Vayama Hell , Social & CRM
I just had a very bad experience with Vayama, the online travel agency.
Nothing personal, we, consumers, all have this kind of horror stories from time to time. But this is so typical of how companies “embrace social media” that it is worth documenting the learnings here.
In a nutshell (that accounts for 5 hours of my time and kept me literally up for two nights)
1) I purchased a ticket on their web site (price is usually very good), 2) They charged me twice the price on my credit card 3) It took me hours and 6 calls to their offshore call center and still they were unable to fix it 4) I had to walk to their office in Mountain View CA to have someone take care of my problem.
And in the process, I found out that:
- although they asked me to send a copy of my bank statement tho their customer support email address, their call center people did not have access to this email account.
- although they had my address, they called me at 5:30 in the morning to inquire whether I bought a ticket from them – didn’t know that already?
- they couldn’t do a refund even so they acknowledged they invoiced by mistake.
On the other hand, they have a nice Facebook page and 4 Twitter accounts.
The end of the story was that M. at the Vayama Office (W El Camino Real #204, Mountain View, CA) fixed my problem and apologized. She did deliver superior customer support.
But this unfortunate event raises in my mind major questions around Social Media and Customer Service/ Social CRM.
What the heck is Social CRM if the contact with the company is outsourced? How can the brand build trust & social relations if every time you call you get helped by a different person? If you can’t even know the name or the number of the person you are speaking to or send a direct email or a tweet to the employee who is supposed to help you?
When I entered the Vayama office, the first thing I was told was “we are not supposed to talk to customers here, we don’t really know how to deal with this”.. yet it is exactly what they did. Not Vayama but M., their employee.
Social Media’s promise is to enable brands to engage with customers, mainly through their employees. So let’s go back to basics and spell a few rules:
- Social CRM is not compatible with offshoring
- Social CRM cannot be delivered by anonymous employees
- Social CRM cannot be delivered by employees that customers can’t reach
- Social CRM cannot be delivered by employees who are not empowered to fix customer problems
- Social CRM cannot be delivered by employees who are paid and measured by how many minutes they spend with the customer
Then come the cost argument. In this industry, can companies really move away from “low cost support” to building relations with their client and move the time spent talking to their clients from an expense to an asset ?
What’s your opinion?