Does Your Company Monitor Twitter, FaceBook and Blogs for Customer Complaints? If not, why not?


Last year I told you about a Comcast contract technician who fell asleep in a customer’s home while waiting on hold with the local Comcast office. Using a cell phone camera, the customer’s teenage son shot a video of the repairman sacked out on his couch and posted it on the Internet. The video received more than 1.3 million views on YouTube. The story was discussed on hundreds of blogs and Comcast’s reputation was irretrievably damaged.

Well, I’m back with an update on how Comcast is now impressively responding to complaints posted about their company on the Internet.

Comcast created the position of Digital Detective. I just love the sound of that! Comcast Digital Detectives scan social networking websites looking for ways to help customers who take issues to the web and by doing so, they are aggressively protecting brand credibility.

Here’s how Comcast Digital Detectives are saving the day for customers. Last year a Comcast customer experienced an outage with both her high-speed Internet and phone service. She says it took at least an hour and a half to get through to someone at Comcast and they told her it would be Thursday before a technician could come out. Frustrated, the customer logged on to Twitter from her Blackberry and typed “Damn Internet down in my house. Arrrrrgh. Can’t fix until Thursday. Shoot me.”

A Comcast Digital Detective saw the posting, tracked the customer down, and had the customer’s Internet and phone back up by 5pm that day. How’s that for a comeback? Comcast is surprising and delighting customers like this all day everyday simply by scanning social media for postings about their company.


What is Social Media?

Social media is any media generated by consumers. Its blogs, message boards, product review sites, YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter…the list is ever evolving. Consumers often, but not always, use social media to post complaints about brands.

Companies today cannot sit on the bench when it comes to social media. If you’re serious about keeping your customers, you’re going to have to get involved. Here are 4 steps to get you started.

  1.  “Google” your company name. You need to know what’s being said about your company in the online media world. You’ll be amazed at what you can pull up. From Google you will find the blogs, message boards, product review sites, chat rooms. Google your company name with the word “sucks” behind it – and brace yourself because it may not be pretty.
  2. Perform a Tweetscan to find out what conversations are going on right now on Twitter about your brand. While you’re there, do a quick search on Comcast and Dell to see how proactive these companies are when it comes to getting involved in online conversations with consumers.
  3. Setup a  account TODAY. Don’t dismiss Twitter as social site just for young people. Smart companies are leveraging this free social networking community in a profound way. Comcast, under the username ‘ComcastCares”,  is reaching out to dozens of customers every week on Twitter. Southwest Airlines, JetBlue, Kodak, and Dell are also proactively involved in conversations on Twitter. Not only are these companies fixing problems for customers, but they’re building relationships and keeping customers updated. Go to http://www.Twitter.Com to setup your account.
  4. Assign someone from your company the crucial responsibility of daily monitoring social media. This person will daily monitor Twitter, FaceBook, product review sites, message boards and blogs in general. This is often a good fit for Representatives who handle email or chat discussions for your company.  On the cutting edge, Southwest Airlines has a social media team that includes a Chief Twitter Officer. Additionally, Southwest has a person dedicated to fact-checking online and interacting with bloggers and another who takes charge of the company’s presence on sites such as YouTube, Flickr, and LinkedIn.

We are in an era of the powerful consumer. Consumers are taking matters into their own hands, taking a vengeance against companies for being unresponsive. These powerful consumers refuse to be ignored and in the process they are attracting enormous media attention, influencing consumer buying decisions, and causing significant market damage to companies.

You need to be right there when and where consumers vent their problems online so you can respond in an immediate and personal way. Adopt the 4 steps I presented here and you’ll be on the cutting edge of serving customers through the powerful social media.

Customer Disservice


by my friend Mike Figliuolo

“Thank you for calling XXXXXXX customer service. How may I provide you with excellent customer service today?”

I cringe when I hear those words. Especially before I’ve had my second cup of coffee (that’s the rule – no one is allowed to talk to me until I’ve finished that second cup. It’s ugly if that rule gets broken).

Finish article.

“Johnny the Bagger”

Here’s an  unforgettable true story that I’ve been sharing in some of my customer service workshops lately. 

It’s about a young man with Down Syndrome who changes the culture of a grocery store by being creative and giving the customers more than they expect. This story will grab your heart and get your creative juices flowing on ways to create “customer enthusiasm” in your organization. 

Enjoy the “Johnny the Bagger” video!

The Consumer Vigilante

How to Defuse Aggression and Steer Clear of Danger with Consumer Vigilantes


There’s a certain degree of extremism that’s popping up, a sense of “I’m going to get results, whatever means necessary.”

 Pete Blackshaw

Executive vice-president of Nielsen Online Strategic services.

Last August a 76-year old retired nurse named Mona Shaw walked into a Comcast office with a hammer and smashed a computer keyboard and telephone switchboard to smithereens and then screamed, “Have I got your attention now?” Why? Because, according to Ms. Shaw, Comcast failed to install her service properly.

Mona Shaw has become a media sensation, appearing on the Oprah show, podcasts, and television news broadcasts.  T-shirts with her silhouette holding a hammer with the tagline: “Have I got your attention now?” have been created.

Ms. Shaw’s behavior is the textbook definition of Consumer Vigilante. This is real, very serious and potentially dangerous for those of us serving customers.

Here’s something I bet you didn’t know: on average, 5 retail or service employees are murdered and 4,500 are assaulted on the job by customers each week in the U.S. (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.)

Consumer vigilantes are nothing to play with. Psychologist, Dr. Terry Riley, offers this observation: “Today’s customers are more harried, more demanding, and more dangerous than ever.”

With an apparent trend toward more incidents of vigilantism and rage, “the safety of your employees, your customers, and your company’s assets takes on new, urgent, and challenging dimensions.” (Riley, 2002).I want to help you protect your employees, your customers, and  your assets and in this article I offer 8 tips to help you protect your employees and your assets from today’s consumer vigilante.

There are some proactive approaches you can deploy to intercept an escalation in aggression. These approaches are no magic formula, but they can assist you in keeping the hostile customer from escalating into rage. Following are 8 tactics to help you.

  • Avoid the appearance of a physical challenge. Body language is powerful in any human interaction and especially so with angry or hostile customers. Your body language needs to send the message that you are cooperative and open. The best stance is going to be to the side of the customer. This way, you pose no physical challenge to the customer and you’re also in a less vulnerable position should the customer become violent.
  • Help customers feel they have choices, options and control (Bacal, 1998). It’s very important for customers to feel they have some control over the outcomes of their situation. Give them options and let them make choices, even small ones. Reducing choice and removing privileges tends to encourage aggression.


  • Immediately isolate the customer.  Terry Riley in C.H.A.R.M. School (Lessons in Customer Hostility and Rage Management) gives this advice: “The customer’s increased state of agitation warns of potential violence. If he has not already been isolated, do this immediately. Then make sure that a backup notifies the local law enforcement authority of the situation. If backups are not available, you must alert security or the police. It will probably be necessary to use a coded message to request assistance so as not to further enrage the customer.”
  • Use a calm tone and non-inflammatory words. Deliberately use your voice to create calm. Speak slowly (so that you can think before you speak). Avoid escalating your voice, and never threaten the customer with inflammatory statements like: “If you don’t calm down, I can’t help you.”
  • Strategically deploy “delay” tactics. Robert Bacal, in Defusing Hostility, says “As long as the aggression is not escalating and shows signs of lessoning, there is an advantage to allow a “time-out”. Look for an opportunity to interrupt the escalation process by creating a time out. Asking for further clarification of detail of the issue, for instance, both refocuses the customer on the issue and causes time to pass.
  • Don’t leave the customer. It is best that you don’t walk away from an angry or hostile customer. Your departure may infuriate the customer or leave him feeling abandoned. If you absolutely have to step away, your delays should be brief (no more than 30 seconds). It’s better to call on a co-worker to conduct research/carry out business for you than to walk away.
  • Don’t make the customer feel quarantined. The customer should never be made to feel punished, ignored, or alienated, as these feelings will lead to increased escalation in aggression. 
  • Get help.  If the customer expresses rage on any level, you must immediately get help from a backup, security, etc. Do not attempt to handle an escalated customer by yourself.

Deploy these strategic tactics if ever you are face-to-face with an aggressive customer, and you’ll have a far better chance of defusing aggression and steering clear of danger.

Sources Cited

Bacal, Robert,  Defusin g Hostile Customers: A Self-Structional Workbook for Public Sector Employees by Robert Bacal, Bacal & Associates, Winnipe g , Mb , Canada .

Riley, Terry, Ph.D, C.H.A.R.M. School : Lessons in Customer Hostility and Rage Management, Applied Psychology Press, Santa Cruz , CA, 2002.

News Flash: Customers Want to Talk to Humans


27% of customers surveyed said they’d be willing to pay to speak to a live representative

Consumers in Control Dec 07 Survey

I was shocked when I read a press release last September that announced that Wal-Mart would no longer give customers a toll-free number to call.

We’ve made a significant investment in the enhancement of our online customer “self-help” tool at to better serve our online customers,” said Amy Colella, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman.

Ms. Colella said the customer service ph one number was being removed because “a significant number of calls are related to order tracking,” and the improvements to the website will make tracking easier.

Hmm. I think the jury is still out on this one, but in my opinion, this was not a wise move by Wal-Mart. According to a recent survey by Consumers in Control, 27% of customers surveyed said they’d be willing to pay to speak to a live representative. Customers would actually be willing to pay to speak to a live person! The sad thing is Wal-Mart is not alone. The trend today is to make it almost impossible to find a human.

A few weeks after Wal-Mart axed its toll-free number from, Netflix bucked the trend and eliminated email-based inquiries. 

Today, Netflix prominently displays its 800 number and greets anxious customers with friendly humans.

Not only do real people answer the phones at Netflix, but friendly people answer the phones. The company relocated its call center to Oregon because it believed that people from Oregon are friendlier.

Customers are so frustrated with phone trees and interactive voice response systems, that a movement was created from the voices of millions of consumers who want to be treated with dignity when they contact an enterprise for customer support. That movement led to the creation of GetHuman.Com. It’s an amusing and really quite helpful website. In fact, I’ve used it myself. shows consumers how to reach live humans. For example, I learned from this site that in order to reach a human at American Airlines, I need to dial 800-433-7300, press 0 at each prompt, ignoring messages.

If a website exists for the sole purpose of showing consumers how to get in touch with people, what does that say about customer service today? I think it says we’re grossly out of touch with the needs of customers.

If you want to stand out and WOW customers, it’s really simple: make it easy to talk to real people.

The bottom line: Customers want to talk to real people and they want open access to you through every channel. Make yourself available to customers easily and consistently and you’ll actually surprise and delight your customers.  

Ever have bad service at a restaurant? 

Warning: This short movie is rated R for mild violent content; but it is funny.

8min 41sec



Ever have bad service at a restaurant? 

Well David did and he decided to do something about it. Not what you might expect.

Won for *Best Original Teleplay* -2005 Best of the Northwest, *Best Short* 2006 Mid-Valley Video Festival … Customer Service is a short movie I made a few years ago while I was still attending Southern Oregon University and has been posted before on a pre- “FilmTeller”…