Interview with Bad Service Belgium

In a couple of posts already I have bashed Belgium’s appalling services and the notorious mobility problems that afflict the city by interviewing the famous @STIB_fail Twitter account. In an effort to investigate on people’s reaction about the poor Belgian service culture, I talked to another Twitter account’s manager who collects all these complaints. It’s @BadService_BE. Let’s see how he made it all happen.


When was the account created?

The account was created around March 2011.

What was the initial reason to open this account?

I was literally ripped off by a so-called company and I lost money. I felt so helpless that I wanted other people to know about this situation. Additionally, since I have had heard similar stories from friends complaining about different service providers I decided to create Bad Service Belgium to give the chance to people like me to have a simple and effective way to complain and our voices to be heard. My ultimate goal is to improve the experience of customer service in Belgium.

How many people really know your identity?

Not many. Family and some friends know about who is behind Bad Service Belgium. I have nothing to hide, but I rather remain not directly connected to the account.

Where do you get most of your complaints from? Are they mainly from Brussels?

Yes, mainly from Brussels, however I am receiving more and more complaints from all over the country. And from time to time I even receive complaints from tourists who were confronted with poor customer service and were able to find the Bad Service Belgium on Twitter. Typically people complain about public transportation and GSM/Internet operators. This is probably because of the high number of customers they have and the impact it causes in their lives.

What is your strategy behind retweets and moderation policy?

I only retweet when a complaint makes sense and might be helpful for other people to know about it (especially to put pressure to the concerned service provider to take action accordingly). I do not retweet anything related to topics such as politics, religion, sexuality or any extremist message. I also avoid non-sense complaints such as “I hate the weather” or “The guy sitting next to me stinks”. The only exception I rarely make to non-sense complaints is when they are so funny that, if I think I can make at least one single person smile or laugh, then I say why not 😉

How many notifications do you get per day? What are they mainly about?

It really depends on the day. On a regular day I get between 5-10 tweets. It also depends if people get active on a specific issue, or if there is a big service disruption that affects many people.

Have you ever been actually contacted by any of the institutions you complained about? If so, for what reason?

Mostly when I retweet a complaint, some companies offer immediate assistance to the affected customer and keep me informed of the outcome. They know that an isolated issue can easily become viral if not treated accordingly.

Do you think Belgium offer insufficient services? Can you mention other positive examples from other countries?

I do not believe that Belgium is better or worse than any other country in terms of customer service. People get good and bad customer service all over the world. However, because the important international community living mainly around Brussels, there are different expectations from different people. These expectations are heavily connected to their origins and the way customer service is handled back in their countries. Because of these differences and probably also due to a possible language barrier, some people often tend to generalize that there is a bad customer service culture in Belgium.

What’s the plan for the future? Do you plan on expanding your communication channels?

For the moment – mainly because I am doing this by myself – I will keep trying on retweeting as fast as possible (I manually go through every single tweet I receive for the sake of moderation). I hope to be able to maintain growth in the people that follow Bad Service Belgium (over 1300 followers to date), so a big thanks for all those who follow the account!

I have also created a Facebook page which do not seem to be quite successful as the Twitter account. So I still need to elaborate the strategy on Facebook.

Last but not least, I also created a “Good Service Belgium” Twitter account because I believe that praising for good customer service has even a greater impact than complaining about bad one. I am looking forward to see more people using that account.

Social media will destroy Belgium appalling service culture

Belgium’s service culture is disgraceful. This is not an assumption, it’s a fact. Especially in the horeca business, staff is almost always rude, sloppy or unwilling to help. As a friend of mine well says :

When you ask for food in a Belgian restaurant, waiters and cooks act like they are doing you a favour by bringing you food

The examples I could mention are 1000000000000s but this is not the scope of this post. If you you want to know about dreadful experiences just tweet me at @marcoRecorder. You’ll be amazed.

Nonetheless, there is a quite successful Twitter account called Bad Service Belgium listing all bad experiences people are having with services in Belgium and, more specifically, you can follow STIB MIVB FAIL for all problems related to public transports in Brussels. They are some pretty funny accounts.

This low level of performance also includes services, not only bars and restaurant. In the famous Facebook group BXL A LOUER – bouche à oreilles, which counts over 44.000 members, I came across the case of Joanne who flagged something really terrible that a real estate and housing agency did to her.

As we can see from the Facebook post below, the agency IMMO Minc literally wrote her an e-mail in which they say

“We don’t have time to waste with people like you and we are sure you will not find an apartment. Get lost!”

What did she do in return? The right thing. She flagged this throughout her social media so that people would be aware they shouldn’t go to that agency. Do you think any of the 44.000 group members would ever contact the agency?Bad_customer_service_in_Belgium Continue reading “Social media will destroy Belgium appalling service culture”