E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

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Social Business Is People to People Business – The Movistar Story

Movistar en parque olímpico de BarcelonaIn the past you may remember how time and time again I have mentioned how one of the main use cases from a successful Social Business would eventually be that one of customer service and customer support, although over the course of time you may have noticed how my experiences have been very lacking in this regard. So, instead of giving up on it altogether a long while ago I decided to keep pushing for it, because I knew it that at some point it would click and that would be the day where we may be witnessing that tipping point for that use case to become a reality. Well, I think that day has arrived. Today. And that company that has finally understood what a social business is all about is one that I never expected that it would be coming around, as seen on this blog a few times already. That social business with a success story on providing excellent customer service and support is Movistar. Yes, you are reading it right. Movistar!

I have always been saying that the day both telcos and airlines, along with government, amongst a couple of others, start embracing social networking for business that may well be the day where we can consider it a historic moment. A day of no return. A day that will mark a before and an after difficult to back out from. And while we are waiting for airlines and governments to make that jump, it looks like telcos, at least, one of the largest ones out there at the moment, Movistar, has just made that jump. At least, again, with yours truly, because after years of trying and persevering, it looks like things are paying off. At long last!!

See? It’s all about personal experiences, it’s about putting your customers right at the centre, it’s about understanding how that customer centric approach is going to make you much more successful and profitable at large. It’s about understanding how as important and paramount as corporate brands are (Specially, in the context of B2B), it’s actually people the ones who make business. So if your business is starting to make that transition into becoming a social business you may need to start changing, or adapting, the traditional B2B and B2C perspectives into what some of us have been saying all along is the one that will function as the main core engine of how business gets done nowadays: P2P. People to People

Indeed, that’s just what’s happened to me in the last few hours and as much as I have been blogging, and on a regular basis, every time that customer support and customer service are lacking for whatever business that claims to be a social business, I am also determined to share the success stories from those same social businesses whenever they come to deliver and, specially, if it has happened in a big way! So the following blog post is a story of what customer service and customer support should be all about in the world of digital and social networking for business in general…

It all started with yours truly being embarked on his last business trip for the summer, to Madrid, then to Seville, to participate on a couple of internal workshops on living social (in Madrid itself) and a summer course at the University of Pablo de Olavide, in Carmona, Seville, on the topic of “La Empresa y la Administración Pública en la Era de las Redes Sociales“. While on the first leg of the business trip, I decided to give it a go, once more, and see if I could finally get my problem fixed with my 3G USB Novatel MC996D modem, provided by my current employer, since it was driving me a bit crazy that I have been having it working for a good couple of years, but in the last few days it stopped working, all of a sudden, and since I’m on the road on a regular basis it was starting to cripple my ability to remain productive while on the move. So I tweeted this, after another couple of tweets of being ignored, but that I cannot longer find since Twitter ate them up, as usual, thanks to its wonderfully, and utterly useless search engine: 


Notice how I already knew where to direct that tweet, since I have been trying multiple times in the past to receive some other customer support, but to no avail. This time around though, since it is a company issued 3G USB modem I was re-directed to @movistarpro_es as a focused group working on these issues for knowledge workers. And, once again, I was ignored… I didn’t receive a single response from that corporate brand handle and I was eventually back again to square one. Or so I thought…, because, shortly after, I bumped into this particular tweet from Manuel Richter:


Which may have alerted then Emilio Rodríguez (Movistar’s external Community Manager) at the same time, for that matter. Because, shortly after that tweet I got this other one from Emilio himself: 

So we got together, followed each other and we embarked on a rather interesting and fascinating DM exchange, which I am going to keep just that, private, to respect Emilio and our interactions as such. I guess I could ask him to make the exchange public, but I don’t think it would be necessary, since, you know, some things in life should remain just that: private.

The great news is that, after I mentioned to him how I needed to aim for a speedy fix for the problem, since I would be needing the 3G USB modem connection tomorrow in Carmona, Seville, he passed on all of the details to the folks from Movistar’s technical support and a couple of hours later, while I was having dinner, on a Saturday evening (Important to note this as well!), I got a phone call from one of his colleagues who wanted to figure out what was happening and what the problem may well be and how we could fix it. So we spent about one hour trying to do some extended problem determination and having worked myself over 4 years in technical customer service I do know and fully appreciate the extended patience, understanding and perseverance from Emilio’s colleague to help out. Alas, we couldn’t solve the problem, for whatever the reason. And he mentioned he would note down the reference number and have someone call me in the morning to confirm whether it was a problem with the modem or the phone card itself. I confirmed with him to get a call at around 10:00 am and lo and behold, right on time, I got that phone call. 

And this time around, another technical support representative, José, as his first name, spent another 45 minutes doing some extensive problem determination for the second time, following up further on where his colleague left it the night before, and, finally, after having him confirmed with me how the 3G USB modem I am using is *not*  compatible with Mac OS X (v. 10.7.2 and above – I am using v 10.7.4), not sure just yet what happened but he managed to make it connect to the Internet and ever since I have been a happy camper, once more! 

Now, I know that at this point in time I may need to have the modem replaced, if I would want to have full support from Movistar, if I run into problems again, but this time around José’s dedication, patience, wit and smarts, resilience and politeness got me going, and really happy, because not only did he help me get connected, he also confirmed with his support and phone calls how online customer service and customer support, that is, Manuel’s and Emilio’s efforts paid off and big time! 

Indeed, they did plenty of active listening out there on the social streams, they reached out, they engaged in a very professional and polite manner (Just like we are all entitled to, even if it were through the phone!) trying to understand what the problem was and how we could fix it. They provided extended value and additional feedback connecting the dots with the right folks from technical support and instead of having to go through the lifeless corporate brand, here I was interacting people to people with those folks who could help me and who eventually did successfully. Absolutely brilliant!

I do fully realise that this is just one single instance on excellence and brilliant customer support, from beginning to end, from active listening, to eventually address the problem, take ownership of it from me, and do their outmost to fix it, which they did eventually! But I am hopeful it won’t be the last one. People are people. And once you do business with them as people that’s all what remains. As a result, of course, though the corporate brand benefits, but I can honestly tell you that right now, Movistar is very lucky to have folks like Emilio, José and extended their contacts, because they came along big time proving it’s possible to make that shift from Business to Business into People to People. 

And that’s just the beginning of becoming a Socially Integrated Enterprise. The dream come true for any other business out there who may have embarked on this journey of embracing Social Business. Movistar is just one giant leap closer to it and I am, for once, very excited to share out there with the world something I never thought I would say: I’m a happy customer of Movistar

(And that will show even more next time I drop by the Movistar local shop to upgrade my paid services with them)

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  1. This is great and all, but why does it require special efforts on our parts to go out and find these people on Twitter (or whatever)? Shouldn’t they just have good customer service that works? I’m certainly glad to see that Movistar actually knows how to integrate their Twitter team with the rest of their customer support – maybe that’s the way it should be. My experience with Comcast and Sears has been sorely lacking. They have separate support groups – groups that certainly don’t talk to the rest of their customer support functions. Ugh!

    1. Hi Jack! Thanks much for dropping by and for the feedback comments! Greatly appreciated the insights and spot on! Indeed, it may seem as if I went out for help and support and I guess I was originally looking for the phone number for customer support, which I didn’t have, so I reached out to the official Twitter account from the telco just to ask for support & a phone number to call. I was never given it. So I moved on … and that’s when I mentioned the follow-up tweet, because I didn’t go anywhere, and that’s where things changed because I got contacted by Manuel first, then Emilio, to see if they could help out… I didn’t know them from before, nor were we following each other or anything. They just “bumped” into my tweet and decided to intervene.

      I have always believed that whenever you have got a product and you have to resort to customer support / customer service, it’s already too late, since I have already tried out everything I did and nothing worked. In this example, they were the pro-active ones engaging with me before they even knew what the problem / issue may well have been. It was that being proactive which allowed me to engage with them and eventually sort out the issues in less than half a day!!

      Yikes! Surely those examples you mentioned above could do a bit more homework towards that integration, since all of these social networking sites what they are are nothing else than another channel to interact with your customers and just like the phone or email, they are there to help people solve their problems, which is what matters in customer service and that’s just what they did!!

      I am just hoping it’s not just a single iteration, but the first one of many many more to come!

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