I have had a couple of personal experiences over the past few weeks that have really gotten me thinking about user/customer expectations for responses – whether to an email inquiry or a Tweet. With clients constantly working on getting these things right, it seemed worth writing about what I’ve experienced and the lessons I’ll be sharing with our clients regarding customer experience and expectations.
Case #1 – Something Really Fantastic + No Follow Up = Missed Opportunity
The most amazing thing happened last week – I returned home to find a voicemail from Wegmans Supermarket. Why was this amazing? Well, they were calling to let me know that some of the Plum Organics baby food we often buy was being recalled. They knew this based on our customer data (we have their loyalty card & use it every time). I was blown away by this and very thankful to have received notice of the recall before we might have fed potentially bad baby food to our little girl.
I was so impressed, especially since I work in this field, that I tweeted about it almost immediately:
I have not heard anything back from @Wegmans and it has been almost a week. It strikes me as odd that a company as on top of their customer data and interested in those relationships enough to call me about a baby food recall would not respond to my very complimentary tweet. In the world of Twitter, people tweet things because they want to interact. I’m surprised the social media team at Wegmans isn’t more on top of this.
In my mind, this is a real missed opportunity to have a public, direct interaction with a very happy customer. In the Reputation Management world, this is the holy grail! I realize that the group within the company responsible for the call about the recall are not the same people who manage or monitor the social media accounts, but it is surprising nonetheless. To be fair, if you look at their Twitter feed, they do seem to be active and responding to customers. Perhaps they just need better monitoring tools?
The Lesson To Be Learned From This?
Monitor your social media people – all the time! Be sure to monitor not just your feed, but also monitor mentions and hashtags that include your organization, top people and/or product names. In this day and age, you really cannot afford to not know what is being talked about around your brand in the social space. Especially if the talk is negative – it can go from a minor issue to a major fire REALLY QUICKLY.
Case #2 – Customer Issue + No Response = Unhappy Customer
If you’re a regular reader, you know that we have a baby girl (hence the item above about the baby food!). Once she got mobile, we invested in a play yard, or as we affectionately call it – “Baby Jail” to keep her safe and contained as she began exploring her world. Baby Jail has been a great solution for us, so much so that we purchased a second one to allow for more explorable area in the house. I noticed a few weeks ago that the latch on one of the gates was not catching properly and attempted to contact the company (as we only purchased the product in July of this year).
Here is what I found when I went to their Contact Us page:
What?!? Are you serious? WHY would you not fix this, or if for some reason you could not fix it right away, remove the form from the page! So, I called the Consumer Services number provided to talk with someone about the gate and try to get that panel replaced (these things, like so much baby paraphernalia, are not inexpensive!). I was told by the Consumer Services person that I should send an email to info@————.com and that if I did that, my issue would be addressed by people who had the authority to actually do something.
It seemed insane to me that calling the Consumer Services number provided did not, in fact, provide any service, but ok. I did as instructed and sent a brief email to the info@ address outlining my issue and requesting a replacement part for the less than 1 year old product. That was over 2 weeks ago and I have not gotten a reply. I checked their Twitter account to see if I might get faster results by tweeting them, but the account had but a single tweet from January of 2103.
The Lesson To Be Learned From This?
Customers expect to be able to get in touch with someone who can actually help them if they are experiencing a problem or are unhappy with your product or service. By not providing a way for a person to have their issue heard privately, you are inviting them to start talking about it publicly – either on Twitter or Facebook. You don’t have to have a 24/7 call center, but you do need to have a monitored email and a telephone number available for customers to reach you. Adding a form is optional – but if you do it, please make sure that it works. It is also wise to let customers know when to expect a reply. Satisfaction is most definitely a product of expectation.
Oh, and do not get these pieces right and drop the ball at the goal line by having the email replies you send come from an email that is not monitored! WHY would you do this? See my full rant on that topic here.
Bottom line – getting new customers is hard work. Keeping them happy and returning takes time, money and effort – but it is worth it at least 98% of the time.
What is your favorite customer service fail? What drives you nuts as either the business or the customer about these types of interactions?