An Ounce of Prevention

by Simone Grant

This isn’t a post about working with brands, or blogging or any of the things I do to earn money. Not really. Instead, I’ve got a little story for you about a few brands that I had the pleasure, or lack thereof, of interacting with via social media recently.

Like many consumers, I use twitter and facebook (mainly twitter) to let brands know what I’m thinking. A while ago I had an amazing customer service experience with a large national brand (let’s call them Brand A). I’d called them with a question about a return and the person who handled my call was professional, efficient and went out of her way to get me additional information. I was overwhelmed by her kindness and tweeted about it.

A follower replied that she’d had a similarly good experience with the same brand.  And then we shared, in an extended twitter conversation, that we each had received surprisingly poor service from a brand owned by the same corporate parent (I’ll call it Brand B). And that it was disappointing.

Skip ahead 5 minutes and I was immediately contacted on twitter by someone at Brand B. They asked me to email them and even wanted me to follow up with the district manager with details about my poor customer service experience.  I gave them details (store, story, etc) and said I didn’t want to take it further. And then, since it was the same corporate parent, I asked them to please follow up, if they could, and get a message to the district manager about the amazing service I received from Brand A (and I mentioned the store and employee by name). Good work should be noted and rewarded.

A couple of weeks later I found myself on twitter again, badmouthing a brand. This time I was furious. I’d received a delivery of damaged merchandise and when I contacted them via phone the customer service I received was beyond pathetic. So I tweeted. I immediately received a tweet, then a DM, then an apology email and finally the company expedited replacements for the damaged merchandise.

So what’s my point, if I have one? Well, (some) brands seem to be a lot more responsive to tweets than to calls nowadays. Which is a shame.  And so much of what passes for social media work by brands seems to just be damage control, rather than meaningful interaction with genuinely enthusiastic fans. Another shame.