While many companies seem to be understanding how social media works and they are slowly getting better at tracking consumer sentiment and complaints they still seem to fail at responding. Following someone’s bad advice as to how to best respond to the increasing negative feelings within social media and mainstream media, AT&T produced a “Im a PC” style video.
The canned response from AT&T is a PR polished video combining flashy graphics, friendly images and some random guy named Seth the blogger talking about how everything is not really that bad as supported by the random graphs shown in the background. The video also highlights that AT&T is to be credited for enabling the smartphone revolution over the past few years with no supportive facts or recognition of the other network providers.
The first point which Seth the blogger helps explain is that the issues around their current network issues are in fact based on you and 300% the growth in wireless usage each year. Considering falling revenue from other segments of the market would the best way to explain your failing network to provide quality service on customers using it? Is it better than consumers are not using your network?
Each time you use data on your mobile phone plan over your allocated data rate you pay your phone company its a simple enough concept. Looking on a AT&T business rates plans this shows that excess data usage is charged at $0.0048/kb or $5.12/mb which makes for a very profitable business, not something to complain about.
The process where AT&T begin to try and repair their reputation involves first explaining the complexities behind the issue of bandwidth and how more complex it is to deal with MMS. This is another area where they fail down as typically the early adopters who are also the ones making the most complaints have a good grasp around the technology and don’t need a “Dummies guide to mobiles” video. If you are trying to reach your audience using social media you need to tailor your message to your audience, and this is another area where AT&T fail.
The point about this ground breaking technology is that MMS is not a new feature on mobile phones and has been available on GSM/GPRS since MMS was first introduced by Telenor of Norway in March 2002. This was followed by Optus introduced MMS into Australia in July 2002, and mm02 launch in europe in October 2002, so why the big issue for a large telecommunication company like AT&T?
As Gizmodo points out the failure of the MMS is likely due to AT&T Opt-Out codes automatically enabled on all their subscribers accounts, so if this is in fact an internal issue why build a smoke screen around the issue that they need to do more?
So the points to learn from this social media failure is if your are responding to your complaints
- match your message to your audience
- don’t include useless images/graphics
- support your statements with facts
- don’t treat your audience as idiots
- use high profile executives not characters such as “Seth the blogger”
- don’t spend more money on the video than your customer service
- update your website to include new product information you refer to “MMS”