Once upon a time, when someone bought something they were unhappy with they would have to write a letter to the manufacturer and hope to receive a call or a letter back in the mail offering some sort of reparation for the unsatisfactory product. If a person was at a store or in a restaurant where the service was terrible or there was a problem, that person could always ask for the manager but he/she always tried to avoid making a scene.
Now, however, things have changed. We live in an electronic world. A world of instant gratification. A world where everyone has two things: an opinion and a blog. And even then, blogging about it just comes off as complaining with very little chance for ending up happy with the results of the bad experience.
What seems to have become a bigger, better way of getting almost instant gratification when it comes to customer complaints is posting about the issues we have had via Social Media
Earlier in the year our dishwasher died. It was an expensive, high-end prototype dishwasher that was created by a foreign brand but had the AGA name on it. It happed to come to my wife and I via our kitchen makeover on HGTV’s Spice Up My Kitchen…but that’s another story. The point is, it was more expensive to buy the one part to fix the dishwasher than it would have been to buy a new one. So we headed out to Sears and ordered our dishwasher of choice and scheduled the delivery.
My wife took off a day from her job to wait for the delivery and scheduled a few other appointments for the same day so she would only miss one day of work. A few days before the planned delivery we received a call confirming the delivery appointment. Then two days later we were contacted by Sears to tell us that the dishwasher wasn’t in stock. They offered to deliver a few days later than planned but that wasn’t going to work.
So my wife hit Twitter and complained about Sears messing up the order but not to anyone speficially. Within an hour she received two different messages on Twitter from both the @MySears and @SearsCares accounts asking how they could make things right. The end result was that they were taking 10% off the order and were going to give us free delivery and takeaway of the old dishwasher. Near instantaneous service to create a solution. Unfortunately, we then learned that Sears canceled my wife’s Sears Card and instead opened up an entirely new line of credit with a Sears Visa Card. This infuriated us both to the point of cancelling the order with Sears and once again taking the issue to Twitter. This time they never responded, which I think was probably a wise move considering how incensed we were.
I have friends who have had similar experiences as well when taking to the net to voice displeasure.
Jeremy and his girlfriend Erica live near a restaurant called Beet in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn and decided on a whim to finally try it, especially after getting a 20% deal courtesy of Yelp. The service was brutally bad, the food was not delivered as ordered and to make matters worse, the waiter refused to accept the coupon. As a result, Erica posted a negative review on Yelp.
“The owner sent her a message through Yelp apologizing profusely for the service,” Jeremy said. “He was so appalled that he said he’d cut the said waiter’s hours. Little did we know what kind of reaction this would illicit.” What they ended up getting in return was a free meal. “The staff was attentive, the food was great, and they even provided us a free round of cocktails which we didn’t plan on ordering.”
Another friend, Gregory, was part of a group of folks who were in Atlanta attending DragonCon. A week before the convention they were bumped from the Hyatt Regency, a host hotel for the convention. Because of renovations the Hyatt was offering accommodations in the nearby Omni Hotel at the CNN Center. Hyatt would pay for one night and the Omni would extend a discounted rate for the rest of the length of the original reservation. They Hyatt also threw in free passes for MARTA (the Atlanta subway), free shuttle service from the Omni, and priority reservations for next year’s convention at this year’s rate. It was a great deal.
“My cage was rattled,” said Gregory. “I was worried that the consolation package would be miscommunicated between the Hyatt management, Hyatt staff, Omni management, and Omni staff. I wanted that deal in an official communication so I could provide it to the front desks.” He noticed the common response was to take it to Twitter but he didn’t have a Twitter account. He joined, sent a message to @HyattConcierge asking for a PDF of the consolation package.
“I got an answer within five minutes,” said Gregory. Later that day he had in his hands a complete list of the consolation package from a Hyatt Regency Reservations Manager.
Another friend in Milwaukee (who wishes to remain anonymous) was having issues with his cable. He posted on Twitter about it and almost immediately Time Warner responded.
“They had me add them to my follow list so they could direct message me,” he said. “They walked me through some trouble-shooting steps. It was seriously a matter of a few hours before we realized that my cable signal was just plain finally disconnected. It was incredible how fast and helpful they were.”
Last week I finally lost my patience in regards to a tree in my neighborhood that had some limbs and branches hanging precariously low to the ground for quite some time. So low that I would routinely have to walk in the street on the way to work on a busy Easton Road to avoid getting smacked in the face by a branch.
This tree was on the property of Sussman Honda, so I sent a message online to @SussmanAuto mentioning that their tree has been that way for a while and wasn’t just unsafe but also against township regulations.
They tweeted me back saying they would look into it. Sure enough, two days later on the way to work I noticed that my path was no longer blocked. They sent me a follow-up message that same day letting me know it was taken care of and I responded my appreciation in return.
We can take solace in knowing that issues big and small can get resolved when taking them online and shouting to the masses about our displeasures. More and more companies are creating social media accounts in order to cut off customer service issues as quickly and amicably as possible.
And more and more people are learning that if we’re not happy, Tweet about it.