The power of social media to create brand advocates
A guest post from Gina Lofaro – “wordmistress“
An Optus/Twitter case study
Most reading this would be aware of the awesome power of social media. For me, Twitter is my weapon of choice in the war of messages as I find that it abundantly meets my needs in that regard. But the story I really want to tell today is about how Twitter connected me with a massive national company in a very ironic way, since I couldn’t get through to them – a telecommunications company – by phone!
What I learnt from my Twitter interaction with Optus (or, for the purpose of this story, @Optus), was that in order to get the attention of some big companies, all you have to do is mention them in a tweet! I’ve had similar experiences with MYOB and Netregistry but Optus just beats all and I’m here to sing their praises.
The big problem
I had been experiencing big problems trying to have my parents’ phone installed at their new house. Imagine my disgust when I was told that there was a two-week lead time for a BUSINESS phone line! But that’s a story for another time. The point here concerns my inability to contact Optus on the day the phone should’ve been installed because Optus’s own phones were down!! I even rang a local Optus store to ask them to try to get through and they couldn’t either.
The plea for help
In my abject frustration, I tweeted some pretty strong (but civil) remarks! Within seconds – SECONDS, I tell you!
This could be a really long post but I’ll spare you the intricate details of our Optus-related problems. But I can honestly say that I’ve never experienced such follow-through and dedication as I’ve enjoyed with my recent enquiries to Optus. A reply came back from @Optus asking me to click a link and send through my issue. I did that and within an hour received a phone call from Craig at Optus’s social media team. He assured me that he would get to the bottom of it and find out what was going on, AND GET BACK TO ME. And he did!
Over the following three weeks, there were many calls back and forth to the social media team as they became the only Optus ‘person’ or people that I would now bother to try to communicate with. When I say 3 weeks, I don’t mean the problem took that long to resolve. I figured while I was onto a good thing, I’d sort out a heap of other Optus issues I’d been avoiding tackling because it was always just too hard. I sorted out my sons’ mobiles and plans, upgraded mine to an iPhone whilst still under my old contract, streamlined my accounts, organised online log-ins for them all, disputed bills, dobbed in a fraudulent premium text provider, the works! And all the time, I only dealt with three or four different people and began to know them by name.
I was always surprised whenever I saw their number when my phone rang because it continued to amaze me that they would be so vigilant in sorting out my particular issues.
The Optus social media team
For the record, the social media team is a team of 10 Optus employees, all from various backgrounds in the company, and all highly experienced. So you never have someone saying “I don’t know the answer to that”. There’s always an answer, and it’s usually what you need to hear. All the team is articulate, dedicated, sociable and helpful. Their team leader, Nicole is accountable and approachable.
PR or customer service?
I’ve had others comment that this must surely be a marketing or PR ploy on Optus’s part. Who cares?? If I’m a consumer getting what I want from a company with whom I have dealt for years, I don’t care what strategy made it happen!
I must have taken up literally hours of their time (and mine) but the difference has been that it’s all been productive and enjoyable, not hours of sitting there listening to that awful, done-to-death Optus music-on-hold. I don’t care what other companies’ motives are, but @Optus IS everything I’ve said. And from having dealt with telephone companies (and others) in the past and getting absolutely nowhere, I know what I’m talking about. Well, I’m sure we all do. So when you see me (@wordmistressAUS) tweeting about @Optus and extolling their virtues, I mean every word of it.
The creation of a true brand advocate
It’s like that story of the lion with the thorn in its paw. “Just fix my problems and I’ll be your friend for life”, you know? That’s me and @Optus. I’ll hasten to add, I don’t mean the company on the whole. I mean the social media team. They truly rock! And they do it all with a smile.
I’m a pretty committed Optus customer anyway, thanks to their tie-in strategies. I have home internet, mobile, home landline, family mobiles and wi-fi broadband, all with Optus. It’s just been easier that way. And though of course I’m not their highest spending customer, I do expect appreciation and service in return. NOW I have it.
As for Optus’s use of Twitter, any time I need help, I don’t even have to pick up the phone. Seriously. I simply tweet @Optus and what I need, and I guarantee, within less than an hour, my phone will ring and the person on the other end will say: “Hi Gina, it’s Julz from Optus, how can I help?” (or any of the other helpful team members – Ian, Craig, Robbie, Rhys, David ….). They monitor Twitter, Facebook, Whirlpool, Yahoo Answers .. wherever social media exists.
Gina Lofaro aka ‘the wordmistress’ is a social media fan and Internet copywriting specialist. She runs Twitter beginners’ workshops, writes a food blog, owns a retail website and even professes to have a life offline!