Customer Service in a Social Era – get it right

Offering and delivering good customer service is fundamental business sense – they teach it in the kindergarten of business school, so there really isn’t any excuse when businesses fail to deliver a decent standard of customer service. By nurturing your customers, attending to their needs and approaching any problems with care and reason, you should help to ensure that your brand builds a good reputation and legacy that will stand you in good stead for the future.

Word of mouth is still as powerful as ever, if people experience good things with your company, they will tell others. We must remember that ‘telling others’ in a social era – includes – tweeting, blogging, facebooking etc.

In this social era that we’re now in - where anything can be made viral and where the everyman is given a very loud voice (attached to a megaphone that can reach Australia) – keeping your customers happy couldn’t be more important. The Social Era has provided us with platforms that give customers the opportunity to have their say. However, it also gives brands the opportunity to fix any problems, respond to queries and generally offer a high standard of customer service.

Knowing all of this – I was shocked to a hear story this weekend about the internationally respected brand that is ‘Armani’ and their major downfall in Customer Service.

A friend of mine had bought a coat on Friday in the Armani Exchange store in Westfield Shopping centre for £300. After being assured that she could return the coat within 14 days she purchased it, got it home and to her surprise realised that her boyfriend had bought the exact same coat for her for Christmas, knowing that she wanted it. Touched by this unusual display of attentiveness from her partner she took one of the garments back to the Armani Exchange Store in order to get a refund.

Shock horror – Armani’s response was that they don’t offer refunds unless the item is faulty and she was only entitled to a £300 gift voucher or exchange! (Apparently the small print on the receipt explained this).

Tearful and distressed she had no choice but to leave the shop with the coat, in the hope that Armani’s higher powers would view this situation as very unfortunate and see it as an opportunity to offer a high standard of customer service out of good will.

Armani have done completely the opposite by not only denying any form of refund but by ignoring two emails to two separate people – very foolish on two accounts. Being ignored has not only angered her but further encouraged her to take further action in using social media to get heard. She tweeted about her very negative experience with Armani and asked for others to come forward and share their grievances.

Armani have not responded, which we can only assume means that they are not watching social media and therefore are in no way in control of what anyone says or reports about their brand. This is again - very foolish - any praise their brand receives will go unnoticed and any criticism will go unresolved. After reaching out to the masses of Twitter, tweeters came back to her to instruct her on various tactics that they had had to apply to fix the challenge - largely around 'making a hole in the garment and reporting it faulty'.  Really.

Does anyone at Armani know that people on Twitter are giving out this kind of advice?

Does anyone at Armani know that this blog has been written about them?

If someone from their company was watching social media and listening to what their customers were saying perhaps they would understand that not only are they being bad mouthed across powerful social platforms but that disgruntled customers are encouraging each other to damage their stock in a desperate attempt to be refunded. If I was Giorgio Armani, I would certainly want to know about this.

With social media being so powerful we have made communication not only immediate but also global. Armani’s stock is most frequently purchased by young people, who are the best versed in the use of this media. Any negative experience that any customer has can be blogged about, tweeted about, facebooked about and made viral quicker than any refund can be put through a till.

Armani should be listening to their customers, offering an acceptable level of customer service and building on their brand.

Unfortunately for Armani, my friend is a social media consultant and will be using her expertise to ensure that other social media users are very aware of Armani’s very poor customer service.

Has anyone else out there experienced poor customer service of this kind? Does anyone have any examples of good customer service being utilised through social media? Feel free to share - we'd love to showcase them.

For more tips and advice on using social media follow us on Twitter - @CarvillCreative


 Since writing this post - Armani have now in fact offered a full refund to the disgruntled customer, they have apologised for leaving it so late before responding to emails and were admittedly very reasonable about the refund. They picked up this blog, saw that it was being shared around Twitter and decided to act on the negative comments that were being shared around social media platforms concerning their brand. It seems that somebody was listening, eventually, we just hope other brands who seem to be failing in their customer service will learn a valuable lesson from this case study. Thanks to Armani for listening and showing that customer service is important to them. 


Enjoy the post… Vikki

Carvill Creative – the online visibility experts. A digital marketing agency based in Maidenhead, Berkshire.  Carvill Creative covers all aspects of online visibility – website effectiveness, social media marketing, social media management and social media training, user focused website planning and conversion focused website design.

Passionate about Online Visibility - creating an integrated approach across websites, blogs and social media platforms.

MarketingMichelle Carvill