“Back in the day,” if you wanted to make a complaint about a business, you’d call them or write them a letter. The entire process would take quite a while because after you mailed the letter, you’d have to wait for them to read it, and then hope for a reply.
These days, you can have a bad experience with a business and post it to Facebook, Twitter, and any other social channel you choose before you even leave the store if you want. And if you do that, hopefully you’ll be among the roughly 30% to garner a response. Quite frankly, not enough businesses are using social media in this way. The ones who are, however, are doing it very well.
Now, granted, “Wall of Shame” might make this sound negative, but these five companies are actually making great use of social media to deal with customer complaints, questions, and even responding to positive feedback. They’re committed to social media and their customers.
5 Companies Making the Most of Angry Customers
Dell does great things with social media when it comes to using it for customer service, and this has gained them a lot of attention. Check out their Facebook and Dell Cares Twitter accounts and you’ll see that their presence is strong. Though the customers are not always kind, Dell maintains a professional attitude when responding.
These are just a few of the examples of Dell responding to their customers. Being that they’re in the business of selling computers, you can imagine the volume of messages they get regarding their product. They make an attempt to reach out to those who need their help. Whether those people reply back or not, however, is up to them. Have you had a similar experience with Dell?
Bank of America
Bank of America is no stranger to controversy. Many people have mixed feelings about BofA since they received a bailout. They’ve been in the hot seat most recently for dropping business with McMillan Group International. There is some debate as to why, but many believe that the business was dropped because McMillan manufactures firearms (used by the US Military). Bank of America has been replying to tweets regarding the incident since, noting that the reason has nothing to do with the Right to Bear Arms.
McMillan released a statement saying that the termination had to do with its manufacturing of firearms, while Bank of America maintains that, while they can’t discuss the client’s specifics, that is not the case.
This is all, of course, not the only kind of customer service Bank of America deals with via social media on a day-to-day basis. Amie Marse, founder of Content Equals Money, shares a recent BofA customer service story:
I was recently assessed a $40 “research fee” from BofA and I called their 800 number and talked to a bunch of people hitting a wall. Extremely frustrating. I sent a tweet and got a reply within 10 minutes, plus two follow up phone calls, plus a refund check. It was awesome.
Back in 2009, before Domino’s Pizza even had a social media presence, they found themselves in the midst of a complete and total social media crisis. A few of their employees took a video of themselves doing really disgusting things to the food they were preparing and posted it on YouTube. It, of course, went viral.
Domino’s didn’t have a flawless response by any stretch of the imagination. Eventually their CEO released a YouTube apology, though many thought it was too late. But what’s important is that they’ve learned from their mistakes. Today they’ve heavily involved in social media, especially Twitter, and communicating with their customers.
Domino’s devotes a significant portion of their social media efforts to handling customer complaints (and responding to happy customers, as well!), thereby maintaining a positive vibe of caring for their customers. I love this last tweet above because it shows that Domino’s shows a dedication to customer satisfaction even though that clearly appears to be a joke request. Better safe than sorry, right?
You can see in the above example that Whirlpool’s reply seems to have diffused this situation to an extent. The customer was understandably angry, but seems to be pleased with the fact that Whirlpool replied to his concerns.
This tweet might be one of my favorites. I looked at a lot of examples of customer service in order to find companies and examples to feature in this article. One thing I noticed was that so many tweets and Facebook messages were in different languages, and those posts seemed to be largely ignored.
Not only did Whirlpool respond to the above tweet (which is, by the way, written in Dutch), but they also responded in Dutch. That absolutely floored me.
A quick Google Translate will tell you that the customer is unhappy with Whirlpool’s products, and Whirlpool (possibly making use of Google Translate themselves, but hey, whatever works!) replies by telling him to DM them some additional info.
And for the record, no, Google Translate is never flawless. But when you’re dealing with languages apart of your own, it’s a definite improvement over simply not responding at all (which is terribly alienating to your customers).
Lowe’s found itself in the midst of a scandal at the end of 2011 when it pulled advertising from a TLC reality show entitled All-American Muslim. Some groups threatened to boycott if Lowe’s provided advertising, while others threatened to boycott if they pulled it. Simply put, it was a difficult situation to be in.
And, of course, when people wanted to sound off, they took to social media to do so.
Lowe’s allowed comments to come in to their Facebook page during this time, but the comments became more and more hateful, offensive, and inappropriate. Lowe’s released a statement saying that they believed in full transparency as the nature of social media and would continue to allow comments to be posted, though if they were hateful in nature, they would be removed. This message has since been removed from the company Timeline, but you can read the entire statement in the article linked at the beginning of this segment.
Now, almost half a year later, Lowe’s has taken to social media in a big way to take care of its customer service. It’s replying to customer complaints and concerns on Facebook and Twitter. Interestingly enough, they even make it clear in their Twitter bio that they welcome complaints!
Again, I really like that in this example, the parties involved are quite pleased to see a response, which is very likely not what they’re getting elsewhere.
The truth is that every company is going to have complaints. There’s no way around it. You can’t change that, but you can change how your business responds. Right now, many of us are taking to social media to help customers through the funnel, nurture leads, and engage in content marketing. We know that it’s the space where we meet our customers, clients, and prospects.
Unfortunately, too few of us realize that meeting them there also means taking care of them there.
There are plenty of businesses who do a wonderful job of taking the negatives (complaints) and using social media to turn them into positives (awesome customer service). I also want to give an honorable mention to Kohl’s. I’ve personally experienced their quick and attentive customer service via Twitter, and they’re doing a great job in this space, as well.
What businesses would you add to this list? What is your experience with social media-based customer service?