them via twitter is happy or civil for that matter. People may really be disappointed with their service or pricing or lack of access to their customer care and they may rant about this on twitter. And depending on how you handle them, you may either have a PR crisis on your hands or a great customer care story if you can turn it. Some of the tweets of this nature include:
There are occasions where companies do us wrong, again, ask KPLC as they have perfected the art. Based on our past experiences with the company and/or our personalities, we will pass our judgments in these social networks either mildly with measured tones or outrageously with censored words. For companies, this presents a tricky encounter because whereas the problem might be a simple one, how people present it and given their influence in these social networks, they might create a whirlwind of problems for you – just ask Kenya Data Networks. Also, when and how you respond to any accusations raised against you will determine how well your things will turn out. If an issue is raised, check it and then respond. Engaging in a pissing contest is never the best way to go and it seems the people at Safaricom have nailed it on the head given their responses…
While the above represent potentially explosive issues if they are not resolved, consumer feedback is people telling you things about you both good and bad which enable you to understand consumer sentiment. For Safaricom, there is a lot of sentiment that is directed their way and quite a number of them are absolutely absurd while the rest are genuine and weighty sentiment worth taking note of.
Of course Safaricom have a lot of discretion in choosing what to listen to and I know they must appreciate some feedback more than other for instance the massive fail on their innovation board. That is not a light issue. But whichever the case, acknowledging the feedback goes a long way even when the feedback is absurd like the Kura Pap suggestions. Responding to feedback show people that you are listening and sometimes that is all we need to know, that you are listening. And the truth is, if the issue is weighty and you don’t respond to it; understand that people will call you out, harshly. That is the reason you will find response tweets of the following nature on the Safaricom wall….
@magicalnoob We appreciate the feedback, we are in the process of revamping the page
@roomthinker We are reviewing how we engage on our innovation forum and that is why we want people who have shown ICT leadership on board
@sideword Appreciate your suggestion, Thanks!
@HendrikaW Thank you for the feedback, much appreciated
@Reumac Appreciate this!!, happy to have you back… 🙂
I am not sure thought that Safaricom are listening to tweets beyond the @safaricomltd that directly show up on their public timeline. There are many Kenyans on Twitter who use Safaricom or #Safaricom in their tweets because they have no idea Safaricom is on Twitter. Safaricom needs to listen and where necessary respond to those tweets too because they are addressing them as well.
Sometimes, people just need info or clarification and send an inquiry tweet seeking insight or clarification. There are many of those tweets for instance.
iamterence @SafaricomLtd When one buys the Nokia E63 at your retail centres they don’t get A memory card and the package says that it comes with one?
jambaziSugu @SafaricomLtd are you guys planning to roll out 4G anytime soon? Just a thought.
feelme @SafaricomLtd Got a txt jana asking 4 sum details incl. phy. address. What’s that all about? Why phy. address?
Safaricom people have done a good job of replying to a majority of these.
@iamterencePlease give us details of which Safaricom Shop and date of purchase as well as a number which we can reach you for more details
@jambaziSugu We are keen to introduce 4G subject to regulator go ahead
@kmbuto Hey! this is a permanent product, you may use it whenever you want. All you have to do is -> Dial *544# to subscribe.
Kimash007 @SafaricomLtd thanks again for replying. The place is Juja where JKUAT main campus is located… thanks again.
@feelme This is for the Sim Registration process, we need to update these details to complete the process
@FayBabyN We are looking into your issue, we will keep you posted
Just by responding to people’s inquiries, you leave very satisfied customers and this leads me to the next topic…
The beauty of this is that it is on a public timeline where people can see whether you are resolving issues or not and if you are, you get people giving you just as public praises which consolidate your customer care credentials. When you have people appreciating your help and praising you, you are doing something right. And making a tech savvy crowd happy goes a long way today…
kmbuto @SafaricomLtd That’s great, thank you.
rosesinboots @SafaricomLtd is on twitter?! I’m impressed….
SafaricomLtd 🙂 RT @jusblackman Now I’m back online thanks to George at @SafaricomLtd Customer Care who has fixed my modem problems & in record time too!
Reumac RT @SafaricomLtd: @Reumac Appreciate this!!, happy to have you back… 🙂 <- Thanks for welcoming me back.
One thing I must mention is the Legal Liability issue that may arise as a result of social media. The reason you do not let interns run your social media initiatives is that they may open you up to legal problems by making careless statements. This is also the reason the legal department must be included in the social media strategy development. In the case of Safaricom, I saw a couple of tweets where, having understood the above – Safaricom tried as much as possible to clarify a point and therefore absolve themselves in case of a legal reproach from the named parties. These comments were over three different tweets which I compress into one here for easy flow…
SafaricomLtd @roomthinker Dear Roomthinker, this is to clarify that we did not say that it is Cellulan or Virtual Mobile or any other specific PRS that sent the SPAM messages. All we said is that it came from our of the PRSs, who have an existing database of customers. These two were examples of some of the existing PRSs. I hope this clarifies.
From this response, you will notice that if the impression which had been created that it is Cellulant or Virtual Mobile that were spamming people was left to stand without clarification, the mentioned companies might have a case and may taken a legal recourse against Safaricom or worse.
In the end, what wins people over in social media is being helpful. From the tweets that are crowding the Safaricom wall, Safaricom is being as helpful as possible and therefore giving value to people. This is one more reason why people will find it hard to leave Safaricom elaborated by this tweet to sent by one tweep to another who had tweeted he was leaving Safaricom for Orange.
You know you have done a good job in social media when your followers do your work for you.
I expect to see Safaricom employing an army of people to handle their twitter account because soon enough as more and more Kenyans join twitter or discover Safaricom’s presence on twitter, the amount of tweets streaming their way will rival the calls to their customer care and hence require teams of people to respond adequately. As things stand though, Safaricom are trailblazing on this end leaving their competitors kwa mataa.
For other Kenyan businesses, if you can get on Twitter and just be helpful, you will see the benefits of social media accrue to your business.