By Stephen Schenck | June 19, 2013 6:10 PM
Social media, in its many forms, has seriously broken down some of the walls between companies and their user bases. In the past, if you had problems with your Samsung phone, you’d be taking things up one-on-one with some random customer service rep, and if things didn’t work out they way you liked, there was not much to be done about it. Today, users post their complaints on Facebook or Twitter for all to see, and to an extent, taking these private issues public has created a greater incentive for companies to resolve them. On the flip side, this direct line to customers gives companies faster, more targeted ways to inform them of the latest products and services. On the surface, everyone’s winning.
Except, it doesn’t always work that way.
This is a rant about one of those times.
One week ago, on Wednesday, June 12, both AT&T and T-Mobile published teaser videos regarding waterproof smartphones each planned to reveal. While neither carrier made a formal announcement about either device at the time, each conveyed that they’d be following up the next day with more info.
Sure enough, 24 hours later AT&T had revealed its plans for sales of Samsung’s waterproof Galaxy S 4 Active.
Now, if you read my Pocketnow Insider bio over the weekend, you’ll know that I’m not a big social networking guy. Nevertheless, I wanted to be able to follow up on my T-Mobile post and bring you guys the official announcement. As such, I set up camp over on the carrier’s Facebook page last Thursday, where it had first posted that teaser video.
Right away, it was clear that something was wrong. There was no sign of an announcement, and the first day’s posts of speculation as to just what smartphone model T-Mobile was teasing had degenerated into confusion over the absence of news.
“Its tomorrow……….” “I’ve been keeping an eye out both here and on the main site. Sup tmobile?” “Tmobile. I have been waiting patiently for months. Please?” “T-Mobile can’t wait or maybe you’ve changed your mind?!! lol“
Finally, an official voice chimed-in: “Hey everyone! Stay tuned for more details!” That seemed like progress, but it would ultimately prove to be the last time T-Mobile acknowledged the so-far missing announcement in the thread it had created just for that purpose. Oddly, official responses continued to arrive for individual complaints about T-Mobile service wholly unrelated to the missing news, but there were no more updates about this waterproof phone.
I took another peek on Friday, not really having much hope, and of course – no announcement.
T-Mobile finally did take the time to talk about that waterproof phone and formally announce its exclusive US deal on the Sony Xperia Z… yesterday, five days following when it had told its Facebook fans to expect the news.
Now, I understand that plans can change, especially when we’re dealing with large businesses the size of T-Mobile and Sony. Sometimes, situations quickly escalate out of your control, and you’re unable to deliver on earlier promises – it sucks, but that’s life. But when you find yourself in a situation like that, some of the only things worth doing are acknowledging the issue, offering an apology if appropriate, and sharing whatever new, up-to-date info you can.
All T-Mobile needed to do – sometime last Thursday when it realized that it wasn’t going to be able to follow-up with that waterproof phone news it had told subscribers was coming – was to post a short message: “Sorry guys, but this smartphone’s just being a little shy, and we can’t share it with you today. Thanks for all of your interest, and make sure to check back next week for the full story.”
Instead, T-Mobile did nothing.
As such, comments kept coming in all weekend:
“Tmobile must be senile because they forgot.” “No details were released “tomorrow” as claimed. FAIL!” “I can’t believe this, how are you gonna tease an announcement and not make one?“
Listen, T-Mobile, this whole social networking thing is about conversations – interactions between people. Just like in real life, people find it a bit rude when you strike up a conversation with them, only to abruptly leave in the middle. You politely excuse yourself, not silently back away from the people you were talking to while they all look on in confusion – that’s how serial killers act.
Maybe I just caught T-Mobile’s Facebook presence on a bad day. Maybe someone really was supposed to come through with the Xperia Z news last Thursday, and just plumb forgot. But really, man: no one’s forcing you to engage in social networking in the first place. If you’re going to play, at least have the courtesy to do it right.
Source: T-Mobile (Facebook)