I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I first read this but it seems that AT&T is going to try the whole social media idea as a way to try and repair their bruised and battered reputation. They currently have 19 staff manning the social media pipelines as a team effort and are going full bore on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. The company will also be pushing this effort on its bills and websites in an effort to promote conversation with the consumer.
Under the care of Shawn McPike, social media strategist for customer care, it seems that AT&T has been building this team since August 2009 and are now ready to deal with the real thing – angry customer venting on Twitter. Interestingly, and quite smart in my opinion, the reason for the period of time between forming the team and actually putting them to works was so that unlike a lot of companies rushing into it AT&T would be doing it the right way from the start.
To abate the criticism, the care team responds directly to consumers on Twitter who engage @ATTCustomerCare or others on the team with “ATT” prefixes to their handle six days per week. (A program scrapes Twitter for AT&T mentions during off hours so staff can respond when they’re back online but, to compare, Comcast responds to tweets all week.) AT&T also responds to customers on its Facebook wall, while corporate communications chimes in with brand messages and content. Outside of direct customer requests, the team monitors social networks to seek out complaints and, well, AT&T haters.
I somehow don’t think they’ll have much of a problem finding those.
As much as I hope for the company’s sake this works out well for them I think they are going to have one hellva uphill battle. Now if they actually did something to fix the biggest problem their customers have – like an infrastructure that works it would go a long way to making the job of this new team a lot easier.