Companies who have a social media pages or fan groups need to rethink their service policies. You might get away with poor service in the real world, but in the social media space it could go viral. Even worse someone could pretend to be managing your media for you.
Recently my Mum went to Dubai to visit my sister for Christmas. While she was there she bought an expensive walky talky set from Hamleys for my son. She paid 159 dirham for it, not a small amount in anybody’s books. When she got back to South Africa, we found that it doesn’t work.
She tried turning to their websites for recourse and wrote eMails to both the Hamleys in Dubai and England, to no avail.
Eventually in January she went onto the Hamleys Dubai Facebook group and wrote “I bought an expensive toy in Hamleys in the Dubai Mall while on holiday and now I’ve got it home it doesn’t work. I wrote to you but have had no response”.
Later she commented “I wrote to Hamleys in England but they won’t exchange it. What is your return policy for overseas purchasers? My grandson is so disappointed.”
Six weeks later she wrote “I would still like to know how to exchange the broken toy. Do you ever look at this Facebook page?”
In April she received this message from an “employee” of Hamleys Dubai on their Facebook group “U can not exchange it.” We thought that this was extremely rude and reflected very negatively on the Hamleys brand.
It used to be as a rule-of-thumb that unhappy customers would tell between three and ten people if they were dissatisfied. Between my sisters and I we have over two thousand “friends” on Facebook. That’s a lot of people who potentially have been made aware of this appalling service. Not only that, but all the members of the Hamleys Dubai group page can also see this interaction.
I went to the group, the same “employee” had posted “I love Hamleys”. I commented “You shouldn’t, look at how badly you treat your customers! See post below where you have ignored a customer who bought an expensive toy which was broken and you refused to exchange it. Hamleys Dubai should be ashamed of themselves!”
Now, there are three negative comments in a row on the Hamleys group.
One of my friends then pointed out to me that there was no group administrator and this might be a rogue group or an abandoned site, left over from the days before companies could set up Facebook pages. So I went into the profile of the person who had answered my Mum. From his photograph, he looks like a young man, may be even a teenager, from India. It is not clear whether he works for Hamleys, or whether they have outsourced their social media management to a company in India or whether he is just a (misguided) fan of Hamleys.
On his profile he had a link to the official Hamleys page. I clicked through and it was even worse. There was a deluge of comments about how unresponsive they are.
Here is a sample “I would be grateful is someone from this company would reply to any of the many hundreds of emails, calls or message that have been left for you in the last twenty four hours about your stupid idea of having live penguins in your hot and noisy store. You have removed all reference from your website but the public are not stupid and you can not just keep ignoring this issue because thousands of us are not going to let you. Oh and if you delete this I will just keep posting messages, emailing and calling until you put out an official response to this issue.”
There are some positive comments too, to be fair.
Social media is incredibly powerful, not only because of the sheer numbers of participants on line, but also because of the viral nature and the ease with which it can be shared, not to mention the risk of rogue curators who can manage your brand to your detriment.
If you don’t manage your digital footprint, you can be sure your customers will.
About Digital Bridges
Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create business cases, digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication and manage brand conversations with consumers.
Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia.
Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.
To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on firstname.lastname@example.org