I blog, twitter, and facebook. Each has its uses, and a recent experience made me aware of how they impact a business.
If you read my garden blog, you might know that I have about four acres of property, close to three which need regular mowing. This is the height of the mowing season, and we had already replaced the hand mower earlier, but then the deck mower finally rusted out after 23 years (it was a John Deere brand). They sometimes say “bad luck comes in threes”, but two mowers breaking down at the height of the mowing season this year was enough for me.
We decided that we needed a machine that could mow this size property and navigate around the trees and gardens in a better manner than a tractor with a rear deck mower. A “zero turn” mower seemed like the solution, and after due diligence in researching brands, the ‘Toro’ was decided upon. Next came shopping the outlets for such mowers.
Home Depot matched the price and we purchased from their store.
The rest of the story….
That should have segued into a happy ending… but then I wouldn’t have a post centering around bettering your business and the part social media plays in that. The trouble started when the said “new” mower was delivered. My husbands habit is to be here when there is an important delivery… and so he was. The new mower arrived uncrated, and on inspections, was covered over in scratches and had rust issues. My husband refused it on the spot.
This mower had been used. By someone somewhere -and now was being passed off as a new product. That, right there, is what made me so angry.
I take a lot of sometimes poor service from a business. I chalk it up to someone having a bad day, or the luck of the draw, or that sometimes stuff happens, and I don’t like to make waves unnecessarily, but I have learned it helps to speak up. In this instance, the sheer dishonesty of sending off a clearly unsatisfactory product to a customer paying for a new item was just plain wrong. It was wrong for me, and wrong for the next guy it might be foisted upon.
The Power of Squawk…
So I used the power of social media to squawk my complaint. It isn’t that I don’t believe I couldn’t have gotten satisfaction another way (through negotiation by complaining to the store manager,etc). My husband was doing that, but my own goal was to hopefully improve the way business gets done, for myself and for other customers, AND get a quick resolve on the issue. Any midwesterner with three acres of fast growing grasses, a rainy May weather pattern, and no mower, knows my need for a speedy resolve in this issue.
But that is the benefit of social media for the consumer, not for the business. For the business, social media is like a big PR machine. You want happy customers talking about how great your business is, not magnifying your poor service and below par product.
This home improvement store should have had more quality control, because bottom line, it is a good buying experience and a quality product that is going to make me happiest, and to give repeat business. And blog, tweet, and facebook that happiness- besides the Yelp reviews, et al….
Lots of businesses are investing in hiring bloggers, professional social media people, etc. to promote their businesses, but if they aren’t taking care of the customer in the store- it is all waste of time, space, and money.
How it was resolved and the lessons of that….
- delivered a brand new, uncarted mower in reasonable time
- apologized both verbally, and in handwritten letter for the trouble and inconvenience
- included a gift card with the written apology
Those steps went a long way to assuage the anger, but I came across a business maxim that presents the lesson best learned by businesses in this post:
The bitterness of low quality is remembered l-o-n-g after the sweetness of too low pricing is forgotten
That is also true for the experience of feeling bunked by a business after they have tried to mop up the mess and attempted to make things right for the consumer.
As I remarked on my twitter account: people will RT ( Retweet, or multiply the message) a rant far more often than they will RT the satisfaction of the complaint.
Since my husband and I are also long time D-I-Yourselfers, and write a blog about the experiences of remodeling, etc. Home Depot would have benefited far more from just delivering on their goods and service in a quality controlled way, than anything that might have been gained from trying to unload a second rate piece of merchandise.
They didn’t know this customer blogged and twittered.
But now they do.
Businesses who pay attention to responses from their customers, or those of related businesses can learn about what is important to them and their customers. They can discover the priority of business practices without having their CEO needing to go undercover to find out how to improve.
And that is what makes social media a win-win for everyone, because I don’t want to rant and rave about poor service or second rate merchandise. I want to have a happy shopping experience and get my lawn mowed.
On the other side of it, people who relate within social media have responsibilities to be fair, and to try to better their world. I wrote about that at an earlier time, 5 Things The Web Taught Me