SOCIETY TALK

Customer service is king on social media

The last thing any business wants is a trending hashtag that says boycott

In Summary

• Social media has become an integral part of our interaction with companies

People holding mobile phones are silhouetted against a backdrop projected with the Twitter logo
People holding mobile phones are silhouetted against a backdrop projected with the Twitter logo
Image: FILE

My mother asked me to go with her to Kenya Power offices to sort out an issue we have been having. “Why? I can have it all sorted out on Twitter,” I replied. I knew social media has become an integral part of our daily lives, but somehow, I had forgotten how overly dependent we are on it. So much so that dealing with actual humans behind a desk is a dreaded nightmare.

Not to be exceedingly overconfident, but I would argue that some of the best customer service we receive in the country right now is through social media. You want your electricity issues sorted, tweet Kenya Power. If you have issues with an airline, post your grievances and watch other hundreds of people commenting that they went through the same. I realised the last thing any business wants is a trending hashtag that says boycott.

The convenience of having our problems solved in 280 characters or less has crept up on us, subduing us with comfort. Companies have realised that to them, social media can do more damage than good. That is why they take customer complaints on social media very seriously. Power resides with the masses; consumers have redefined standard customer services expected from corporations.

In Kenya, the customer service experienced on social media is drastically different from what one can expect in real life. There is certainly a level of accountability and reliability that happens on social media. So much so that trust between consumers and the corporations has increased. A good example of a favoured government department in Kenya currently (according to social media use) would be the Meteorological department.

In light of the drastic changing weather pattern we have been experiencing in the country, more and more Kenyans have been relying on the Twitter handle of the Meteorological department. In fact, if an informal vote were to take place now on the most efficient government office, I believe the Met Department would win easily.

The Met Department, Twitter handle (@MeteoKenya), has been incredibly reliable and a most used source of weather predictions by Kenyans all over. They post updates on the upcoming weather conditions and they provide warnings in advance to ensure that Kenyans are not caught off guard. Thanks to the Met Department, we can now plan washing days in advance. Somehow, because of the reliability of the weather updates, we are able to plan ourselves around the predicted weather patterns. The Met Department is also quick to thwart rumours with facts. They also use satellite imagery alongside scientific facts to educate us on the changing weather patterns.

One Twitter user, @BonNalugala, caught the attention of the Met Department by commenting “Tangu muache....’manyunyu za hapa pale.... Ngurumo za radi...’ You are simply the best. Why has Met Department not been rated the most transformed govt department?”

Social media has redefined what customer service is. The consumer has a voice. A resonated voice on social media can threaten even the most successful of corporations, which is why they ensure that a consumer’s troubles are addressed on social media. If only they applied the same type of customer service efficiency in person.