Social Media Can Enhance Your Customer Service or Not…

Guest Post by Amanda Weatherdon

Image courtesy of digitalart at

Image courtesy of digitalart at

I was shopping in a rather large department store recently and once I found what I was looking for I proceeded to the nearest customer service counter to pay for the item. Unfortunately, there was a line of 6 customers waiting. Since most department store customer service counters now do returns, the wait times are now getting longer however I didn’t expect this to be a problem as there were four staff members behind the customer service counter. Unfortunately that was not the case as three employees were folding clothing and only one was servicing the customers. As the lineup continued to grow, no one reacted and everyone kept doing exactly what they had been doing. No one jumped to man a register, no one called for additional help, nothing.

At this point I was extremely annoyed and customers around me were starting to make comments. I’m not much of a twitter user and you really have to do something that blows me away to get me to actually tweet you directly. This was one of those moments. I tweeted the company regarding the location of the store, the number of staff behind said counter and the lack of service at the counter.

What should have been done!

I think you’ll agree that the solution is pretty obvious long before the need arose for me to send a tweet. Once the staff realized the line was not getting shorter, they should have pulled one or two of the employees off folding clothing and hopped onto a cash until such time as the pressure was relieved and could have easily returned to the task they were doing. But alas, that never happened.

Missed opportunity

Social media is an extremely easy way of immediately interacting with your customers at “the moment of truth” when it matters most. It’s supposed to be a two-way street with real interaction not prepared script.

The missed opportunity, was as simple as a response such as “We’re on it, I’ll see what we can do”. Wouldn’t that be a novel response! Clearly this organization did have a full time social media person as the company did tweet back apologizing for the poor service and simply asked me to private message them so they could help. A canned response maybe?

What should have happened?

Following my tweet, home office should have called the location and made sure that the counter in question got someone else on the register. But that should have happened without the need for a Tweet, but we’ll save that for another time.

I’m sure the retailer has a hundred reason why that can’t be done but I’d also bet they can’t give me one reason why it should be done. At the end of the day customers live busy lives and the ability to get in and get out in a swift manner is crucial to customer satisfaction. You would think with the challenges facing department stores they’d be looking for ways to increase satisfaction levels.

So the choice is yours, if you’re going to engage your customer via social media, get real about it. The biggest difference today when a customer complains versus 20 years ago is the vehicle. Then, you got a telephone call or letter from a customer, now it’s broadcasted for all to see on social media, so you should have better answers.

Amanda WeatherdonAmanda is a buyer for a national retail chain has developed a keen sense of what customer service should look and feel like.

Copyright © Amanda Weatherdon 2014

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5 Responses to Social Media Can Enhance Your Customer Service or Not…

  1. Leslie Smith says:

    Thank you Amanda! I was at Yorkville Shopping Centre about a year ago and the exact same thing happened. I got into a huge fight with a very very rude clerk…after I suggested that she should have stopped folding clothes and served me. I would have simply not purchased the clothes…but I was with my sons and they wanted the stuff. Personally, I refuse to reward a company’s bad behaviour by purchasing items. I rarely shop in Ottawa any more because of the long lines. I never shop at Loblaws for this reason. I shop in Kemptville, Manotick, Iroquois, Prescott and even Brockville. I will drive far out of my way to find a friendly Staples (Kemptvillle). I visited the South Keys outlet and the clerk actually bumped a trolley of stuff into me, didn’t apologize and didn’t help me when I was obviously looking for something. I told the manager and got the usual ‘oh we’re so sorry, thanks for bringing this to our attention. Blah blah.” But who HIRES these people in the first place? People with HR degrees who are taught to ask prospective employees “Now what type of vegetable would you like to be” instead of “are you a human being who wants to help people?”
    I prefer my local tiny grocery store where prices might be higher but where most people greet me and say “How are you darling?” Yeah, maybe I am a bit of a princess, but gee, it doesn’t take much to make me feel like one.
    Thanks for letting me rant Greg and Amanda!
    p.s. Greg, you worked wonders for me! Leslie

    • Amanda Weatherdon says:

      Hi Leslie,

      Thanks for taking the time to read my post and share your own personal struggle with customer service – it really is crazy to think that some companies believe that kind of behaviour is acceptable at any point in time or just choose to ignore it. I would normally have made a comment as well and/or left the item at the counter and walk away but I was too far into it at that point and was at least going to get something I wanted out of it in the end.

      Thanks again!

    • says:

      My pleasure Leslie, I’m glad I could help. Greg

  2. DLK says:

    Good job Amanda . . . and my response would have been to leave my purchase on the counter & tell the other employees who were already folding cloths to continue the ‘good job’ – suggest they serve the customers lined up to buy their product (which gives them jobs in the first place) and then walk out.

    I had the same experience with Timmy’s . . and have boycotted them for almost 2 years . . as you can see, my actions haven’t hurt their bottom line – but, I tell everyone when asked to go for a coffee.

    p.s. I don’t tweet – hardly text ! !

    • Amanda Weatherdon says:

      Thanks Dennis! Like I mentioned in my other reply above – I was too far into just walk away and after all of that, at least I still got what I really wanted – but normally I do just walk away and they don’t deserve my money. It was definitely worthy of a tweet this time!

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