Word of Mouth Tip #115: The faster you respond to angry customers, the quicker they become fans

When it comes to negative word of mouth, time is not on your side.

A quick response — even if it’s just to say you’re aware of the problem and are working on it — can go a long ways toward calming an upset customer.

That’s what UPS did when Andy Jankowski tweeted them about a near miss with a UPS truck in his neighborhood. Within an hour, he was on the phone with a concerned representative, talking about the issue and how UPS was going to make sure it wouldn’t happen again.

From his blog post about the experience:

When I arrived safely home I sent the following tweet:

4:20pm:@AndyJankowski: Near miss with @UPS driver while #cycling today. No worries – nobody’s perfect – but did make me think about going @Fedex 😉

What happened next was nothing short of a Social Media best practice case study.

Please note the times listed.

4:28pm:@UPSHelp: Yikes! We’d like to notify your local area. Feel free to email the incident location + contact info to twitter@ups.com.

So, I emailed them:

From: Andy Jankowski
Subject: Cycling incident
Date: July 23, 2012 4:50:14 PM EDT
To: twitter@ups.com

Hi,

Thanks for your kind response to my tweet (@andyjankowski). My near miss cycling incident happened today around 1:30 EST in the Echo Point neighborhood of Indianapolis. I swerved to miss one of your trucks that rolled through a stop sign. No harm done – I understand your drivers are under pressure to make quick deliveries. I have rolled a stop sign before myself. If you could however just mention to your drivers to keep an eye out for us road cyclists we would greatly appreciate it.

Best,

Andy

And they replied:

From: twitter@ups.com
Subject: RE: Cycling incident
Date: July 23, 2012 5:10:39 PM EDT
To: Andy Jankowski

Hi Andy,

Thank you for your email. That definitely doesn’t sound like a good situation. I have informed our local management team of what took place today. You should be hearing from someone within one hour to discuss what happened and so that we can make sure that this doesn’t happen in the future. I appreciate you bringing this to our attention and allowing me to respond.

Best regards,

[the first and last name of a real person] – removed as I did not ask for permission to post
UPS Corporate Social Media Team

I received a call less than 20 minutes later.

The person who called was extremely professional and genuinely concerned. They asked a few questions regarding the location of the incident, confirmed that they knew exactly who the driver was and stated that they would be contacting their supervisor and taking the appropriate action to ensure that such an incident did not happen again.

I am now a UPS customer and brand advocate for life.

Needless to say, I was blown away. I cannot remember the last time I have experienced a situation where a large company:

  • Paid careful attention to their (small) actions
  • Responded almost immediately
  • Showed genuine compassion for me as a person
  • Took full responsibility for their actions
  • Followed through and made changes to improve

That day concluded with the following tweets:

@AndyJankowski: Amazed by the responsiveness & genuine concern of @UPSHelp ! I tweeted an issue & received a tweet, email & live call in < 1 hour. Awesome!

@UPSHelp: @AndyJankowski Glad we were able to help! Thanks for the Twitter praise! @UPS

Now a week later, I am still blown away – which is why I have spent my Monday morning writing this post.

Read Andy’s full post here.

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Comments

  1. Andy Jankowski

    Thank you for the kind mention. I feel as strongly about this now as I did when it happened. This type of social media response leaves a lasting impression. What more could a company ask for out of its marketing investment? I welcome any specific questions from your community.

  2. Rahul

    Hi guys, thanks for sharing this amazing story. I agree: a quick response from a company that is interested and focused on your (the customer’s) experience goes a very long way to building brand loyalty.

    Another example: four years ago I bought an Ogio backpack from a local camera store. It was on sale, regulary $90+ but I paid $30. It has served me VERY well. It has the perfect size laptop section, and is a strong, reinforced, waterproof bag. It’s been all over the world with me. The zipper on the laptop section broke after 4 years of use. Rather than shop for a new backpack, I contacted Ogio via email, asking where I could go locally to get it repaired. All I was expecting was a listing of local businesses they would recommend I take my bag to.

    Instead they replied (same day) with a request for more details. Upon sharing with them that I had no sales receipt (4 years!), they scanned and emailed a prepaid waybill to ship the bag to them. I put it in a box and sent them my broken bag. They emailed me back in less than a week to indicate that they would like to send me a replacement bag, free of charge; and which colour would I like? I’m so happy with this result that I am only looking at Ogio for bags, and I’ll tell anyone who will listen to consider their good products and amazing customer service.

  3. Gary Smith

    This post is right on the money, and is a lesson I learned years ago. I run a small publishing company that sells downloadable employee handbook systems. I provide a “direct to the publisher” email for all customers to use. Once in a while, I get a complaint that a download has not worked properly, or that someone is having problems with the files. I usually respond within minutes to address (read: solve!) their problem. This results in countless positive comments about our responsiveness and the feeling “that there is a person behind the website.” Fast action works, whether through social media or plain old-fashioned email.
    gary

  4. Chris Picanzo

    As a social media manager I appreciate this typ of story! I can’t express enough to clients past and present that negative feedback / Reviews can in most cases be better than a good review. Good ones are great to see but when a negative one is handled properly the results are as such with this story. Props to UPS for being on top of things and I hope it can be a lesson learned to many business owners and marketers. Thanks so much for sharing WOM, that’s why your one of my favorite newsletters!
    Chris P

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