How Not to Manage a Brand’s Social Presence

NMTW Credit Union

Updated: Tom Hammond from the senior NMTW called me and talked about the situation. Though we probably don’t agree on how the situation was handled, it shows professionalism and commitment that he took the time to reach out. Evidently, it wasn’t a canned response but a “personal” response from one of the VP’s at the credit union.

I’ll admit that this story comes out of some personal frustration. I recently had a situation where my credit union closed my account, after having been a member for over 20 years. The balance on this account had been in negatives for 15 days or something, and that’s evidently a big policy point for them, so they closed it. Mind you, other accounts of mine at other establishments have been in this situation over the years, and essentially, I’ll just put them back to positive, pay whatever fees that incurs, and we all continue working together.

But this specific post is about social media presence management. If you are visually impaired or if the graphic above was a little too small, I’ll recount the story.

I first sent an email to the credit union’s only published email. I asked in the email that it be forwarded to the credit union’s president, not in that “I’m Chris Brogan, that’s why” way, but in the “do you really want to turn away a 20-year member” way. No reply.

I then found the credit union’s account on Facebook, because I’d seen that they were quite active on it, promoting the establishment of new accounts. I posted this:

You lost a 20-year member today. I emailed your info@ email address to forward the reason why to your president. Wishing you better in the future.

Here’s the Meat of It All

It’s what came next that’s the opportunity for community managers and brand managers to learn from. What I got back from that post was this (oh, and over 24 hours later):

NMTW takes pride in its member service and we strive to add value to everyone’s day. We regret that in your situation we were unable to assist you any further at the time of your branch visit. NMTW would like to thank you for bringing this to our attention and in doing so will prevent similar events in the future.

Er, um. A form response?

I then got a little pissy, but that’s not the point.

If you are going to address a frustrated customer via a social channel, you might consider doing better than responding with what amounts to a pat reply. There were a few hundred other ways one could have handled it. Here’s a sampling:

  • Take the argument offline by asking to call and talk directly. (Learned this from Frank Eliason back in the day.)
  • Apologize for the experience, and acknowledge the request to ensure the email got forwarded.
  • Reach out via the several ways one could contact me and seek to learn more.

We could easily come up with a few more ways to deal with this in the comments if you want, but hopefully, the point is obvious.

Phoning in your social media presence management isn’t going to be all that helpful to your customer’s experience. If you’re working through a third party agency to have them manage your presence, you might want to “secret shop” how they treat your upset customers.

Thoughts on the presence management part of this story? runs on the Genesis Framework

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  • Marc Ensign

    Remind me not to piss you off :)

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  • Sara

    I’m astounded by the financial services sector responses. We, the customer, have some kind of “responsibility” to the destroyers of world economies. Give me a ‘king break. I ran huge bookstores for years. The customer is always right. Active listening. Don’t be afraid to say sorry. The customer pays your salary…oh I forgot…you “financial services” people are so used to cheating us that it makes sense you despise us…see any of Matt Taibi’s financial pieces or the excellent piece in the current issue of Vanity Fair on Bain’s shenanigans. I am a citizen of the world, btw, not a “democrat”. My word is my bond and all that…

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