Customer service via social media: my weird yet positive experience

This week I had a weird, yet awesome experience. I had heard of businesses using their social media outlets as an extension of their customer service, but I had never heard of anyone who had experienced that. Let alone, that I myself, experienced it. Until now. Here’s what happened.

I’ve been on the hunt for a good, solid strapless bra for years. I am well-endowed in the chest area and finding regular bras can be a feat. Strapless bras are worse. In fact, I didn’t own one until last October. That was when I decided to go to Hunkemoller, a large lingerie chain store in the Netherlands. I hardly buy anything there, just undies, because their bras just don’t cut it for me and after finding my holy grail at Victoria’s Secret I hadn’t considered their bras for one second. This time I was on a mission though and since the fit of a strapless bra is the most important I didn’t want to buy something on a whim online only to find out that it won’t fit. Returning items to Vic’s Secret is a costly endeavor.

Lo and behold! I found the perfect one. After trying on what seemed like 10 different ones, the store clerk took one out and it fit like a glove. Not only that, it stays put, offers enough support and it’s comfy. So the other day I decided I wanted the same one but in a different color. I went to the store, but they had nothing there. The model was discontinued. I spewed my disappointment on Twitter:

Translation: Darn! For the first time in your life, you have finally found the perfect strapless bra and Hunkemoller discontinues it! Grrr.

I just posted that, no @, no RT, I don’t even follow Hunkemoller on Twitter. I wasn’t thinking anything of it, but the next day I received this message:

Translation: Hi @indiequeen84, could you tell us which strapless bra? Maybe we can do something for you. Love

I didn’t ask them for help. I didn’t say I wanted to try to find it anywhere else. Yet, they were offering me their help. I took a picture of the bra I already have, send it to them and they replied asking me to send them an email with my zip code so they could find out whether the bra is still sold anywhere near me. And they did. In a matter of three days, I went from being frustrated to being given a list of places where they still sell the bra (in my size too may I add) and the message that they would be coming out with a new one soon.

At first, I was quite baffled by this. But then I remembered reading that business have started to use social media as an extension to their customer service. What they basically do is scour Twitter and Facebook in search of customers with negative experiences after which they offer help to solve the problem. It’s part of their strategy for managing the company’s image and with that a marketing strategy. See, the fact that I am now telling people (in real life and through this blog) about this experience is good for the company.

However, this also brings me to another point. How far do the messages you send via social media spread? Isn’t it a weird idea that anyone, anywhere can now just read my messages? Who reads them? When do they read them? And are those people the kind of people I want reading my messages?

I think that many people using social media often don’t think about this. Remember, my post didn’t ask Hunkemoller to do anything about the problem and I didn’t send the message to them directly. Yet, they responded. This means that what you post could end up in anyone’s hands. This can be a positive thing, like my experience right now, but it could also be a negative thing. Your parents might see things you don’t want them to see, or your boss, or your partner, or whoever. All I know is: it’s very clear to me that it has become a whole lot harder to keep secrets when you’re using social media. Especially with Facebook having the obscurest privacy settings and the spreading of messages in general not being under your control anymore gives me a bit of an uncanny feeling. It’s like the world is really becoming more like Orwell’s Big Brother from 1984.

Think about it. Posting online gives companies, governments and anyone else you don’t want looking into your business, just that: a look into your business and the potential ability to use that information to your benefit, but potentially also to your demise. It makes for targeted commercials and advertisements (I’m down with that I guess), help from companies, the ability to find a job or sell your house, but it also creates a setting for controlling your every move or at least keeping tabs.

What about you: do you find it unsettling that whatever you write online (including this blog dare I say) is out in the open and up for grabs for anyone to do with that whatever they like? Or don’t you worry about this at all and you will just see what happens when it happens? I am also curious to know why!

17 responses to “Customer service via social media: my weird yet positive experience”

  1. If you are going to be worried about everyone being able to read it, it would be stupid to have a Twitter or even a Facebook. I always find it a bit far fetched when people expect to have “privacy” when they are the ones putting their business out in the open for everyone to read.

    I have always been really careful with what I say online. I know that anyone could just read it and I just keep this in mind with everything I post. My thoughts are: if you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t put it online. Unless you’re the kind of person that pretends to be tougher online than you really are online 😛

    • Exactly! You have to watch out what you say at all times anywayz. I just thought it was eerie that even though I hadn’t asked about it, a company just decides to ‘help’ me. If I really wanted to, I could have also sent them an email or called customer services to track down that bra.

  2. I am somewhat free with what I put online — the only exception is where I live (though enough hints are there) because it’s not a huge town. I do think it’s weird to put your phone number up on Facebook, though.

    • Totally agree with the phone number thing. And yeah, I do say in which town I live, but it’s not like I will give away my exact street or anything.

      • I can’t wait to move to the Hague. There’s so many people who live there that it won’t matter if I say where I live (well, and it’s the name of the blog!)

      • About a week before Christmas (target date is December 18). Probably not the best time to move to Europe weather wise, but I am staying a bit longer at my job (academic librarian). It’s a bit easier to start a new hire in the Spring than in the Fall, which tends to be crazy.

      • Ah ok, so you’re not in Europe right now. And the weather here is fickle. In 2010 we had a bunch of snow around that time, last year: nothing. So you never know. If it turns out to be a typically Dutch weather it’ll just be raining.

    • Yupz. But there are people who don’t realize that. Hence all the reports of people getting fired over calling their boss names on their FB accounts etc.

  3. Is jouw twitter privé? Dan zou ik het ook naar vinden. Als je twitter openbaar is kan sowieso iedereen alles lezen wat je post natuurlijk, zulke bedrijven hebben gewoon een google pulse die elke keer alles omhoog gooit waar zij in benoemd worden, als het van belang is antwoorden ze. Bepaalde bloggers doen het ook, elke keer als hun naam wordt genoemd krijgen ze een pulse.

    Leuke blog trouwens, ik zzit een beetje artikels te lezen en wou hier even op commenten 😀

    • Nee mn twitter is openbaar en ik wist idd dat bedrijven dit soort dingen doen alleen had het nooit meegemaakt. Vroeg me af of anderen hier wel bij stilstaan.

      Bedankt voor je complimentje op mn blog.

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