By: Anthony Vespucci
The Cliffnotes answer is an emphatic Yes, but here’s a story on how:
I recently purchased a home which met all criteria but had one drawback; a small garage and a desire for us to have one car in it. Solution: Purchase a large enough shed to hold anything that we would otherwise have to leave in the garage.
We identified the shed we wanted and went out to our downtown area, which contains both a Lowes & Home Depot, to make the purchase. Simply due to distance, we went to Lowes first. Upon speaking with the appropriate sales person we were told that they do not have any in stock and weren’t expecting any for several weeks as it was a “hot item” that they sell out of quickly. Having one of my friends already on the hook to come down and help put it together (the shed we wanted is delivered in pieces) the following weekend, this posed a problem for us. With that we got in the car and drove off to Home Depot.
To our delight, Home Depot had the shed and was able to have it delivered the following day, a Monday. Needing to be home to direct them where I’d like them to drop this massive box that would be coming, I asked and was told an afternoon delivery would be possible and that they would call me ahead of time. I also had them put in their “special instructions section” to please call me as far in advance as possible as I would be leaving work to head home once they called.
Monday rolled around and being the nervous person I am made sure every time I left my desk I had my cell phone in hand awaiting the call. Finally around 3:30 a call came in from an unknown number who turned out to be Home Depot. Upon picking up I was taken aback by the fact that the person on the other end was from the store and not the delivery service. The “manager” proceeded to tell me that my shed had already been delivered as the delivery company called me several times but I didn’t pick up. Knowing the above and the fact that my entire office is in a great service area for my carrier, I told him that I didn’t have a single missed call and that wasn’t the case. He said he was sorry but the sheds at my house and there’s nothing they could do at this point. Goodbye.
Extremely annoyed at this point, I drove home. What I found next, brought that annoyance to the next level. Upon pulling into my driveway, I was met with a gigantic 200+ lb box sitting smack dab in the middle of my driveway, blocking me from getting into my garage and impeding the ability for me to even pull my car fully in. I began plotting how I could get this box moved with what I had at my disposal (A dolley & hand truck) but after a few futile attempts realized this box wasn’t going anywhere. Steaming at this point and on the verge of breaking something, up pulled the Mrs. from work.
Always the voice of reason in the relationship, she quickly confirmed that moving this box was not a realistic feat so we were left with only one option (one I hadn’t thought of): open the box and move the shed piece by piece to the backyard. A half hour later we were done but my frustration was at an all time high. I went through every potential way I could think of in my head to express my frustration to Home Depot but quickly realized none would provide much in terms of satisfaction. Feeling defeated, but still needing to vent somewhere I simply sent out the following on Twitter:
“Dear @Homedepot Thanks for telling me you’d call a 1/2 hr before my delivery, not calling and then leaving a 200lb box blocking my garage”
With that tweet I was ready to put the debacle to bed and set on making Lowes my only go-to for any home needs I had moving forward.
This however, is where things took an interesting turn. The very next morning I received the following tweet back from @HomeDepot:
“@avesp Let me follow up with the delivery team on this. Mind DMing the store location and your order details to me? ^Tinzley”
Intrigued with where this might go I direct messaged “Tinzley” the requested information. The following day I received a phone call “Hi Anthony. This is Tinzley from Home Depot customer service. I am calling to follow up with the unfortunate occurrence you referenced on Twitter.” She went on to let me know that she had called the store where I placed the purchase and spoke with the manager regarding my complaint. I imagine the conversation started with something to the effect of:
Tinzley: “Hello Mr. XYZ, This is Tinzley and I manage our customer service account on Twitter. I’m calling in reference to a tweet a customer had sent about his experience with this store”
Manager: “Huh. A customer sent a twit? What’s that? … What’s Twitter?”
Tinzley went on to say that the manager had told her that not only did they call several times but that the delivery company had left a voice message on my phone. I calmly explained to her that this was not at all true, that I had my phone by my side the entire day, and the first call I did receive from anyone at Home Depot was the store manager. She went on to say that she understood my side and the fact that I had no reason to lie to her. Having the chance to hear from both sides she wanted me to understand that this is not how the brand typically operates and that to help make up for a poor experience she wanted to extend a $50 gift card to me on behalf of Home Depot (I must admit I was quite impressed at the value). I of course accepted and thanked her for providing exceptional customer service.
What affect did this have? I now obviously plan on going to Home Depot to redeem my gift card and will most likely end up spending the customary $100 (Note to any future home owners: It is borderline impossible to go to Home Depot &/or Lowes and spend less than $100. Even if you go for light bulbs… you’re going to come out with more. It’s a fact of home ownership). Prior to Tinzley contacting me, my heart was set on never setting foot in a Home Depot unless it was absolutely necessary, but after being impressed with their effective and rapid customer service I simply won’t ever get something delivered from them again (a big win for them as far as I’m concerned).
Putting the marketing hat back on for a second, this is what we all strive for: make a direct connection between the brand and the consumer, ultimately increasing the customers view of the brand. Mission accomplished. Staying in theme, let’s look at the cost/benefit analysis.
Cost: A $50 gift card and dedication of a customer service resource to monitor and follow up with any complaints/inquires that come in via Twitter.
Cost Analysis: Assuming this is an existing resource who would simply be put in charge of the brand account: $5
Benefit: Change in perception of a prior but otherwise lost customer
Benefit Analysis: To be conservative, let’s say I go to a home improvement store three times a year.. at the $100/visit rate. Now factor in that I’m only 28 & only one person…. You get the idea.
The lesson here, in my opinion, is quite clear. Not only can engaging with your customers on Twitter result in a positive increase in your brands value, but the benefit can easily be off the charts. It’s time to get in the game. What are you waiting for? @avesp