1/5/2011 1:44 PM ET|
Twitter: Credit card problem solver
Most major banks now have customer-support accounts on the site, and they'll respond to complaints quickly to keep social media from damaging their reputations.
Why wait on endless hold to dispute a credit card fee over the phone when you can post your complaint on Twitter and often resolve the problem more quickly and with fewer hassles?
Most major banks in the United States, including Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Citi, have launched customer support accounts on Twitter -- the popular website where people communicate in messages of 140 characters or fewer.
Short though they are, the messages can be helpful. "Customer service is one of the most logical and valuable uses of Twitter," says Christophe Langlois, who tracks the social media use of financial institutions on the website Visible-Banking. Banks and credit card companies use Twitter, he says, to "change brand perception and reduce the volume of inbound calls to their customer-care centers."
Both goals are good for consumers. We all want to reduce those calls, and a corporation concerned about brand perception is motivated to resolve problems faster when they're aired on a public platform. If you're unhappy and make that known on Twitter, it can hurt the company. Likewise, if the company resolves the problem to your satisfaction and you make that known on Twitter, that's instant positive publicity for them. This gives consumers power they didn't have before.
(For those who are unfamiliar with Twitter, the @ symbol indicates a Twitter account, which can be used to both send and direct communications, called tweets. The # symbol, created by Twitter users, marks words or topics within a tweet to make them easier to search; these are known as hashtags.)
A typical interaction
Credit card talk is all over Twitter. Many of those posts -- called tweets -- are from disgruntled cardholders. "When I owe Bank of America money, they can't answer my phone call quick enough," a university research administrator posted on Twitter in November. "When they owe me a few $100, it's 35 minutes on hold so far."
It didn't take long for Bank of America's Twitter team -- which tweets under the user name @BofA_Help -- to find that one. An hour later, @BofA_Help tweeted a response: "I apologize for the experience. If you want someone to call to discuss, send DM with name, ZIP, contact #, accnt type. Thanks." (The tweet was initialed, common protocol with Twitter customer support.)
"After 1 hour on hold and 3 department transfers and 2 minutes of conversation, yes," the customer tweeted back. Next time, this man will likely skip the phone call and go directly to Twitter. It takes about 30 seconds to post a 140-character complaint and responses often come within an hour or two.
"For people active on Twitter, it's almost like instant messaging," says Keri Buster, vice president of corporate communications for American Express, which added dedicated customer service to its Twitter accounts in November 2009 and now has more than 50,000 Twitter followers, more than any other financial institution.
"During a servicing interaction via Twitter, if a customer needs more detailed follow-up through a secure channel, that same customer care professional will stay with them through resolution, without transferring him or her to anyone else."
Most issuers have joined in
Like most major financial institutions, MasterCard has channels on Twitter and Facebook and teams in place to step in quickly when a potentially damaging complaint surfaces. "We've had to expand and monitor all these channels to make sure we appropriately engage when issues arise," says Jim Issokson, a senior business leader responsible for brand reputation at MasterCard.
"There are plenty of examples of companies that have done this badly," he adds. All it takes is a click of the mouse to retweet a complaint. It takes minutes for a tweet to circle the globe, be picked up by bloggers and newswires and potentially cost companies millions in damage control.
For example, in early November, Qantas grounded its entire fleet of Airbuses after a plane lost part of an engine and had to land in Singapore minutes after takeoff. Alarmed passengers tweeted from the airport, triggering a social media firestorm.
"While Airbus did respond, they were slow and didn't monitor the conversations," Issokson says. "It's incumbent on large global brands to engage in these conversations immediately. You ignore them at your own risk. If we see an issue arise online from a consumer, we work to solve that problem, whether directly or with our partners."
However, this form of communication is so new -- and the amount of spam and random chatter so large -- that legitimate inquiries sometimes go unheard. In November, Jennifer Laraway tweeted: "After a decade w/@MasterCard, I'm shopping for a new credit card w/a killer travel reward pts prog. Any suggestions? #visa #amex." Even with all those tags, she received no response.
"Trying to redeem my points was such a hassle that I put the request out for other options," Laraway said in an interview. "It's not a huge deal to me, but it would make all the difference if they reached out. Humanizes the corporate giants, you know?"
Tips for effective tweeting
Langlois says banks and credit card companies are slowly learning to use Twitter effectively, but missed opportunities are still fairly typical. If your first tweet misses the mark, try again.
A few tips for getting problems resolved quickly on Twitter:
- Stay on point: "Even though a Twitter post is 140 characters, you can still be heard," says Buster of American Express. "Be concise and to the point."
- Tag appropriately: Search related Twitter accounts before posting. Want to dispute a charge on your Bank of America American Express card? Adding @AskAmEx and @BofA_Help will get your complaint spotted faster and channeled appropriately.
- Monitor responses: "If you would like an issue resolved quickly, be sure to check Twitter often," Buster says. Twitter monitoring applications such as HootSuite or TweetDeck can make this easier.
- Don't be surprised if you're asked to take it offline: A standard response from Twitter-based customer support is a request for you to "follow" a specific account (AskAmex, etc.) to enable direct messaging (DM). "Please don't be frustrated if we ask to take you to DM," Buster says. "It's intended to secure the privacy of your information."
- Don't overshare: "A key tip for consumers is to be mindful that Twitter is not a secure channel," says Pam Girardo, spokeswoman for Capital One, which introduced a Twitter service handle (another term for user name) last July. "We remind consumers not to post sensitive personal or financial information such as Social Security number, account numbers, etc."
How to find your card issuer on Twitter
Most of the nation's largest credit card issuers and networks can be found on Twitter. Below is a list of Twitter usernames or hashtags that can be used to get in touch with the issuer of your choice.
|Issuer / network||User name and/or hashtag|
|American Express||@AmericanExpress, @AskAmex, @AskAmex_UK, #amex, #americanexpress|
|Bank of America||@BofA_Help, @BofA_News, @bankofamerica (inactive), #BOFA, #bankofamerica|
|Citi||@Citi, @Citi_Forward, @CitiGTS, @CitiCardsCanada, #citi|
|MasterCard||@mastercard, @MasterCardNews, #mastercard|
|Visa||#visa (No official Twitter handle)|
|Wells Fargo||@Ask_WellsFargo, @WellsFargo|
|Other credit card-related hashtags||#credit, #creditcard, #creditcards, #personalfinance, #debit, #giftcards|
This article was reported by Cathleen McCarthy for CreditCards.com.
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Maybe I should have used Twitter. I ended up cancelling my AMERICAN EXPRESS account and they didn’t even try to stop me..…great “customer service”…I was a loyal customer for 28 years. I asked them for help to dispute a charge. They said they couldn’t help……BUT, in truth, AMERICAN EXPRESS didn’t even try…and, I did all the research for them. In fact, the merchant clearly lied and I had proof, but AMERICAN EXPRESS didn’t want to be bothered because the merchant [ALITALIA] was a big client of theirs …NICE.
I don't tweet but it sounds like the idea works so far. I guess I'm pretty lucky; I've never had a problem w/my bank as far as handling problems go. They pretty much stay on top of things.
@great4u-I agree w/you on the phone etiquette. I think people who are rude from the first minute of the call have obviously never worked a customer service job. On the other hand, if people have been on hold for an hour while being transferred to 50 different departments, then of course they have every reason to be pissed. Who wouldn't be?
SELF ENTITLED CRY BABIES THE SEQUEL part 2
Regarding your comments regarding non-Americans and post WWII: glad you brought that up.
I do try to speak with someone who speaks English for 3 very simple reasons: first, when I have gotten to the point of making that phone call, I am already at the point of NEEDING ASSISTANCE. What I do NOT need is a migraine from trying to strain myself from trying to understand what the heck someone with no English communication language skills is trying to communicate to me. Second, WHY should I put myself through the torture of explaining and re-explaining something that I know he/she will never understand/resolve? Third, time is money. I am a very busy person. Why should I waste my time re-explaining and repeating a simple matter to someone who does not know the basics of the language of the United States of America, ENGLISH? If you want a job here in the U.S., LEARN THE LANGUAGE. And this brings me to this- this also irks me about customer service and it should irk you as well since YOU brought up “non-Americans and post WWII”. My parents emigrated from Italy to the U.S. They never had any sense of entitlement- they held down 2 jobs and they learned English. There were no OPTIONS in ITALIAN for THEM. WHY are there options in SPANISH every time I call a customer service number? Please advise and have a very nice day.
Re: Goodtvisrare's comment re asking for an American* rep - I agree, however, you cant do this when sending emails....
I sent AMERICAN* EXPRESS (ironic*) an email regarding cancelling my account regarding this same mess- because they refused to help with me with a dispute. (I think they are afraid of ALITALIA.) I explained that I was extrememly disappointed at how they handled it; I had all the proof that the merchant had LIED (ALITALIA). (and I sent it to them multiple times).
AMEX denied my claim. I further explained that I was also disappointed because I was a customer for 28 years and I had paid well over $5000 in membership fees, plus they had recd thousands in merchant fees from my business over 28 years. I recd 2 robotic responses from
Gaurav Midda and Prateek Maheshwari and without offering me any compensation to make up for the $1500 that ALITALIA OWED ME, THEY CANCELLED MY AMERICAN EXPRESS ACCOUNT. So, to all you "customer service" defenders out there, this was ONE FOR THE BOOKS.
Not only do the banks have people monitoring the twitters, but they also have public relations individuals posing as 'customers' to post fake 'good postings' too.
Be aware of that, they do an interesting job of it. I've notice some sloppy postings of 'cut and paste' on it already. Sort of like a KGB or Nazi process.
Re: Self Entitled Cry Babies The Sequel
Thanks, but I understood perfectly well the first time. But, perhaps you didn’t understand my point. I think that maybe the problem is that the majority of the reps I have dealt with are so sub standard that I have had no choice but to use that as my point of reference. I call and speak with people who do not understand a rather simple issue no matter how many times I explain it and no matter how many times I send in all of the backup paperwork. I cannot possibly type all of the last recent 15+ issues that come to mind, but here is a favorite: Verizon. My daughter went to study abroad. So, I set up an international plan on my landline phone. Verizon made an error and forgot to put it on my account. My daughter started calling me and Verizon CANCELLED my account because they THOUGHT that the calls were suspicious calls. My daughter was frantically trying to reach me but I could not reach her because they CUT my phone service and I could not call overseas from my cell phone. It was a Saturday and the moron- yes, MORON, I was speaking to at Verizon, insisted that the best that she can do is a 48 hour “fix.” (I literally BEGGED her to try to expedite it but she REFUSED with a sarcastic TONE.) THIS nightmare finally did get corrected as far as the phone calls after 48 hours, but the BILLING nightmare continued for over 1 YEAR, as Verizon LOST the initial order request and OVERbilled me for the overseas calls by $800.00. EVERY Verizon rep I spoke to including the reps in the “EXECUTIVE” office, because as some on this board have suggested, we should write to the President and CEO, (yes, I did that, but the Pres and CEO have MORONS who work for them). And so MY point of reference for customer service (and this is just one of many companies) is SUB standard. When these SUB standard people talk DOWN to me as if I DON’T know what I am talking about, and AS if I HAVE done something wrong (Verizon moron told me I should have called a “security number?!), seriously, ONLY A ROBOT would be NICE.
Now regarding the rest of your diatribe about overindulgence and entitlement….and my nickname…you are barking up the wrong tree….First of all, I AGREE with you about overindulgence and entitlement. And regarding my nickname- It has nothing to do with who I am…I used that name once for an old post I wrote a long time ago (because it “fit the post” at that time.) When I logged in to this post yesterday, it recognized my old name. I am not ready to retire. I am just fed up with sub standard service. Sadly, I believe that sub standard service has become the (accepted) norm now and not the exception.
Re the comment by SELF ENTITLED CRY BABIES:
Seems like you did an awful lot of complaining in your post...
The only sentence in your post of any value was when you said customer service is not what it used to be....
What you and most customer service reps today fail to realize is this: They WORK for that company who pays them; therefore, they REPRESENT that company and therefore, they need to TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR what goes wrong when WE/the PAYING CUSTOMERS CALL.
It does NOT matter that THEY did not CREATE the policies, or that they DO NOT OWN the companies, it matters that THEY WORK FOR THE COMPANIES- THEY ARE REPRESENTING THEM - THIS IS THEIR JOB AND THEY ARE BEING PAID TO DO THIS. The politically correct movement you mentioned ALSO created the ME generation where NO one takes RESPONSIBILTY for anything anymore. Customer SERVICE reps NEED TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY and act like they WORK FOR THE COMPANY THEY REPRESENT....BECAUSE, THEY DO!
I do not have a problem with paying a bill or credit card lol I am just trying to get a credit card from CITI - I have a credit score of 731 - I have a good income $3,000+ per month - I have a nice home and pay it on time = to CITI - never been late on any payments of any kind! - I never over spend and I never max out the two cards I have. Both cards with low limits do not know why one is with HSBC - they are a mess - When I asked them to raise my limit all I get is sorry we are not handing out bigger limits at this time lol been over a year now they been saying this hmmm Best Buy asked me to take out a care with them so I did over a year ago and I am still at a very low limit and I mean low $300 lol it's a joke what the H_ _ _ can I buy at that low limit? Not much. My bank card has over $4,000 limit and is always paid in full each month.
Now CITI sent me a offer for a card - twice now - I filled it out and waited weeks to get a letter saying sorry at this time we can not issue a card to you please try in a few months? hmmm OK well four months went by and I forgot about CITI but in the US mail came an offer to get a CITI card so I filled it out on line this time and with in two days I got an EMail saying sorry we can't give you a card cause you do not meet or standard? What does that mean?
I travel in the summer I pay my bills I buy what I need on credit or cash and I can;t even get a credit card. so with the two I have I will just move along as the card company's are a mess and they do not know WHO is a good person and a dead beat and in my checking around CITI and many others like HSBC are in the red on credit cards from years gone by and I guess I the good paying guy ME will not get any more credit cause I pay my bills - I say they are scared to give credit but they run ads to give credit????
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