Last Thursday British Gas tweeted this:
Our Customer Services Director Bert Pijls will be taking part in a Q&A about our price rise at 1-2pm. Tweet your questions using #AskBG!
— British Gas (@BritishGas) October 17, 2013
The company already has a possible media crisis on its hands after telling customers that their energy bills will be going up when winter is fast approaching, so many would wonder if this is really the best time for a question and answer session? Surely it would add further fuel to the fire?
Well in an effort to engage customers via Twitter, as an opportunity to ask the company about the rising prices, the #AskBG hashtag, as you’d expect, fast became a venting channel which resulted in a tremendous swell of abusive, reputation-damaging comments, ranging from offensive to funny. The volume of #AskBG tweets was high enough for British Gas to become a trending topic, which unfortunately became apparent with many of the UK national newspapers that chose to publicise the topic.
This was a brave way for British Gas to engage with their customers, as unavoidable bad news had to be announced. This could be perceived as a way for the company to deal with the issue at hand rather than keeping quiet. Let’s face it, the company was never going to receive an abundance of positive and loving messages with or without any statement of price hikes, but this session gave the company a way to put their argument across, dealing directly with the customer – that’s what engagement is all about, no? Unfortunately, if there isn’t a sufficient team to manage and monitor the crisis, genuine queries to the company could be missed for sarcastic tweets like this:
— robb (@robbalaar) October 17, 2013
Now that the intensity of the crisis has settled, does British Gas have a strategic recovery plan, to manage the fall out of reputation damaging tweets and Google search results for the brand where the crisis still persists?