News, Culture & Society

The Approach Is All Wrong – Virgin Media and Social Media Endless Battle

Looking from the outside in there’s a company very close to home (they may even be in your home) who is just getting social media wrong. At least we think they are.

The company you might be surprised to hear is Virgin Media.

If you take a look at Virgin Media’s Facebook and Twitter profiles you will see that there is an almost endless amount of customer complaints about their connection, speed, account, and even more on top of that. Whenever Virgin Media posts updates the customer issues flood in through the comments underneath the post – that’s Facebook. The official company Twitter account has simply became a response tool for customer service and complaints; to find the last “commodity tweet” Virgin tweeted off their own back is from a good while ago.

Now we are not focusing on their responses because they clearly have a team there ready to respond and reply to customers about these issues (which is good!). Our point is when these complaints are made and then registered on these channels by a team remember just how far within the company does that go?

Not Going Far Enough!

We honestly don’t think it goes that far at all. And the reason we know is the same issues have been cropping up time and time again since early 2011 (we’ve been keeping an eye on it for a while).

Whoever is in charge of the social media at Virgin Media hasn’t considered the wider implications to the company of their involvement in social media.

Social Media is the consumer/people/customer channel – you are in their space; they have the power and will call you out if so aggrieved, which is already happening to Virgin Media. Once a complaint is made it should then be pushed to another team who is solely responsible for customer complaints via social media. Now these folks need to be a specialist and empowered bunch. They will need to get involved with people across departments to solve customer issues. Inter-departmental issues will crop up and implementation of such a team may be difficult at first but it’s the way to make a success of it with Virgin Media and similar organisations.

If Virgin Media took social media seriously and had such a team in places they’d know that their customers are not happy, I mean, people even get Instagram followers for free on this site, so we talk about another level of social presence. It’s written all over the Facebook and Twitter engagement. The main issues to crop up are to do with poor broadband speeds from what is advertised and paid for, connectivity issues, a lack of resolution of old customer issues and current levels of customer service.

But here’s the crux of the matter. Even if Virgin Media had such a social media care team in place they wouldn’t be able to do too much about it. Why? Because the decisions on current operations and objectives ultimately comes from the board level. It is clear to us that they haven’t taken much interest in the feedback from their social channels. Otherwise they would have seen long ago that customers do not like getting 10% of their advertised speed with no discount; they’d see that being sold to during every customer service call is a stupid idea; they’d see that customers are not happy; and they’d see that people are saying they will leave Virgin Media at the end of their contract.

What Can We Assume Are The Key Issues

  1. They are not listening to their customers
  2. They have social media objectives which are not aligned with their wider commercial objectives
  3. They are using it as a broadcast marketing tool
  4. There is no social media customer retention strategy/protocol
  5. There is no feedback distribution to the wider organisation
  6. Virgin’s Social Media Strategy has not come from the top down
  7. They haven’t seen the value in social media for real-time market research

What Can Virgin Media Do?

Google search Virgin Media and you will see that the company have been posting positive profit figures from current practices. However we feel that they could do more that would lead to even larger profits in the long term. The secret is happy customers. Don’t focus on happy shareholders only!

We think the current marketing ethos of Virgin Media is to try and echo the entrepreneurial spirit of the Virgin brand and Richard Branson but this is not what customers want or indeed are crying out for. Forget marketing and forget PR. Focus on business strategy and infrastructure, resources and customer service.

Internet access has become synonymous with our daily lives. It doesn’t really matter who we get our access through but we need it. If Virgin isn’t giving it to current customers then they will leave in droves for competitors.

It’s so simple: Listen to what your customers want and act on it.

But then this is the company who have been in hot water with the Advertising Standards Authority because of over exaggerated claims of their broadband speeds – it seems they won’t listen to anyone.

Are you a Virgin Customer? What do you think about the content of this post? Care to share a positive experience that flips our argument on its head? Do you agree? As usual comments are most welcome.


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