PF Weekly Reading List #17-Customer Service, Business Suicide And Social Media

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Customer service and business dealings have changed over the years where many now turn to social media such as Twitter and Facebook to vent frustrations both from a business and customers perspective. From a consumer’s perspective I know it’s likely only going to get worse instead of better, especially for those that feel their voice is much more powerful via social media.

The Good Old Days

There used to be a time where we filled out a “customer satisfaction” card at a restaurant or business, talk to a manager or simply make a phone call but these tactics are not as common any more. Now you can read the back of your receipt or bill and go on-line to leave and fill out a survey to leave the good, the bad and the ugly comments about the service you received.

Some people go as far as to Tweet a business that is not giving them the service they were  promised or the answers they need in a timely fashion. If a customer doesn’t receive the service they expected it’s important for business owners to know so they can improve.

Without this information it’s difficult to know what direction to take to make customer service better for the customers. How far is too far when it comes to getting your point across? Should business owners take social media call outs seriously? I’m going to answer that with a yes.

The Present

It seems like calling out a business is the way to get what you want these days, even if you aren’t in the right. Organizations scramble to save face, deal with issue that might have been overlooked or potentially give in to the individual to sort the matter privately.

Some have to go as far as to post a public statement to respond to these matters. Maybe it’s a wake up call for an organization that their customer service solutions centre isn’t quite working as well as expected and may need to be monitored more accurately or investigated for further improvements.

I don’t think we are ever going to stop people from using social media as hard as we try. We’ve created this monster, now we have to live with it. I’m a big fan of Marketplace and even they go as far as to bust businesses and get them to own up to their faults publicly so why not let the customers do the same if it gets their message heard.

The Business vs The Customer

No customers means no money for any business, it’s as simple as that. Where it gets a bit tricky is when business owners start fighting back and calling out their customers.

A Yahoo post I read yesterday cemented my feelings on this topic when a restaurant manager from the Padi restaurant in Delaware apparently took aim at Twitter to call out 3 customers. He created offensive postings and racist hash tags towards those 3 that left little or no tip.

I talked a bit about tips and restaurants a week or so back and I believe ultimately it’s up to the customer what they want to leave, if anything at all.

Business Suicide

Where I get confused is when someone who pours their money into a business would risk potential customers NOT wanting to do business with them for fear of reprisal via social media. I know it goes both ways and you are thinking, if the customer can do it why can’t we do the same?

Business owners have everything to lose a customer can go home and go on with their day as if nothing ever happened. One person who commented on the Yahoo article  posted, “this guy just committed business suicide” an interesting way to look at it, but very well may be true.

The restaurant has since offered an apology to their customers.

“We sincerely apologize for those actions, and want the community to know that those actions and opinions are not consistent   with our beliefs and values, nor are they welcome at our restaurant,” Teoh says in an open letter for customers.

“Those responsible for insulting our customers and members of the community will be held accountable, and that we are taking steps to insure that this type of behaviour never happens again”.

Why did they do this? Well my guess is because they have a vested interest in their business, and it may be their livelihood and it’s the professional thing to do. When owners sink their life savings into a business or have built credibility up over the years the last thing they want to see happen is the business die on its arse for having a bad rap.

As much as customers want to complain there are always the customers that are happy customers but certainly don’t want to get caught in the cross fire. Tipping is NOT a reason to upset customers either, it’s pointless, move on.

Sure, customers have nothing to lose when they complain but the reason they take to social media in the first place is likely for their money back, better service or an apology etc. When business owners, team members, management or employees start talking about their current or past customers on a social platform such as Twitter or even Facebook others may slowly turn around and walk the other way.

Customer service to me isn’t great unless, it’s so great you are willing to go the extra mile to let someone know you really appreciate them!- Laurie Linn (CBB Facebook Fan)

Customer Service

My parents owned a business  for years when I was a child and I don’t ever remember them going outside with a billboard (no computers then) saying, “Johnny x didn’t pay his bill” or “Jane x didn’t leave a tip” because customers expect you to protect their privacy as paying or in some cases non-paying customers.

Sure, they had customers that pissed them off, never paid what they owed or simply argued the toss about bills but they also knew that if they wanted to grow they would do whatever it takes to make things right. They didn’t need to be the big bad wolf  in these situations.

If all else fails you put their bill into the credit bureau, let them deal with it professionally and move on. Hatred, is a waste of energy.

They also knew that there are customers that you can’t do enough for them to make them happy. They certainly didn’t take the bad situations and turn everything upside down as there were far more positive reasons then negative.

If you have 1000 excellent customers and 3 bad customers why risk 1000 customers leaving because you get upset and call  out the 3 bad customers. Certainly the masses here outweigh the negative which any business owner should be able to handle professionally if they are a leader in their game.

Maybe customer service response cards are a thing of the past for some organizations and are now left to deal with social media, customer service and the present.

Are business owners committing business suicide by calling out their past or present customers via social media or other public means?

As a customer what do you expect from businesses and would you call them out via social media?

PF WEEKLY READING LIST

Here is this weeks reading list which includes some of the best blog posts from many blogs that I interact and comment on and who also have a common interest in CBB. I hope you all enjoy this weeks round-up. There are a few more than normal that I really enjoyed so I hope you enjoy them as well! -Mr.CBB

Recipes/Frugal Blog Posts of the Week

Homemade Panna Cotta

Top Recipe: My mate who blogs at Nurse Frugal won top score in the kitchen with her creamy Homemade Panna Cotta topped with Strawberries. Yes that is the lovely photo above of what she made and if you head to her blog you can see even more amazing photos of this dessert. You have to check out how easy this recipe is and how you too can Wow, your guests!!

The Frugal Farmer- I’m a big banana bread lover and often make my own but when Nana’s Banana Bread recipe was posted I knew I had to share it with my fans.

Inspirational/Funniest/Scariest/Motivational Post of the Week

Inspirational: The Daily Money Shot- 20 Inexpensive Ways To Be Kinder sometimes a little reminder is all we need.

Funniest/Scariest: A Magical Moment In The Life Of A Bee Keeper- Lil Suburban Homestead- Two words, Not me!

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Photo Courtesy of: (Bill Pad) Felixco Inc /freedigitalphotos. net

Mr. CBB
I’m from the UK and now a recent permanent resident in Canada. I bought my first house at the age of 21 after University then my second at the age of 24. I’ve always been fascinated with personal finance, savings, learning to make money and watch it grow while combating debts along the way. Canadian Budget Binder is a place where I get to share my experiences with personal finance and learn about yours along the way. I hope you stick around and check me out on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest where I am active on all social media sites. Cheers, Mr.CBB
Mr. CBB
Mr. CBB

Comments

  1. I’ve called businesses out before, in fact I paid one business $600 to help me sell my timeshare and it seemed as if they were not doing anything to help an wouldn’t return my phone calls so I put a blog article together talking about how the company was a complete scam and it ended up ranking well in Google and other search engines. So much that I got a phone call from their legal department asking me to take down the page. I agreed of course, as long as I got my money back, and it worked.

    • I don’t think this will be the last of the blog posts or the complaints via social media like I point out in the post, we created this monster of a way to get what we want and to call out businesses who may not be listening or are too busy to care. There’s loads of other reasons why but I won’t get into it. The scary part is not the customer part because in your case you had nothing to lose the organization did otherwise the legal department wouldn’t have contacted you. Should businesses take the same steps as the consumer and call the customers out publicly?

      • They could but I feel it would reflect poorly on the business. As a business owner myself I wish I could do this. One way to do this is kind of like some of the business in my area here in Ohio will do and that is if someone writes a bad check they will put their name up on the wall for everyone to see so they know that these people are not paying their debts.

  2. As both a business owner and a consumer, I feel the internet is not the place. If there is a legitimate issue that requires serious attention, deal with it in the courts! Remember, you are liable for any derogatory and inflammatory comments you make unless you can satisfy a court of law as to their validity. If you can, why not take it to the appropriate venue in the first place. :-)

  3. I have done my fair share of ranting online. I only do it after I speak the the business like normal to get the issue resolved. The problem is that some businesses think they are either too big or don’t understand the power that consumers now have. In one swoop, I can dissuade thousands of customers, when before I probably could only leave a bad taste in a few customers’ mouths. I pick my battles online.

    Many businesses don’t understand social media and when they leave stupid comments on social media, they have no idea how bad they can make it for themselves. If you wouldn’t say it to a customer, don’t say it on social media!

    • That is true and although the customer side of it will always be my concern is how business owners are fighting back and how they may end up committing business suicide because of it. The consumer has nothing to lose.. the business owner has plenty.

      • That’s not true Mr CBB… you can get slapped with a whopping big lawsuit. I am personally aware of a company that did just that with someone that ranted and raved on FB. Cost that individual big time… in legal fees, court costs and the actual award for damages!

      • With regard to your comment, “The customer has nothing to lose,”… I say that’s not true Mr CBB… you can get slapped with a whopping big lawsuit. I am personally aware of a company that did just that with someone that ranted and raved on FB. Cost that individual big time… in legal fees, court costs and the actual award for damages!

        • I suppose you are correct Mary, thanks for pointing that out if the customer goes on a rant that is far more than a simple social media complaint which I was leaning towards I guess. I think that customers will continue to use social media as a platform to get their point across but how they choose to do it could either land with positive results and like you mention if it turns sour, in court. It’s too bad though that many people don’t really care about getting sued. I guess until it actually happens is when they feel sorry.

  4. “Hatred, is a waste of energy.” So true, Mr. CBB. We live in a different world. As a consumer, I always try to resolve any issues privately with the business. But, if that didn’t work – I would definitely consider tweeting the company to see if that makes a difference. I know many large companies actually have customer reps that work specifically via twitter to handle problems and my understanding (admittedly not very thorough) is that they do a better job because it’s public. As a business owner, I may not like this side of social media where a person’s rant could destroy my business. But I also try to treat my clients with courtesy and respect so it never gets to that point either! :) I do think it’s incredibly stupid of business to call-out customers via twitter. Especially for not leaving a tip. I understand that waiters may rely on those tips but name-calling and pointing fingers is probably going to get you fired in a very public way.

  5. On two occasions as a last resort I’ve called out 2 companies, and it was amazing how prompt service became after I did that! Goes to show you the power of social media.

  6. Mr. CBB ha ha I love that you have us listed under Scariest/Inspirational…..you absolutely made my day!!!! :) Have a fabulous weekend! I always enjoy your posts never a dull moment at Canadian Budget Binder.com…..;)

  7. As a business owner there is no way on earth I would call out a client on social media. I might as well just close up shop if I were going to do that. I have never called a business out on social media before, though I am not beyond it. It’s the name of the game these days and given the right situation I might…but it must be tasteful.

  8. Christine Weadick says:

    If I have had issues with the way a business is doing business I will give them first shot at correcting that problem. I call them on the phone and give them a chance to get their side out to me. Those online surveys do work, by the way, any time I’ve said anything remotely negative or discribed a problem I’ve had with the store I get a phone call with in a day or so about the problem and what can be done to correct this issue….. I’ve had them bend over backwards to help me after I filled out one of those surveys………….

  9. On line or off, the rules pertaining to good customer relations remain the same: Keep it courteous, keep it positive, keep it polite. If anything, one should err on the side of caution since it is so much easier to misinterpret the tone of written words than it is to misinterpret face to face conversation. Ultimately the goal of any business is to put on their best face. It’s okay to politely stand your ground and make your point. It’s not okay to publicly spank folks because they’ve angered you. You wouldn’t do it face to face. Don’t do it on line.

    Rant officially over now. ;)

    Thanks for another great week Mr. CBB, and a good weekend’s reading list.

  10. I think that’s very unprofessional for a business to call out customers. Going negative rarely gets you anything other than high blood pressure and lost business. You’re so right that you need to concentrate on your 1000 good ones and let the 3 bad ones go, although it’s human nature to remember and dwell more on the negative. Thanks for much for including me in your list!

  11. Thanks for including Nana’s banana bread – she’d be so happy to know people are loving her yummy bread. :-). Mr. CBB, your comments about businesses are spot on. We as a family will generally not go back – ever – when we have a bad service experience that is handled with a “tough luck” attitude, and we’ll tell friends and family about it as well. Customers generally tend to be forgiving if you screw up and do your best to make it right, but if you as a business handle the problem with heard-heartedness, your chances of retaining that customer are pretty minimal, in my humble opinion.

  12. Thank you for mentioning Ben’s post mr CBB!

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