It took me three days to stop fuming, and I’m still not over the fact that Time Warner Cable betrayed me last week. My newspaper TV listing on Jan. 23 was clear: Kent State vs. Akron, 7 p.m., TWC, Channel 23. The game was sold out and certain to be a madhouse. I opted to watch the most-anticipated basketball game of the season so far in the comfort of my home.
TWC didn’t carry the game on Channel 23. I found out later, after two complaining emails, that the game allegedly ran on Channel 79. Who knew? Certainly no one who reads the local paper.
I don’t routinely surf the 700+ channels on my digital dial or I may have tripped across the game. And I still don’t know if the error was Time-Warner’s or the Beacon Journal’s. I asked TWC to look into it and let me know who goofed. The rep said he’d do that, but I’ve not heard a peep. So, today, TWC learns that I’m not just a customer, I’m a customer with a blog — and I know how to use it!
Contrast the Time-Warner fiasco with my Amazon.com experience a day earlier. I was shopping online at the Amazon-Borders site and attempted to use a $25 Border’s gift card my son had given me for Christmas. The site wouldn’t accept the card, so I sent an email to customer service asking for help.
Two hours later, a rep sent clear instructions. My order went through, but the email confirming my shipment two days later showed no gift-card credit. Arrgh!
I sent a second email. Again within two hours the rep responded, apologized for the mistake, and said there was no record of my gift card number. “But you’re a loyal customer,” he wrote, “and we trust you.” Amazon deducted $25 from my bill. End of story. I still have the valid gift card, but I don’t plan to use it. Screwy, isn’t it? Borders got the $25, and Amazon took the loss to keep me happy. The least I can do is applaud them on a blog that deals with issues of reputation and trust.
A few months back I wrote a post about the “weakest link” for most companies — the link of the customer interface. While customer service doesn’t report to public relations, it has the most lasting impact on how people perceive those companies. It affects what we say to our friends, and what we write in our blogs and post to our social networks.
Amazon showed me why it’s among the most respected companies in the world. Time Warner Cable showed me it’s the plodding dinosaur we all know it to be.
Reputations are built on performance. Let’s hope the PR professionals among us never forget that.