Oh, the good tidings of a New Year. Just when we thought it was going to be a quiet final week filled with gingerbread lattes and post-family-get-together rehab, we had bestowed upon us what is arguably the worst Social Media Fail of the year. In a week filled with nauseating TV re-runs and over-saturated discussions about New Year’s resolutions, along came this remarkable, irresistible, nearly-impossible customer service debacle. You can’t write this stuff!
It started as an EPIC breakdown in customer service
A very kind, easy-going and well-connected customer sent an email to a company called N-Control, inquiring about the new gaming controller he’d pre-ordered and paid for. He was met with the most shocking, belligerent, obnoxious and rude response from a “Social Media Expert” who’d been hired to handle all the company’s marketing and PR. Various sites, including VentureBeat and PennyArcade covered the story well, including the posting of the now-legendary email exchange. As you read the posts, you keep thinking it’s the worst customer service you’ve ever seen…and then the next email response comes and blasts the previous outrageousness out of the water.
The story went viral. It was like a long, lit fuse of dynamite. The immediate fallout? The “expert”, Ocean Marketing, not only destroyed his reputation but also irreparably damaged that of N-Control and the controller’s creator. The Amazon listing was besieged by hundreds of 1-star reviews and reports of previous poor customer service began to surface. The Twitter account was assaulted. The YouTube account was overrun by dislikes and hundreds of comments mocking Ocean Marketing’s own unique use of the English language. Strangely, Ocean Marketing is acting glib about what is clearly a catastrophic end to his career. N-Control issued an exhaustive but authentic press release composed by their new PR/Social Media company. We’ll have to see how this plays out. You can’t help but speculate how you might handle a situation like this if it happened to your business.
N-Control apparently thought you could outsource customer communications using the “launch it and leave” mentality. Who knows how many more customers this person treated the same way? Nobody watches your interests like you. Dealers, you must get familiar with the basics of Social Media so you can tell the good advice from the terrible. It’s fine to hire someone to interact with and support your customer community but know the questions to ask and answers you need. And remember: you’re much better served if they’re well-trained and a member of your own team.
Bad service always gets attention
Successful Social Media means stellar customer service. Sonia Simone, of Copyblogger, says in her recent post: “Pay attention to what gets people angry enough to start throwing Social Media mud.” Avoid the catastrophe by paying close attention to your customer’s experience, online and offline. Listen to your audience, bypass damage and create a repeat buyer.
On any given day you can find hundreds of posts on Twitter, Facebook, Yelp and Google about bad customer service. Not so much about bad products. Why? Bad products can be repaired or replaced. A bad customer service experience lasts a lifetime.