Reading an exchange on Facebook over the weekend, I was reminded how powerfully social channels can influence interactions between brands and their customers. I’ve clipped select parts of the Facebook exchange between one of my connections and Brooks Brothers to illustrate how quickly a poor customer experience can escalate bad karma for a well known retail brand.
In this case, the original complaint was compounded by others in the string feeling it was time to share their own, mostly negative, comments about their recent interactions with Brooks Brothers. Comments touched on clothing quality, pricing, and even flowed over to criticism and commentary on Jos. A Banks, a Brooks Brothers competitor.
You’ll see that I commented in the string and, in an attempt to facilitate sanity, encouraged the customer to take up Brooks Brothers on its offer for reconciliation. I invited the customer to report back on the outcome in the FB string, and will share further comments if they become available.
The Brooks Brothers tale here serves as a reminder of how brands need to stay vigilent in monitoring their social mentions. They need to have well trained staff in place to not only man the listening post, but to be in position to address customer concerns in a sincere manner.
As you read the comments, you might think that you’ve seen much worse and you’re right. This string documents a legitimate complaint from a reasonable, but frustrated customer. We all know that sometimes the most irrational customers are also the loudest. No matter how explosive, complaints need to be tamed one at a time, and in this case, Brooks Brothers seems to be on the way towards a resolution satisfactory to the customer.
Note: I chose to share only the comments in the string that pertain directly to the initial complaint, and leave out the ones that represented piling on to Brooks Brothers and Jos. A Banks. You can imagine the rest. I also did not include a select few over-the-top comments in the string as they don’t add to the lesson illustrated here.
Offended Customer: In January I bought three dress shirts at your Stony Point location in Richmond, Va. One of the shirts unfortunately developed a very clean tear in the pocket, something I have not seen before. So I took the shirt in to the store. I was treated like a tool by the assistant manager, who basically told me I had torn the pocket. When I responded that I had not done that, nor do I bring shirts in I have damaged myself, she refused to believe me. When I asked to speak to the manager I was told that he is no vacation until a week from next Friday. REALLY? THIS IS HOW YOU TREAT YOUR CUSTOMERS? LIKE LYING DOGS?
After several comments from others sharing their individual experiences with Brooks Brothers….
Offended Customer: I emailed the manager my post and the photo, and copied his tool assistant.
Another Customer: My guess is, you’re talking to the wrong level person, untrained in BB customer service. Hard to believe that BB turns such inquiries back as corporate policy.
Offended Customer: The assistant manages card said she has been with BB since 1999. Think she has had long enough to be trained not to treat people like scum?
Brooks Brothers: Our sincere apologies “Mr. Offended Customer”. We strive each day to ensure every experience whether in store or online is a positive one. Kindly email your preferred contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will assist you directly. Again, our apologies and thank you for your patronage.
Me: Since BB extended the olive branch, I hope you’ll hear what they have to say/offer and report here if anything got resolved. That would be using social tools in an equitable way for way for both consumer and brand.