How would you handle this communication from a disgruntled customer?

(Note: for full effect, replace the world “widget” with your company’s product or service. And, of course, you work for Company X.)

Dear (Company X):

I just want the widget that I ordered, please. I want the exact widget that I ordered, by the date and time that you said it would be ready and for the quoted price. Really, that’s all I want.

Yes, I do want to know if you’re having problems doing what you told me that you would do. I still won’t be happy if you can’t meet your commitment, but I might be able to adapt to your new plan. But, really, I just want the widget that I ordered.

Yes, emphasizing with how I’m feeling (i.e. wishing nasty things upon you and your kin) might make me feel better when you didn’t do what you said you would do. The first time, that is. But I don’t forget when you’ve let me down.

By the way, I don’t usually like to be recommended, upsold, downsold, cross-sold or know what my friends have bought during the order life cycle. Most of the time I can only afford the widget that I’m buying right now. The main reason that I’m buying from you is that you have a decent promotion or discount that makes it interesting for me. And I badly want (or need) the widget that I ordered by the date that we agreed upon.

Yeah, it’s kind of neat that you’re on Twitter, Facebook and that you have a blog. That is, I care about what you have to say in social media if it’s something that I want or need. I don’t care about how much you gave to the United Way or how your CEO put on a T shirt and shorts and washed cars for a local charity. I also don’t care about which industry awards that you won. Your statements of caring about me and my needs must be matched with acceptable execution in order for your words to have any meaning.

By the way, if you’re only engaging me during the order fulfillment cycle, then you’ve done it wrong. I might be more receptive before I buy something. I’ll definitely be more receptive after you do what you said you were going to do.

Now, can I just have my widget please, when you said I’d get it and for the price that we agreed upon? Hey, if you do all that then, what the heck, I’ll probably follow you back on Twitter. No guarantees that I’ll pay attention, but heck, what’s another message amongst the thousands that I get every day?

Waiting (almost) patiently,

Your customer

This is a fictional example. But wouldn’t it be great to be running your social media strategy from a position of strength (excellent execution and customer satisfaction) than weakness (your customers hating you?) Otherwise, your social media efforts are going to be band-aids unless you do what you said you’re going to do. And band-aids don’t last very long.

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About Mark Dykeman

Mark Dykeman

Mark Dykeman is the founder and main brain of Thoughtwrestling, a blog devoted to helping you with creativity, creative thinking, idea generation techniques, problem solving and getting things done. He is also the award-winning blogger behind Broadcasting Brain. For more great ideas, follow Mark on Twitter at @markdykeman.

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Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • Parissa Behnia

    I really enjoyed this! I caught a bit of “Miracle on 34th Street” over the weekend and saw RH Macy implementing a policy that, thanks to the new Santa Claus, they would only sell what the customers wanted and not what they wanted to push. If they didn't carry the item, they would send customers to Gimbel's to keep with the holiday spirit…

    The excerpt plus the post it inspired can be found here:

  • davevandewalle

    This is why lots of companies shouldn't do social. Great post.

    • Mark Dykeman

      I guess it's a kind of cautionary tale. :)

  • jeffespo

    Mark, I love the fictional email and think its just interesting as it points out many of the places that one can get it wrong. At the end of the day people first and foremost will win over gimmicks and pushy sales in the space.

    Recognizing that and being human is what sets good folks from the masses.

    • Mark Dykeman

      Thanks Jeff. I wonder if anyone's been getting E-Mails like this.

      • jeffespo

        I haven't but then I again I haven't angered you yet have I? :)

        • Mark Dykeman


  • thesocialanswer

    In the end, this is what it's all about. Getting social is great, but having a product that you believe in and can deliver time and time again is what will keep people coming back. The social part is just noise if you aren't delivering your widgets.

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