After careful review and assurances by the customer service representative on the other end of the line, I agreed to sign up for Vonage’s VOIP phone service that could be used through a USB flash drive. Having a been a customer for over a year of their standard home based service, I thought this would be a great way to make phone calls on the go through any available computer. The support person assured me that I could pay for the flash drive and keep a single phone number with a single monthly phone bill. Instead, Vonage not only charged for $50 for the flash drive but also charged for around $30 for a new line fee and started billing me for two lines of service. Many attempts to correct the situation resulted in more frustration of being caught in foreign call center hell and corporate bureaucracy. I later canceled my service completely.
Big Ear – developing a keen awareness of your business by listening to social media and online customer thought streams
Several years ago I had no outlet to expose the all too common David versus Goliath battle between customer and large company. Today the tables are turning has social media and, to a lesser extent, consumer interest websites are letting the little guy find a voice to be reckoned. Yelp allows restaurant goers to instantly rate their experience with their smartphone to some owners chagrin while others embrace the change. Search Twitter for any business to get a pulse on what customers are saying about their experiences with products, practices, and company personnel. The collective million voices can either propel a business to new heights or just as quickly thrust them to the depths of obscurity. The difference is in the hands of the critiqued.
Companies are deaf. Most understand the need to listen to their customers but are simply using dated methods and tools. Market research, customer surveys, self addressed direct mailers, secret shoppers, and more, are filtered methods of gauging a customer’s response. Monitoring social media platforms and online customer opinion sites is a direct view into the customer’s mind. The sheer volume and cost of acquisition trumps all of the old methods, giving companies a Big Ear to listen to their customers. (Download the Top 10 Reasons to Listen from Radian6)
As for Vonage, karmic retribution in the form of competition from cable company’s VOIP services , Skype, and several lawsuits have all but put Vonage out of its misery. Lesson learned.