Wonderful Pistachios introduced me to the incredible world of online customer service. Customers of late have been finding maggots and burnt nuts within the protective shells of their pistachios.
Two separate (horrifying) instances produced immediate responses from the company. These errors are so egregious that they have no choice but to be upfront in their damage control. They use comforting language to their customers, almost adopting a parental undertone. “We’ll take care of you.” This sentence is intended to show that they remain in control and have the means to care for their customers, regardless of external circumstance.
In Chapter 8 of Ben Shields’, Social Media Management, he mentions that best practices in social media management lie within the speed of reply. Stopping the uproar before it becomes an untamable wildfire of customer anger is imperative. Also, Shields states that tone of the response is important as well. Acknowledging error and displaying how you will correct it in the future is more effective than a simple apology to a customer. So, despite the gross factor of Wonderful Pistachio’s latest mistakes, their social media team is doing an exemplary job in managing it online.
This is something Uber has faced recently in more than one way. On the political, business, and technical front, Uber has stood in the face of extreme crisis a lot in the past year. They even have a separate Twitter account than their main @Uber account to deal with customer maladies.
In 2014, Uber exec Emil Michael suggested spending a million dollars in a counter-strike against the media, using “off the record” material against a female journalist that wrote a critical piece on the company concerning their male-dominated culture.
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick issued a poor, lengthy apology that did nothing to soothe public opinion:
In his rambling apology, Kalanick does not take into account the nature of Twitter. It’s a brief platform. He basically chops up what looks like an email to employees and calls it a day. He also glazes over the actual issue at hand, making too broad a statement and not mentioning any steps to correcting Uber’s culture moving forward.
Shields states that in mitigating a crisis, you must do three things: shift perception, direct audiences to a specific action, and improve brand health (216). Kalanick does none of these things with his lackluster apology. An effective strategy would have been creating a plan for the company to empower women within their business model and harshly reprimand (i.e. fire) any male drivers that have been reported as sexually harassing women. Merely reproducing a company policy in 13 tweets does not satisfy a consumers’ need for change. Also, incorporating visual content within an apology, especially from a company as tech-saavy as Uber, would appeal to customer emotion more than loose text. Shields also makes an excellent point in stating on page 218 that anything on social media these days can be taken out of context and create an even larger problem. Post with caution.