The banner offered a cracking discount on horse rugs just as summer turned to autumn and thoughts turned to colder weather. Having shopped with this company in the past, I clicked through and purchased several bargains. I was a marketing success story: the advertisement had reached the right person at the right time with the right product, driven me to their website and converted my click-through into a sale. Text book.
Unfortunately my user experience went downhill from here. After two weeks my order status was "being processed"; a phone call to customer services told me they were "waiting for stock". A disappointing email arrived saying they were no longer able to supply several of the items and two more weeks slipped away.
Frustrated, I visited their Facebook page to see if anyone else was suffering the same fate. I was stunned at what I saw: endless pleas for orders to be delivered; more posts asking what was happening; even more comments accused the company of removing posts which criticised the company for their poor customer service. As fast as employees responded to complaints more filled up the pages. Each time this company posted another offer, derogatory comments came in thick and fast. With over 30,000 followers, making up 5.5% of horse owners in the UK, this was commercial suicide. For several weeks I followed the developments with interest as rumours flew around equestrian forums that this company was in trouble; people expressed their dissatisfaction via every available platform. Even employees were complaining on their personal social media accounts about how unhappy they were with management.
Eventually my horse rugs arrived and they were great value, but my customer experience left a sour taste and made me wary of trading with this company in the future.
Before you launch your next social media offer:
- Test your processes by trialling a small test campaign before the big one
- Make sure the fabric of the company can support the projected increase in sales: do you have enough staff? Are stock levels sufficient? Should you set a time-limit for the offer?
- Put a Social Media Policy in place: don't let your employees run free: it's bad enough when your customers are complaining but it really fans the flames when your employees join in.
And if you have the misfortune to suffer an unexpected campaign issue, don't forget:
- Customer service IS the new marketing: In times of crisis don't ignore your audience: answer every email, phone call, post and Tweet, if customers feel you care they will be kinder to you and you won't alienate them
- Never delete negative social media posts, instead acknowledge them, make a genuine apology, take the conversation offline and offer a solution.
- If you go silent the rumour mill will start to turn
- It's OK to stop and regroup
- Your employees need to be kept up to date with the situation – keep the team on board
- You need to continuously review, analyse and learn from your mistakes.