In praise of Vodafone’s social customer service

I blogged my frustration about Vodafone’s phone and data signal last week. I was so impressed by the company’s response on Twitter and on my blog that I thought it only fair to blog about it.

Jenny from Vodafone UK posted a reply to my post sympathising and offering to help. She also replied to my tweet. Her colleagues tried repeatedly to call me (last week was a busy one at work) and when we finally spoke the customer service team sent me a free Vodafone Sure Signal device to solve the very poor signal at home. It won’t solve the problem of poor data coverage on the go – but it will mean we won’t miss a call here.

This is a great example of how companies can use social media to help customers and improve their reputation. Well done to Jenny and the team.

Below: the Sure Signal device in action.

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A question of taste: the treatment of Louise Mensch and Roy Hodgson

Two high profile names were in the headlines today as victims of poor taste.

Tory MP Louise Mensch hit out at the abuse she received on Twitter after she refused to support fellow MPs’ condemnation of Rupert Murdoch as unfit to run a major international company.

Mensch told BBC Radio’s Today programme that critics were immoral and misogynistic for describing her as a slut and a whore. Cumbria’s chief constable Stuart Hyde (responsible for e-crime at the Association of Chief Police Officers, ACPO) described the comments as sexual bigotry at its worse.

Meanwhile, The Sun mocked new England football manager Roy Hodgson. Its headline ‘Bwing on the Euwos’ made fun of the way Roy pronounces ‘r’ as ‘w’. The headline has provoked a debate about the way we treat people with speech impediments. (Topical, with the recent film The King’s Speech about King George VI’s stammer.)

Mensch’s case shows once again how base online reaction can be. Obscenities once mouthed in pubs and clubs now go viral on social media and online forums. It’s deeply unpleasant for anyone affected, but hard to combat. Legal action is one possible approach, but as we saw with the Paul Chambers Twitter joke trial innocent but foolish people can suffer when the law is involved. (Chambers was regarded as a terrorist for making a silly joke on Twitter to blow up Doncaster airport after he was delayed.)

The Sun’s treatment of Roy Hodgson is rather different. In some ways it is worse – a national newspaper, rather than a loutish tweeter, mocks Roy’s speech in its front page lead story. Yet the line between humour and cruelty is a very fine one. Thirty years ago broadsheets routinely made fun of SDP leader Roy Jenkins’ identical affliction. (Anyone remember the song about Jenkins and fellow SDP leader Shirley Williams: ‘If you were the only Shirl, and I were the only Woy’?) More recently, supporters of Roy Hodgson’s firmer club Fulham wore shirts with the slogan ‘In Woy we Twust’.

Hodgson is a fine manager who speaks a string of foreign languages. (Not a skill I imagine the Sun headline writer could match.) He’ll shrug off the ‘joke’. Yet an unconfident teenager may not feel so happy about being mocked for a stammer or other speech trait. We should be sensitive to other people’s feelings.