Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Customer Service and Social Media

I recently had an experience with a national retail chain that had me thinking about the relationship of customer service and how a company uses its social media presence to solve issues.

Let me give some background.

The chain in question will remain nameless, but I recently had a rant on my twitter account if you are curious.  I will tell you it is a men’s specialty store, My son, preparing for his first prom, and I had visited the store for his fitting and rental.  When he went to pick up the rental, the tux was incomplete, the jacket was missing from the order.   The store clerk gave us a UPS tracking number and promised us it would be in the store the next day.

Before leaving the office to pick up the jacket the next day, I decided to check the UPS information.  The tracking number given was for the original delivery. Curious and suspicious, I thought it best to call the store first.  On hold with the store for 10 minutes, it did not surprise me that the store manager had no clue about the missing jacket.  Prom is the next day.  Second fail.

Next fail came when I had to ask the store manager the plan of action.  He promised it would be there the next day after I raised me voice to the next level.  Third fail. I asked how I would be compensated for my inconvenience after not being offered anything.  Did anyone teach these folks how to handle an angry customer?

Being a bit hot under the collar, I took to twitter and facebook to see if I could find anyone in corporate who could help.  I posted a disgruntled twitter note which posts to my facebook account as well with the company's twitter name.  I noticed their account was  pretty much inactive.  I posted directly on their facebook page, which talked about sports and had nothing about suits.  My reach after a retweet by a friend, about 2500 people in all. No response from their office. Fourth fail.

The story does have a happy ending after I called the corporate office directly (which took a while to find the contact number on their website).  I had an extremely competent customer service manager who helped get the jacket in time.

But, this was after I think the damage had been done.  About 10 of my friends asked me directly what had happened at the store.  Remember, not all social media happens on line. 

There was no direct answer from their marketing or customer service center, even after I had alerted the corporate office (I managed to talk to the head of North America's customer service) to the fact I had posted on their site.  How damaging was this to their brand, how many other people have reached out to them this way and it has been ignored?   

Remains to be seen but I did hear recently their stock dropped 15% the week after my tirade.  Coincidence?