June 25, 2008
The following is an interview I conducted with Frank Eliason, Customer Service Manager for Comcast at their Corporate Headquarters. A few months ago Frank created an account on Twitter called @comcastcares. Over a short amount of time he has become a popular destination to have problems solved and questions about Comcast answered quickly. This is a true success story of how companies can embrace social media and micro-blogging to interact with their customers.
There have been several success stories from Frank’s Twitter usage like:
- Bryan Pearson had a late payment billing issue resolved.
- Scott Stead had a neighborhood outage repaired.
- Joel Houssman got a call from Comcast headquarters to be sure his cable problems were fixed.
D: Who are you and what do you do?
F: I am a Customer Service Manager for Comcast at our Corporate Headquarters.
D: How did @comcastcares come about?
F: Back in September we started reaching out on some blogs and forums. It was minor, and really in our spare time. As we were doing this, we started to see positive feedback. This caused us to do it more. Now we have a 8 people helping. As this outreach began to get noticed, @ComcastScott encouraged us to check out Twitter. That was in February. We watched for a while, usually reaching out to some people via phone. In early April we reached out to Michael Arrington from TechCrunch. Afterwards, he posted a blog about how Comcast was monitoring Twitter. What was interesting is in the comments some people stated that we only reached out because he was Michael Arrington. Well then many others started commenting back that we reached out to them too. The cat was now out of the bag, so we decided to engage on Twitter. We started posting the very next day using the ID we signed up for in February.
D: What social media (ie. blogging, podcasting, micro-blogging, social bookmarking, etc.) are you using to engage your clients and promote Comcast?
F: We reach out in blogs, micro blogs, forums and other sites we find through various search techniques. We really are not trying to promote Comcast. I am a Customer Service person, and my goal is to help, nothing more. I am not a PR person or marketer. It sometimes comes across that way, because we are creating a positive image.
D: Which social media do you find to be most effective?
F: Twitter has been amazing because of the ability to build friendships. These new friends then begin to help spread the word through blogs or responding to others that comment about Comcast.
D: How are you measuring your success from new media marketing?
F: We are not measuring success, we are gathering feedback and helping Customers. We do track some of the people we help, as well as most of the topics we see to help improve the Customer experience at Comcast.
D: Are you cautious about allowing your customers to post about your company? How do you handle criticism online?
F: People are going to post good, bad and ugly about any Company. The difference is we are there to help if they need assistance. Sometimes we may provide more information so they can better understand.
D: What is one piece of advice for a traditional marketing company trying to embrace Web 2.0?
F: Comments on the web are not going to go away, in fact they are they permanently there (search cache or on the server). Instead of ignoring it is best to get involved. I would also recommend that it is important to understand the language and culture. For example on Twitter, just marketing or selling does not earn respect. Get involved and be personal.
D: Thanks Frank.
I’ll have my next Communication 2.0 interview next Wednesday with Shannon Ferguson, an Advertising Specialist and Social Media Team member for Southwest Airlines. Subscribe for free to my blog by clicking this link and you’ll be alerted instantly when that interview has been posted to my blog. Thanks.