If you did a customer service or business courses over the past fifty years you have heard a professor say "Every irate customer who complains tells ten friends and influences their buying decisions." Or "For every customer who complains there are ten more unhappy customer s behind him who won't take the time to complain. They just stop doing business with you." Likewise for happy customers, they also tell ten friends how happy they are.Fast forward to 2012 and social media. The power of social media has killed that theory. Businesses no longer worry about irate or happy customers telling ten friends. Now it's more like telling ten thousand friends and destroying your company on the internet.
Recently my 12-year-old daughter and her friend when to McDonalds on Torbay Road for lunch during her school day. The ATM machines at BMO went down and her card was declined. She didn't have any money on her and didn't know what to do. It was the first time her card had been declined.I am sure as adults we all know what it's like to stand in front of the cashier praying that "Approved" comes up on the machine but to a tween-aged girl it is the ultimate embarrassment. One that may stop her from ever returning to a McDonalds again. After the card was declined for the second time the server behind the counter said, "Your lunch is free" and pushed her tray towards her.
My daughter didn't know what to do but the server simply said, "The food is cooked. Go ahead and take it. Today lunch is on us." My daughter and her friend walked away giggling like they had won the lottery.A very important lesson was learned here. That server could have taken the tray away or made a big fuss to embarrass her and my daughter could have walked away humiliated and hungry. The server made an executive decision that sent a social media wave of good comments throughout the world without knowing it.
There's nothing more important to me than my kids. When someone shows them kindness it touches my heart. When my daughter told me what happened. I put it on my Facebook and Twitter pages and instead of telling "ten" friends, I told about 1500 friends! Three of my Twitter followers retweeted it to their followers, reaching about three thousand. A dozen or so people "Liked" it on my Facebook page, which meant all their friends saw their "Like" and who knows how many read it and smiled.Here's the thing. My daughter has only been to McDonalds three times since the school year started. So she's not a "Valued" customer. McDonalds is not going to go under if she doesn't come back to spend $5.00 on lunch. As a footnote, McDonalds is cheaper than the school cafeteria.
My son had the same dilemma at the same time with the BMO debit machines down. He is in grade 12 at Holy Heart. Every lunch time for the past three years he has walked to Sobey's on Merrymeeting Road to buy lunch. The servers behind the counter recognize him and make small talk with him. They say "Hi" as soon as he comes in. On Friday, he was at Sobey's buying his lunch when the ATM machines went down. He called me to say his card had been declined twice and the ATM machine in the lobby wouldn't work. He also didn't have cash on him.I asked "Can they give you your lunch and let you pay for it tomorrow?" He said "No." So he went without lunch and walked back to school hungry.
My son is a "Valued" customer. He buys his lunch at Sobey's every day. Yet they showed him no good-will. That upsets me. Would Sobey's have gone under if the server had given him the$8.00 lunch for free or let him pay for it the next day. I don't think so.Take a look at the top of this page. The number of people who read this blog is well over 24,500! I am not telling ten friends how pissed I am at Sobey's, I am telling 24,500!
Social media has not only changed the playing field. It is the playing field!Remember Rod Stewart's song "You're in my heart?" Well that's considered an "Oldie but goodie" now. Today's version would go like this: "You're in my blog, you're on my social media role, you'll be in there till we grow old."
Every time someone Googles "McDonalds" or " Sobey's" my blog will show up. Every time someone reads my blog and "Shares" it with a friend the story gets told again. They'll tell 1000 people and they'll tell 1000 people and they'll tell 1000 people.There's an old saying that "Character is doing the right thing when nobody's looking."
I agree. McDonald you did the right thing when nobody was looking. Sobey's you failed.