Bettering Your Business Through Social Media

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….

Home Depot

  • 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.

Back in the Closet With You!

Oh I know what you are thinking, but I’m talking about that person that came out of their closet for a brief trip to the confessional. Everyone has a closet. Some are nice and neatly organized, everything labeled and sorted, and others…. their closets threaten to bury them when opened. So whether you take care of the stuff in your closet on a regular basis or let it get shut away until it becomes a threat to your health… get in there and make some choices about what kind of stuff you are keeping.

I’ve been a collector and clutter queen. I prefer to refer to those traits as “preservationist”, but no matter what I call it, there are some broken things that will never get fixed, and that I don’t have the skills to restore. I hate to throw those things out, but there is only so much space in my closet. Some people get buried by their indecision and their desire to “save” everything. I am sadly deciding that I am coming to the brink of that brook… perhaps not all have Caesar’s future changing mark, but perhaps that is what I fear the most… throwing out something that I will deeply regret in the future, that cannot be undone. And my closet becomes my Rubicon.

Eventually, everything must be faced, if not by us… then by our descendants. Now that is a thought that ought to create a pause, a “Selah”.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~no, this was not a post about literal closets~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Deregulate My Clothesline, Please

I had to read it carefully to see if it was a joke. I’m still not sure, since it is one of those far-out nutty things that people do, but it seems there is a move to ban clothelines, and a “right to dry” counter movement. The things you find out on Twitter.

Read all about it on the Project Laundry List.

I don’t know about you, but it just doesn’t make sense to ban something that saves energy. The people who love to make rules get wayyy too zealous. And nuts. Didn’t they ever hear about “sunshine fresh” clothes? No amount of fake chemical scent will ever replicate that special outdoor fresh smell of clothes hung out to dry on a clothesline. Even pictures of old city apartments with the lines of wash hung out, stories high, have a quaint virtuous look to them.

I just don’t get it… and I hope those silly regulations get repealed. And I think there needs to be an arts movement that helps reeducate the aesthetic sense of people… to enjoy and celebrate the beauty of the commonplace. Make the clothesline a thing of celebrated art- do your part. Do we need a celebrate Washday day? Hang your sheets to the wind Day? What will it take to insert a bit of common sense into the minds of people who obviously have too much time on their hands and too little to do?

Cindy Makes Sense On Health Care

I read a blog where I wasn’t expecting so much keen insight on the Health Care Issue… but here it is, Cindy’s opinion.

She had twelve very thoughtful points- here are a few:

4. Insurance companies need to stop putting conditions on what they will and will not cover. If they will pay for one well visit a year great. I HATE the fact that our insurance will only pay for a dietitian IF someone has been diagnosed with diabetes. Not for a person who’s prediabetic. HUH???

11. It’s not really the fact that I’d be against universal coverage if it really was universal. I am afraid that it will end up being a welfare supplement and I will be excluded because of my finances. It seems I always make too much money to qualify for any type of services.

12. The government has a way of goofing up a lot of well intentioned things. I do not want them running our health care system though I would appreciate more oversight pertaining to some issues I have discussed above. The way they run medicare and medicaid is going to make them run out of money. They need a better strategy.

Racial Politics

Today’s world is trying to walk a fine balance. We are trying to keep our civilized noses above water in the inundations of clashes between cultures, religions, and races. What is at stake is the hard won tolerance, true tolerance of diverse heritages and backgrounds, as well as appreciation of the human race as a whole. Evil takes its advantages wherever it can find them, however.

Once we came to a place in society where racial bigotry was seen as the insidious thing that it was, we entered a very short period of greater opportunity and equality… but as clamps came down to methodologize and legislate increasingly tight terms of behavior it has led to today’s hodgepodge world of trashed justice. We might be trying our best, but we are failing miserably. LaShawn Barber is well known for her posts pointing this out. But as politicking goes, the problem with trying to approach these problems of racial acceptance with mostly pressure tactics is leaving us in a situation of vulnerability to losing all the good and a freefall into gang mentality. If not actual gangs.

Our compassion without structured restraints of a society’s adherence to strong moral standards is leaving us in a vise grip of increased authority to corral increased advantages taken by the immoral. Without a core of strong moral standards in between it propels society into either chaos or tyrannical laws and leaders.

A free society has a lot to lose in this scenario.

Continue reading Racial Politics

Homeland Security Expansion

You may or may not be aware of these developments:

“A footnote attached to the report by the Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis defines “rightwing extremism in the United States” as including not just racist or hate groups, but also groups that reject federal authority in favor of state or local authority, reports the Washington Times today.

“It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single-issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration,” the report states.”

” The report, entitled Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment (PDF link) was leaked to the Internet a few days ago. It also equates gun owners with violent terrorists and states that radical extremists are “stockpiling” weapons in fear of an Obama administration gun ban.

The document characterizes concerns about the economy, unemployment, the loss of U.S. sovereignty and the move towards global government as “rightwing extremist chatter on the Internet” which itself is defined as a potential tool for terrorists to network, build bombs, and send encrypted messages to each other.”

– from a post about Texas Governor Rick Perry

I don’t know about you… but this strikes me as ominous. Aren’t all those conversation “flags” simply topics that need discussion and part of what an alert citizen should concern themselves with, in debates, protests, and political action?

People all over the US are feeling pretty insecure and gun ownership is one response. Visit any Walmart and you know that ammunition is disappearing off the shelves quickly. This is more than “extremists” – this is a serious disconnect between the present congress and administration and the American People reasonable concerns. It ought to be handled that way and not drummed into a “Homeland alert” status.

Unfair and Self Destructive

I didn’t vote for Obama- I’m going to be upfront on that, but this trend:“The populist anger at the executives who ran their firms into the ground is increasingly blowing back on Obama” is not just politics. It is about preservation of the USA. All of us. Our economic health is not partisan and it isn’t even a divide between immigrant and citizen. We ought to hold the fire under those who are the problem. We ought to all be part of the solution. Pressure AIG, surely bring pressure to bear on the executives who ought to go be pariahs until they are ashamed enough to do what is right: return their obscene bonuses. Or something.

But don’t turn this into a political circus… and don’t get on the wrong side of it.

You know there was an old story in one of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, it took place during a time of deep winter and blinding blizzards, when two young men risked their lives to get grain for their starving community. They understood the risk to be for their neighbors and family’s survival. The grocer who sponsored their undertaking decided that he was going to grasp this as his own personal windfall and hiked the price unconscionably high to the starving townsfolk. Just because he could. They risked their lives, he reaped the profits…for himself.

The irate reaction included the promised threat that for those who survived, there would be no patronizing this unethical man’s business. He was forced to back down -at least in the story. There is a certain strength in the voice and the power of the people so long as they keep their focus right. And it is this focus on the greedy individuals who have slaughtered our economy and its pensions and benefits for themselves… and continue to eat well off the carcass. Not President Obama.

Conservatives, don’t play the fool, stop making partisan hay while the barns burn down.