Facebook’s Customer Service Disaster

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How hard is it to work with Facebook?

Before I shed light upon this seemingly straightforward question, I’ll share some experiences we have while working at an advertising agency that manages a few million dollars worth of Facebook advertising a year.

Introduction – Google AdWords: The Reckoning

Google used to have similar policies as Facebook when it ran the paid search monopoly in 2009-’11. There are many stories of folks with small businesses who were crippled when their AdWords account got shut down.

In October through December of 2009, Google came down on advertisers with the swiftness and brutal efficiency of, well, Google … In mid 2009, Google announced that it would start banning AdWords accounts that violate its policies. Sure enough in September, the ban hammer began to drop. And drop it did. No one knows for sure how many accounts were banned, but the reaction from the AdWords advertising community left little doubt that it was a very large number. In all fairness, Google did ban quite a few unsavory advertisers. Those who had false offers, collected data illegally, injected malware, etc. But many legitimate businesses got caught in the automatic banning algorithm.

Finally, after a year of frustrating its customers to no end, Google introduced free phone support for AdWords advertisers. To this day, Google has an excellent advertiser support program that assists every advertiser with phone and email support to help with pretty much any AdWords question or problem. It even swaps your account representative every quarter to get fresh eyes on your account.

Facebook’s Customer Service Disaster

In Q1 2015, Facebook generated just over $3.54 billion of which, $3.32 billion (up 46% YoY) was advertising revenue.

Let that sink in for a moment – $3.32 billion in advertising revenue.

For those of us who work with Facebook advertising, we know all too well the level of customer service Facebook feels is adequate to serve its primary revenue generating product. What’s tragic about these revenue numbers is that Facebook has made one minor change to its customer service (Facebook Go) over the past year.

Facebook Go, recently changed its program such that if you spend $10,000 a month or more, you can continue to use the program (it used to be 30 days only). The catch is that you need to continue using new features if you are to continue in the program. Including: advertising for page likes, different bidding strategies, video ads, etc. I told my Facebook rep at the time that we’ve spent a great deal of time and money honing in our bidding strategies and that advertising for page likes is completely useless for the ROI advertiser. I could hear him shrug through the phone.

The tale has been told many times by disgruntled Facebook advertisers … Facebook ad account getting disabled; the same canned message from Facebook 48 hours after submitting a support request; Facebook Go reps going dark for weeks on end … the list goes on.

For those who remember, Google didn’t even have a phone number – it was hidden. To find it you had to Google it.

Our story is fairly simple.

We are a small advertising agency specializing in SEO, Google/Bing Ads and Facebook advertising. Our client’s budgets, however, are not small, then again maybe a high 7 figure spend is just small potatoes for Facebook?  We’ve been in and out of Facebook’s Go program designed for first-time advertisers. It was helpful getting feedback from someone at Facebook on issues with Power Editor and outages. Sometimes it escalated our support tickets, but reassured us that the escalation didn’t mean it would get solved any quicker than submitting the ticket ourselves.

Trying to get a dedicated agency Facebook representative has proved fruitless. We went as far as sending paid traffic to Facebook employees to a blog post pleading for a dedicated agency rep. We know they exist. We’ve been told their office is in Austin, Texas and it’s a small but growing division of Facebook that specializes in working with marketing agencies that have multiple high volume clients.

Maybe for Facebook clients who spend north of seven figures is small potatoes.

But if the money doesn’t matter, what does?

We have tried multiple times to directly request a dedicated agency rep and this was one of the responses we got:

Hi Curtis,

 

Thank you for your patience. I understand that you would like an Account Manager dedicated to your account. There are a variety of factors that go into selecting clients for the Account Management program that weigh heavier than spend. At this time you will not be assigned an Account Manager; however, you are welcome to request our support or recommendations through www.facebook.com/business/resources.

 

Is there anything specific you had questions about at this time? I would be happy to help.

 

Have a great day!

 

Dane
Global Marketing Solutions
Facebook

I mean, who doesn’t appreciate a half-hearted “awe, nice try little buddy!” response?

Let’s get back into the real issue of its customer service model (or lack there of). Facebook’s current customer service is simple. Advertisers go to the above mentioned link: www.facebook.com/business/resources and fill out a brief form that does not include the ability to upload an attachment. This I find worth chuckling over because the first response nearly always asks for an attachment of a video demonstrating the issue you may be having.

This is a pretty typical first response from Facebook that you’ve experienced if you have ever sent a request for help:

Hi Curtis,

 

Thank you for writing in. My name is Mike and I am more than happy to assist you. It’s possible that this problem is being caused by your browser or computer. I recommend that you take the following steps to see if they solve the problem:

 

  1. Clear your cache and cookies in your browser’s settings or preferences to ensure that old browser information is not interfering with your Facebook experience. For instructions on how to do this, please visit our Help Center:https://www.facebook.com/help/1416643995215690
  2. Disable third-party add-ons to your browser. We recommend disabling these add-ons entirely before accessing the site again. Particularly, any ad-blocking extensions you might have installed can sometimes cause these types of problems.
  3. Attempt this action with a different supported browser or computer.

If you’ve taken the steps listed above and the issue is still unresolved, please send me a screencast that shows the issue you’re experiencing, including all the steps you’re taking. If you don’t already have the software to do so, you can use this free screen capture program:

 

https://www.techsmith.com/jing.html

 

Please note that we recommend logging in to Facebook before beginning your screencast so your login details remain confidential.

 

Please let me know if you have any additional questions or if there is anything else I can do to help.

 

Thank you,

 

Mike
Global Marketing Solutions
Facebook

I send Mike the attached screenshot he requests. This is his next response (again, I have multiple emails that resemble or look exactly like these two).

Hi Curtis,

 

Thanks for getting back with me with the screencast. Based on the information you’ve provided, I’ve escalated this issue to our technical team for further investigation.

 

We will follow up with you as the team investigates and may reach out if they need any additional information.

 

In the meantime, please feel free to respond to this email with any additional questions. Thanks for your patience as we look into this.

 

Thank you,

 

Mike
Global Marketing Solutions
Facebook

Forty-eight to 72 hours have elapsed since opening a ticket, I then hear back (often times a week or two later) from someone who says “I’m sorry for your issues, we are working on it, here’s a $50 advertising credit.”

Finally, it seems Facebook is mimicking Google’s “great purge of 2009” though Facebook is not transparent as to what is leading it to disable ad accounts or why. The emails you receive petitioning the disabled ad accounts are classic:

Hi Curtis,

 

Thanks for reaching out to us. Your account has been disabled for not following Facebook’s Advertising Guidelines.

 

Ad accounts are evaluated for policy compliance and quality of ad content. When accounts have run ads that are not policy compliant, they are disabled.

 

Your account was disabled for running misleading ads that resulted in high negative feedback from people on Facebook. Our goal is to provide the highest quality user experience. We reserve the right to reject any advertising that we deem contrary to these objectives. Similarly, we reserve the right to close an account creating ads contrary to these objectives.

 

For this reason, if any of your ads have been removed or your ad account has been disabled, we will be unable to reactivate either. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Please consider this decision final.

 

Thanks for your understanding,

 

Louise
Ads Integrity Team
Facebook

Interesting.

We were able to peak into the disabled ad account and look at the various performance metrics that Facebook recently released that show how receptive the audience is to the ads. I find the majority of the spending ads are High in both Positive and Negative Feedback. They also have either an 8 or a 9 out of 10 relevancy score.

It’s truly amazing that a billion dollar company treats its primary revenue source with such disregard. How would your customers react if you handled service issues the same way?

What would you think if the neighborhood dry cleaner handled service issues this way?  Is good business to treat customers like this?  Or is an incredible amount of revenue masking a simple problem?

Again, if money doesn’t matter to Facebook, what does?

Back to Google: Bing started to give great customer service and Google followed shortly after (you were finally able to reach it). Will Facebook follow Google’s lead and actually put an emphasis on customer service?

What have been your experiences with Facebook support? Do you see it ever improving?