October 5, 2022

Helping PR pros make smarter decisions

Why I don’t b*tch about stuff on Twitter

Why I don’t b*tch about stuff on Twitter

On a recent trip to D.C., I popped into the Talbot’s near a friend’s home. Armed with a gift card and a rewards certificate, I proceeded to fill up my arms and the dressing room before realizing that there was no way I could cram all of this new clothing into my itty-bitty carryon bag. The sales associate said exactly the right thing: “we can ship this to you for $6.” Done. I walked out of the store feeling oh-so-smart—I’d gotten some great deals and I didn’t need to struggle to figure out how to get it all home.

Days pass, and I’m wondering where my purchases are, so I give the store a call. It turns out a customer in Florida received not only her items, but mine too—with no documentation in the box. She was shipping it back to the store; they were waiting to see who would call reporting missing items. The store manager was as nice as could be and insisted that they would make this right. She offered to ship it to me either to home or elsewhere (win #1). My husband and I were heading out on vacation, so while it was a nice gesture shipping the items elsewhere would have presented the same issue that had me sending the items in the first place, so I declined that offer. Then, without me asking, she stated she would include a discount or coupon of some sort for my troubles (win #2). When the items arrived back at the store, Talbots adjusted the prices of the items that had since gone on sale, crediting my card—again, without me asking (win #3). I finally received my items yesterday. Although it has taken several weeks to resolve this issue, I’m pleased with the store’s efforts.

And this was all done without me taking my gripes to Twitter, or fussing at them on their Facebook page, or blogging about it (well, until now). Why? Because at every turn, Talbots executed great customer service.

As social media enters the “trough of disillusionment”—and I agree fully with Paul Gillin’s excellent post on this topic—companies are going to start wondering why they are spending all of this money on social media. I’d argue that companies can not and should not drop or even reduce the focus on their social media efforts. I would suggest that one way to save money is by empowering front-line employees to execute flawless customer service.

Yes, there will always be the misanthropes who will find something to complain about—and companies will need to monitor for, and respond to, them. But by addressing customer problems *before* the customers become angry and take to social channels, you’re certainly going to reduce the social media response load.

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About The Author

Jennifer Zingsheim Phillips is the Director of Marketing Communications for CARMA. She is also the founder of 4L Strategies, and has worked in communications and public affairs for more than 20 years. Her background includes work in politics, government, lobbying, public affairs PR, content creation, and digital and social communications and media analysis.

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  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Why I don’t b*tch about stuff on Twitter « Media Bullseye – A New Media and Communications Magazine -- Topsy.com

  2. info@shonaliburke.com'
    Shonali Burke

    Jen, I love that Talbots gave you such great service. As you saw from today's post, when I had a bit of an "experience" with Eidia Lush, I tried to reach to them via email first, and it was only after a few months when I felt I wasn't getting anywhere, that I resorted to Twitter to see if they would respond to me there. And that, really, is what started to turn the conversation around.

    Shel Holtz took to his blog yesterday to voice frustration over an incident with Microsoft: http://blog.holtz.com/index.php/weblog/hey_zappos… I think there are many of us who try to be judicious about using social channel to bash organizations, and it's only when we are really frustrated that we'll do that (e.g. my experience/communication with Pepco).

    Another example of making a customer feel good: you know that new makeup I ordered? When my "real" makeup arrived (I re-ordered regular sizes of some of the items in my initial sample pack), I was surprised to find an additional eye shadow, that I had not ordered. I emailed the company, asking if it was a mistake and if/how they'd like me to return it, and received a response saying that it was a gift. That blew me away; it wasn't even as if I was a long-standing customer (though I will be now), but it was that little gesture that really made me appreciate them all the more.

    If companies address customer issues right off the bat, they are saving themselves a lot of time, energy and yes, money down the road.

    1. jzingsheim@customscoop.com'
      Jen Zingsheim

      Shonali, I have to admit I did get to the point of complaining on Twitter about a company–once. My auto billing on a canceled anti-virus software was completely messed up, and after–no kidding–a dozen calls to the company, each documented in my trademark neurotic German way, I still had gotten nowhere. I fussed on Twitter, received a reply, and then…nothing. The matter was resolved a few days later, but I think some companies just need to stop worrying about social media and fix their durn customer service systems first.

      I'm reading Shel's post now–! Glad you had a good experience with the makeup company. Nice to hear the good reports instead of just the negative, which is why I wrote this post.

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