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Social Media and Customer Experience

Social Media and Customer Experience

Tom Bowser speaks to fellow IWU Alumni

Tom Bowser was recently asked to give a presentation to fellow IWU Alum on Social Media at the Fort Wayne Regional Education and Conference Center. Tom’s focus was on the importance of sharing your story on social media and offered ideas and solutions regarding its use in business today. He developed three main ideas:

  • How social media can have a positive and lasting effect on the customer experience.
  • By utilizing simple tools such as storytelling, songwriting and youtube.com, a single person can make a strong impact – even on a large corporation.
  • How this strong impact can influence and effect customer service policies for the better.

The topic of the presentation ended up being: We All Have a Voice Worth Hearing

He shared the story of Dave Carroll, a talented independent musician who was traveling with his band, The Sons of Maxwell from Halifax Nova Scotia Canada to Nebraska. The United Airlines® flight that he was on made its connection in Chicago’s O’Hare airport, and that’s where Dave’s negative customer experience began. The bands instruments were carelessly thrown about on the tarmac by United baggage handlers, which resulted in damage to Dave’s $3,500 Taylor® Guitar. This incident kicked-off nine months of Dave trying to find some sort of resolution. Tom went on to say what Dave was experiencing during that time (2009) was an attitude of “statistical insignificance.” Which means that the majority of customers receive good service while there is a small percentage that do not. The airlines at that time referred to this small percentage of negative incidents as simply statistically insignificant, which according to Dave (and Tom) is a destructive attitude and one that will not build a trusting and loyal customer base.

The story ended up having a great resolution though as Dave used social media to help make others aware of his story through a music video that he created and posted on YouTube.com. The United Breaks Guitars video instantly went viral, and had over one million views in four days which recounted Dave’s negative customer experience story through a catchy and light hearted song.
After that first music video was posted, United’s stock price dropped 10%, or $180 million in value. Currently there are now over 16 million views (for the first of three United Breaks Guitars videos). Dave’s book titled, “United Breaks Guitars: The Power of One Voice in the Age of Social Media” has since gone on to become a training manual for United Airlines® employees.

According to Tom, there are companies that still use traditional methods and channels to respond to these type of customer service problems. United Airlines® is one example of a company that was not prepared to use social media to respond appropriately. He provided several examples of companies who are effectively using social media to address customer concerns and issues. One such example was Bob Taylor of Taylor® Guitars. After hearing of Dave’s experience, Bob offered online support for guitar repair, as well as making TSA’s policies regarding musical instruments available on his website. As a result, his sales saw a 25% increase for that year. Tom said that good social media strategies include listening, engaging and resolving issues that can result in creating better customer service policies.

Indiana Wesleyan University Alumni Blog had this to say about the presentation:  learn more