Web care Archetypes: The Firefighter


Some of the archetypes I would like to start with a personal story and this is one of them:

There was a service disruption of our TV signal. Since we are getting used to using Twitter as a service channel (sometimes the only way to get some decent service), my wife decided to sent out a tweet to our provider of our TV signal. Since my neighbour has a triple play subscription with the same provider (since he not only lacked a TV signal, but wasn’t able to call and didn’t had an internet connection) he too send out a tweet.

Seven hours later when I arrived home nor my wife nor our neighbour had received a reply, while in other situations they would have received a reply. So I decided to send out a tweet and within minutes I got a reply back from them, with just the message they we working really hard.

The next morning I contacted them again and asked if they could provide me a deadline when there work would be finished and when they could inform me about a refund. When I asked my neighbour what he would do with the money of the refund, he told me they hadn’t reach out to him and he didn’t hear anything about any refund. In the end he didn’t got a refund. It was like the provider just forget that my neighbor was paying five times more than I am for my subscription. However I was just of the few, more influential, customers that tweeted and got a refund.


A spark neglected makes a mighty fire.  

Robert Herrick

When things are getting busy, you need to focus, that is the thing this provider probably did: focus on the people that could create damage on the short run. Given that I am more influential than my wife or my neighbour (at least on vanity metrics such as Klout, Kred and Peerindex), they might give me a higher priority. However they forgot about certain other important things. First of all my wife is journalist, I would say that is one demographic you want to maintain a good friendship with. Second of all is that my neighbour has the premium package and is paying way more for his subscription than we do. Third of all is that I told them in the past that if I had any opportunity to switch that I would so. It is not like giving me a refund would make me stay for any longer than I should have to.

Basically they made a decision on too little variables to just reach out to me. Both my neighbour and my wife noticed that they were ignored while they saw that I got a reply within minutes. It provides a whole different meaning to the word customer experience.

How to make it better

The key change that has to be made in this case is to know your customers better and make sure you treat everybody as equal as you can, or as important as they really are for you. In this case there was a disturbance of service in a couple of streets, people who live in streets together tend to talk with each other. Not taking that specific piece of geographic information into account is making it yourself very difficult, since conversations happen not only online.

In this case the focus is on the wrong people: importance is more than a Klout score. A small analysis just on names showed that me and my neighbour were both complaining, and since we are neighbours we are likely to be in touch with each other. Basically there is a need for better information and perhaps even a bit of workflow automation so decisions are made on data instead of on gut feeling and some arbitrary numbers.

It is important to have the context available, instead of just having a single tweet and a single number. N=1 is a sample size that is too small.