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21 June 2012

The power of the @

This morning at 9am, I dropped my car off at the VW dealership. I had an appointment for 9am, and I told them I would back in a few hours to pick it up. Rather than wait for 90-120 minutes in a noisy and smelly (there is an odd smell in the waiting room there, and it gives me a headache) waiting room, I went to a puppet show and lunch with Q-Money and her momma. We had a fun morning and even hit the Farmers' Market (see previous posts) before returning to the dealership at 1:30 in the afternoon.

When I walked in to pick up my car, they told me that they hadn't even brought it in to the garage yet. I asked why, and they told me that since I dropped it off, it wasn't a priority. I was confused since I had an actual timed appointment at 9am, and I told them so. I also reminded them that I had told them I was only going to be gone for a few hours and would be back to pick it up. Again, they told me that because I had dropped it off and left, it wasn't a priority. I still didn't understand since I had made an actual appointment. They could sense the irritation in my voice (I'm not very good at hiding it) and told me they could get it done in the next hour or so. That wouldn't work since I had produce from the Farmers' Market that needed to get into the fridge. They then offered me another appointment at 8am tomorrow morning. I had no other choice but to take it since I need to go out of town on Monday, and I need my scheduled maintenance done.

Of course, as soon as I drove out of the lot I called the service manager and left a detailed message expressing my discontent. Of course, by the time I was home, I was still angry and still not satisfied. 

So I took to social media. 

I tweeted out the following:


Less than 30 minutes later, Volkswagen responded, asking me for more information, which I happily provided. Shortly thereafter, they sent me this:


Social media provides consumers with a much broader platform on which to voice complaints as well as compliments. I have used Twitter as a means to give shout outs for fantastic service as well as unsatisfactory service. Companies who use Twitter and other social media platforms have to pay close attention to customer complaints in these forums because they are public and reach a much wider audience than the traditional phone-call or comment-box complaint method. It's easy to ignore a phone call or brush a customer off in face-to-face situations. It's not so easy to ignore the consumer when the complaint has been made in a public forum. If customer service is important to companies using social media, they cannot risk having customers voice complaints without paying attention to them. 

No matter what happens with my complaint, I'm already happier with my VW experience simply because my complaint received real attention. VW has saved public face because their attempts to rectify the situation has been done in a public way, and they have made efforts to make good on the situation. I've also had similar experiences with Time Warner Cable, and good things came from that interaction as well. 

Social media gives consumers a voice that hasn't been there in previous eras. But that voice shouldn't be abused. When a consumer is genuinely and legitimately frustrated with service they have received, taking to social media is appropriate. Of course, people will always take advantage of any situation, but having social media as a forum is a wonderful thing.
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