Social media success story

Maybe you’re not convinced that social media is worthwhile. I can certainly understand that. I used to think the same way. I want to present a recent experience with a big box retailer’s member support to show you why you, as a company, should embrace social media. Maybe this will change your mind.

My wife and I shop at a local big box retailer. We established two accounts there back in February, 2004.  We have been happy with them for most of that timespan. However, events last year almost drove me to cancel our membership.

I usually pay our bills in person. I visit the local store and give them our two statements with two checks. Staff usually applies my check to my account and my wife’s check to her account. They have done this correctly for years. I thought this was a rather simple task for staff.

I was wrong. Last Summer, staff repeatedly applied both checks to my wife’s account. She ended up with credit balances and I ended up with past due balances, late fees and interest. This did not make sense to me. I worked with staff at the local store to reapply the payments correctly and remove the penalties. I thought this was a done deal. I was wrong.

On Saturday December 4, 2010, I visited the local store, filled my shopping cart with $188 of items and tried purchasing them. The clerk told me my account was closed. I visited the service desk and was notified that although my membership was valid, my credit account had been closed. She called their 800 number and I was informed that they closed my account due to a “business decision.” I hung up and went home.

I can make “business decisions” too. I decided to launch a Facebook flame campaign against them. How could the big box retailer close an account on someone who has paid his bills on time every month since early 2004? How could they close an account that has a $0 balance? How can they close an account on someone whose credit score is in the 99th percentile? This was downright stupid.

I sat at my computer and opened I thought: “maybe I can complain at their Facebook page and see if anybody there responds.” I found a product page for them and wrote my complaint. This was Saturday night.

Within two hours, a Facebook user responded and identified herself as a big box representative. She asked for my name, phone and membership number. She said someone will contact me within a few days.

On Monday morning, I received a call from another representative informing me that she will be assisting me with the credit issue I reported on their Facebook page. That afternoon, I received a call from a third representative who asked me for more info and then reopened the account. This call came in at 2:45. She reopened the account within 10 minutes.

The next day, the second representative called and asked if everything was settled to my satisfaction. I visited my local store that Tuesday afternoon, bought something on my credit account and reported that yes, everything was resolved to my satisfaction.

The big box retailer turned the situation around within one business day. I was angered by their credit agent’s stupidity and wrote a concise Facebook post showing how they angered a long-term member. Somebody monitored that page on a Saturday night. Somebody else responded further on Monday morning. Somebody else fixed the issue on Monday afternoon.

I am once again thoroughly satisfied with this big box retailer. Their ability to fix this situation made them a hero in my book. Their embrace of social media makes them a hero in this book.

I believe this answers the question: “will social media help me retain current customers”?

From Escape the Cubicle


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