Originally posted July 17, 2013
I was not one for social media until I got into it. I found Twitter really pointless when it first came out, but now I am a tweeter. Looking at the evolution of social media such as Facebook and Twitter over the last few years, I realized just how effective it can become.
Many businesses now use Facebook and Twitter as ways to promote their businesses, basically for free. Like them or follow them and you get a daily list of all the bargains they have going. But you can also use this to your advantage.
If you follow a store on twitter or like them on Facebook, basically everybody’s opinion is known all around. Before, in the good old days, if you had a complaint about a store’s customer service, you could ask to see the manager, who would listen to your complaint, and when you leave, would probably look at you leave the store with the employee you had the complaint about and have a good laugh at your expense. Or you could write a formal letter to the manager, who, if he or she were good friends or lovers with the employee, would probably roll up up your letter and toss it in the trash for target practice.
And then there is Twitter and Facebook. I recently went to a Whole Foods Market in Westport CT, and went to the coffee bar to get an iced coffee. Working behind the counter was a young man, with short straight brown hair, his tight hipster jeans low enough to reveal his red plaid drawers (as if I needed to know), and his signature white belt with its pretty design, with his back to me. Glancing over his shoulder, he looked back to what he was doing in the corner, then shouted “What do you need?”. What do I need? What happened to the days of How can I help you? or What can I get for you?. “What do you need” says a lot. It says that I am obviously bothering this employee and I am just a needy customer that is there to ruin his day.
I asked for a medium iced hazelnut latte to which he replied “You’ll have to wait. I have a lot of other things to do before I get to what you want”. At this point I would have walked off, but I wanted my damned coffee and it was too hot outside to sit in Westport traffic to drive the mile down the road to Starbucks. So I waited as he finished his washing up – yes, washing up, and then went to make my coffee.
“What size? Small?”
“No. Medium please.”
“Don’t have medium. Small and large only!” He said as he picked up and slammed the empty demo cups on the counter that obviously I was supposed to see and know that there was no medium, so why the hell was I asking for medium? What is wrong with me? Must be all the meds I am on.
“Okay, then I’ll have a small. Can I get sugar free hazelnut syrup with that please?”
“Don’t got it”
Don’t Got it? Where did you go to school kid? “Okay, regular hazelnut syrup then, but just one pump, and with soy milk please”
“You only get one pump. And don’t got no more soy”
Deep breaths, Basil. Deep breaths
So he makes my iced latte, slams the cover on it and tell me the cost. I pay. He huffs and turns back to what he was doing before when a woman walks up to the counter, and as I am walking away, I hear “What do you need?”
As I am walking out I pass the customer service counter and see someone there and decide to find out the manager’s name, and then as I walk up to the counter I see the sign
“Like us on Facebook! Follow us on Twitter”
And then it hits me! What is a company’s worst nightmare? Bad publicity. Especially a customer oriented retail business. So I stood in the store and I tweeted to them, and commented on their Facebook page “@WFMWestport Your guy today at the coffee bar needs a major course in customer relations. Shouting “what do you need?” with his back turned not very customer oriented. Also a very bad attitude dealing with customers. Hire some more friendly people.”
Sure did save the time and effort and expense of writing a complaint letter to the management. We’ll see if anything comes of that, but if I never hear from them, at least I know that there is a good chance that the 775 twitter followers or the 2,336 people that like them on Facebook would see my complaint. And although that is small, that is still bad publicity reaching over 3,000 people. And if they don’t respond, I am going to let those 3,000 people know that their management sucks too.
Yep, social media has its advantages.
Update: Actually Whole Foods corporate headquarters responded to my tweet apologizing for the issue and asked to to DM them about it. I did and the issue was resolved to my satisfaction.
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