My son plays youth hockey, which requires spending a lot of money on equipment and uniforms. He and his teammates were excited about wearing their new hockey sweaters, which are fancy like the pros, with embroidered names, logos and numbers. But, when it arrived, it was extremely small. After squeezing into it, this thing looked like a tube top on him!
Turns out that among his 15 teammates, 9 of them got the wrong size! Major disappointment set in fast. Add to it a flurry of angry parents and coaches. With the first game only 10 days away, we discovered replacement jerseys would take 3 weeks to be delivered!
This is Unacceptable!
If you read my luggage revenge story, you know this meant the manufacturer we ordered from would catch hell from me. This is a small firm and reviews matter. So, I blasted them on social media with a 1-star review.
I was brutally honest, pulling heartstrings about how they screwed over an entire team of kids. After describing their business and customer experience failures, I vowed do everything in my power to kill off any future business for them with every sports club in the area, potentially inflicting thousands of lost hockey sweater sales.
Within 48 hours, they replied to my review:
“Hi Karl. We are sorry to hear that you did not have a positive experience ordering our product. Is it possible to share which store you purchased your product from, where you are located, and any information on the jerseys you purchased (and what happened) so that I can look into your situation properly?”
This was a good start as they did everything right. They read my review, asked me for details in public, and attempted to understand the issue. Therefore, I made the conversation private and sent them the details.
Within 24 hours they responded. They nailed it.
- They made a firm commitment that they were working on the problem.
- They accepted blame, explained how the original error was missed, and acknowledged its snowball effect.
- Their delivery time was a ‘conservative estimate.’ They didn’t want to be wrong twice!
- They avoided any mention of cost and made it clear they were doing everything possible to get the product to the kids before their first game.
- They provided me with a timeline for an update, openly thanked me for my feedback, and closed on a positive note.
I thanked them for their detailed response and candor. The next two days day came. Still no delivery. We arrived at the arena for our first game with the original sweaters in hand, ready to cut them up to make them fit if necessary. Just as the kids were getting dressed, their head coach walked in with two big boxes filled with replacement jerseys!
Hooray!!!!!!!!!!! The kids were thrilled, played great, and won their first game of the season.
I mean, look at that face!
I made it a point to send a direct message and relay my thanks for a job well done and send them the picture above. Then, I deleted my angry post and wrote a new review, reflecting the hard work that the company put forward.
A couple of days later I got a reply.
“Hey Karl, I hope that you enjoyed your weekend. Thank you for your understanding and for the update review. We really appreciate it. We are sorry again for the inconvenience caused by the sizing issue and are glad that we were able to resolve it for you. Thanks for the pic and good luck with the upcoming season.”
I was impressed that they read my message and my review. They were 100% on top of everything revolving around their business. All in all, it was an interesting, positive customer experience. So, I thought it would be good to break down how this company approached social media when it had been weaponized against them.
- They know what social media means to their business. Positive feedback and experiences make a big difference to their business model.
- They didn’t force a channel change on their customer.
- They didn’t shy away from a public conversation.
- They understood that articulating what’s happening is paramount to their customer.
- They don’t shy away from the hard realities of B2B2C businesses. They realize there is a customer at the end of the chain who though not your direct customer, is the end customer, and they matter.
- They were human, and didn’t recite from a script or a manual. They engaged with a real person from start to finish.
- They never over-promised.
- They didn’t mention the costs associated to fixing the problem, and never ever put the financial aspects of the business over the customer experience or their end customer.
- They enabled people to fix the problem, not hide it.
With the right solution, this technology gap could have been avoided. Of course human error can still creep into this. I recommend that through a unified commerce platform, and potentially an Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform, the order could have been placed without a human in the middle B2B. The AI could be used to validate the anomaly of 99% of an order being the same size, and flag the order for human intervention to help solve the problem.
If you act like this company did, social media is unlikely to be used as a weapon against your brand.