Comcast's social media outreach doesn't stop with Twitter, though. The company also reaches out to people who complain at blogs, in forums, and anywhere else the word "Comcast" comes up online. There is some proof that this initiative has netted results at a blog that rose to fame by airing the frustrations of Comcast customers: ComcastMustDie.com. It reads in what appears to be an exit letter, "ComcastMustDie.com will be changing. This is partly because we have declared victory against Comcast, a vast, greedy, blundering, tone-deaf corporate colossus which, in one short year, has seen the light. Now it is now merely a vast, greedy, blundering corporate colossus. But tone deaf no more."
The trick to dealing with a blog about how bad your bad service is, apparently, to turn that blog into a forum for helping customers. Comcast reacted to ComcastMustDie.com by responding directly to people who complained there and getting their issues fixed. That works. The site's author, Bob Garfied, says in his exit letter that Comcast "Used ComcastMustDie to specifically resolve many hundreds of customer complaints. There is a long way for Comcast to go, but there is also no question that it has been forced by us to reckon with us."
The public nature of that form of social media then proved very effective -- for both corporation and consumer. Twitter, though, is a slightly different animal.
"Social media is about relationships," says Eliason. "And Twitter in particular is a personal space." When he started out using Twitter, he began by creating a corporate identity for Comcast but quickly realized that "corporate" didn't suit the environment. So he instead encouraged his staff to create their own identities and build their own relationships there. He lists all of the people providing Twitter support at his Twitter page.
Delivering support this way is very different, he says, from most other means. It is also different from the way most companies like to interact with the world. "You have to be yourself in many ways. You have to be very genuine. If you put a spin on things, it simply is not going to work on Twitter." If you are personal about it, though, then you can build the relationships that are at the center of this new model of customer relationships.
"That is a difficult concept for businesses," he says. Letting individual people go out and be themselves without a script or a uniform and yet still be the face of the company is a hard idea for the corporate mentality to swallow. "This is all new," says Eliason. "But I let my people alone when they are out there on Twitter. I want them to be themselves."
For all its benefits, though, Twitter -- or any other form of social media -- is not replacing traditional means of support for Comcast. In fact, Eliason says that for most things, the usual channels are still the way to go. "But feel free to reach out to me via Twitter," he says. "I love talking to people there."
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