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Tag: response time

A couple of weeks ago my family ordered pizza from Domino’s.  Since they’ve improved their recipe, we order pretty regularly.  We enjoy things like the ability to order and pay online, track the delivery online, and the fact that the pizza normally arrives in under 30 minutes.

However things were not so happy the last time we ordered.  Wanting to beat the dinner rush, we ordered about a quarter to five.  That meant that our three children would eat at their normal time, and our evening could go on as usual.  We paid online, used the online delivery tracker, same as always, and our pizza was shown as out for delivery in the normal amount of time.

And that’s when things went wrong.

It was nearly an hour and a half, and 3 phone calls later, that our pizza finally arrived.  Cold.  When I called, I got different stories about why my pizza had not yet arrived.  Finally, on the 3rd call, I asked what they were going to do to make this right.  My kids were hungry!  And they offered me free cheesy sticks.  On my NEXT order.  FAIL.

20 minutes after that call when my cold pizza arrived, the driver didn’t even apologize.  Worst. Customer. Service. Ever.

In frustration, I tweeted to Domino’s from my husband’s Twitter account.  I expected at least an apology.

Nothing.

Thinking that maybe they decided that my husband’s account wasn’t “influential” enough for their notice, I tweeted from my account the next day.

Still nothing.

And that leads me to the moral of this story.  I have still not ordered again from Domino’s, and am not sure I will.  I’m also sharing this unfortunate experience with you, which may cross other people’s minds when they make pizza purchasing decisions.  There are certainly other options when it comes to pizza.

But what truly baffles me is WHY Domino’s has a Twitter account if they don’t plan to use it to respond to customer concerns?  If your company has a Twitter account, please understand that customers (especially the unhappy ones) will EXPECT to be able to reach you on it.  Is your customer service department trained in Twitter, and prepared to address issues that are shared?  You do realize this is public, right?  That other people can see when issues go unresolved? And people tend to get louder when you ignore them.

Burying your head in the sand or pretending that unhappy customers don’t exist won’t make them go away.  It will just make them more upset.  And then they may take issues that could have been resolved with a simple “we’re sorry,” and turn them into PR nightmares.

Domino’s has already had its share of PR nightmares.  You would have thought they learned their lesson the first time.  Apparently not.

UPDATE: This PRSA story discusses how Domino’s approached their PR nightmare. It was shared with me on Twitter. You may find it interesting.  I think that it will be interesting to see who is ultimately responsible for customer service in multi-distributor brands like franchises and direct sales companies.

Don’t make the same mistake.  If your company has a Twitter account, you need to be prepared to service customers there.  It’s not all about you talking.  It’s about listening, and resolving issues.  People want to be heard.  Are you listening?

Update 2: Domino’s has seen this article on Twitter, and responded.  They have now opened a customer service ticket and referred it to the independent franchise owner.  In my opinion, this should have happened the first time, and not necessitated a blog post.  This should be standard customer service.  What do you think?

image credit: didbygraham

Jennifer Fong

Jennifer Fong helps direct sales companies leverage the power of social media marketing to increase sales and recruiting, and manage online brand perception.  She provides strategic social media consulting to companies, as well as conference speaking and training. To learn more about how Jennifer can help your company, visit http://luceandassociates.com/Jennifer-Fong.html.  You can also check out her direct sales and social media blog at http://www.jenfongspeaks.com, and her Facebook Page at http://facebook.com/jenfongspeaks.

The viral nature of the internet can be a wonderful thing.  Messages about your company can spread far and wide, resulting in new consultants and higher sales.  But that viral effect can be a double-edged sword.  Because if someone has a bad experience with your company, or one of its consultants, that can have a devastating effect on your company’s reputation, and its ability to recruit.

We saw this very thing happen to United Airlines when they broke a musician’s $3,500 Taylor guitar, and then refused to pay for it.  Google “United Breaks Guitars” and you’ll see a remarkable string of posts that have preserved this rocky patch in United’s history forever.  If United had had a strategy in place to deal with such situations before they became viral sensations, they would have been much better off (and you can bet they do now!)

This past year we saw a member of our own industry, Arbonne International, manage this quite well.  When the company went through a debt restructuring, it could have been very easy for negative information to fly, causing many of its distributors to flock to other companies.  But the company took a pro-active approach, creating a company blog as part of a larger communication strategy that kept distributors informed, and helped the company weather the storm.  Now this is but a far-distant memory that the company has been able to put behind them.

Does your direct sales company have a plan for when disaster strikes?  We all know that the information that the salesforce sees and consumes is essential when it comes to managing crisis.  What should you have in place ahead of time to be prepared?  Here are some tips:

  • Create an escalation procedures document. Make a list of “worst that could happen” scenarios, and who is authorized to make a public statement.  This will save you hours of meetings trying to decide who should take care of the situation, while it spirals out of control, and makes it very easy for the person who spots the issue to quickly route it to the correct person, no matter what the hour.
  • Create a “24 hour statement” for each issue you identify. This is a standard response that can be made in response to each of the scenarios you identified, so the company looks responsive while you’re crafting a more specific company response.
  • Have “community ambassadors” within your corporate structure. These are folks who work with influencers in the online communities most important to you.  When a crisis arises, chances are these influencers will reach out to the person they know and trust in your organization, for your side of the story.  This means these influencers are a lot more likely to provide a balanced view of the situation.
  • Create a culture that admits when you’re wrong. Transparency and authenticity are DEMANDED in social media communities, particularly when things go wrong.  Be sure the employees in your organization are able to admit it when you’re wrong, and empowered to fix it.
  • Have a place for your official corporate response. This is typically a corporate blog.  If the issue is big enough and mainstream media picks it up, they’ll have a place they can go that provides the official corporate response.

By planning before crisis hits, you can more effectively manage online crises before they go viral.  And if you handle them well, you might even get some positive feedback from the online community.  It all starts with a plan!

image credit: Jim Linwood

Jennifer Fong

Jennifer Fong helps direct sales companies leverage the power of social media marketing to increase sales and recruiting, and manage online brand perception.  She provides strategic planning consulting to companies, as well as conference speaking and training. To learn more about how Jennifer can help your company, visit http://luceandassociates.com/Jennifer-Fong.html.  You can also check out her direct sales and social media blog at http://www.jenfongspeaks.com, and her Facebook Page at http://facebook.com/jenfongspeaks.

image credit: jurvetson

In my last two posts I talked about how proactive outbound calls and Customer Service should ALWAYS be the last approval of ANY communication going to the field. So what’s next?

Respond to each inquiry within 24 hours. Whether that inquiry is by email, voicemail, twitter, facebook, etc., respond within 24 hours. The response doesn’t have to be the answer to the inquiry but it has to be a response. Ideally it is the answer, but if it’s not that’s okay. At least the customer knows their message was received and is not being ignored.

The response can be something as simple as “just want to let you know I’m verifying the information you requested.” The Customer just needs to know he/she is important to you, that your received their inquiry and you’re working on getting an answer.

It really all boils down to having a process, and making sure everyone follows it. Part of this response process should be that EVERY Customer Service Representative should be able to answer the inquiry. You don’t want the customer to have to explain the situation with each contact. In order for every Customer Service Representative to answer every inquiry, some processes may have to be implemented.

  1. Record EVERY inquiry in a program or system that every Customer Service Representative can access and update.
  2. Cross train all Customer Service Representatives on all aspects of the business. This is ideal, everyone in the Customer Service Department is an expert.
  3. Direct calls and emails to specialized groups (orders, compensation, promotions, etc.). These groups would be identified by the most frequent inquiries from the field. However, it would be best if EVERY Customer Service Representative can answer every inquiry.

Each of the processes will enable immediate response to inquiries. However, if the response is not immediate, be sure to contact the Customer within 24 hours of receipt of their inquiry.

Obviously, when customers contact Customer Service, they’re looking for answers. But people understand answers can take time. So the first thing you should always give your customers when they ask for answers is, A) the assurance they’ve been heard and B) someone is doing something about their inquiry.

Chris Clark

“Chris’s work for us is highly strategic, always thorough and never formulaic.  She also provides a welcome touch of humor and grace.” Learn more about how Chris can help your company at http://www.luceandassociates.com/Chris-Clark.html