Twitter as a Customer Service Tool

Those of you who are following me on Twitter know that I recently witnessed an unfortunate interaction between an employee at my local Guitar Center store and another customer.  As I left the store I posted the following on Twitter via my BlackBerry.


Just finished watching an employee at Guitar center making fun of a
customer who was trying to exchange a cable that had a lifetime
warranty…I guess he doesn’t understand the lifetime value of a customer.


Within hours I received an email informing me that @Venezia had started following me on Twitter.  When I looked at @Venezia‘s Twitter page I realized that he is the Chief Marketing Officer and an Executive Vice President at Guitar Center.  I sent him a private Twitter message and asked him if he’d be interested in learning the details of what I’d observed while in the store.  He twittered me back and said he would.  So I sent him an email explaining the details of what I’d observed.  A few hours ago I received this email response from @Venezia.

(Posted here with the author’s permission)

Wow, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the time you took to write this richly detailed account of what you experienced. Twitter continues to make me more of a believer every day in its usefulness as a customer service tool.

First, of course, we deeply regret the scene you witnessed. I read your email aloud to the EVP of Sales, Mark Galster (in charge of the stores), and forwarded it to the Regional and District Manager. I will speak with them as well. So your critique falls on receptive ears. We’re on it.

Second, we have, as of the latest count, 11,249 employees. And we spend millions training them to create the best possible experience for our customers. With so many stores and employees, we conduct research that gives us “report cards” on our customer experience delivery, and we are quite deliberate about becoming stronger where we learn of weakness. The good news is, in the overwhelming majority of cases, the feedback is great. Better than our competitors, in fact. But like all good musicians, we need to have good ears if we want to get better. So I actually actively troll for dissatisfaction on places like Twitter and in the blogosphere. We have an employee that does nothing but look for critiques (and praise) on the net. And we stay out of the ivory tower and self-criticize to learn from missteps.

We take our satisfaction guarantee extremely seriously. I wish it were possible ID the customer you described, though it probably isn’t. But at least we have the feedback from you, and for this we are grateful.

We’re glad you’re our customer, and hope to see you in the stores for years to come. If there is anything you need from me, let me know.

Norman Hajjar
Guitar Center Inc.

What could Guitar Center have done differently (other than avoiding the incedent in the first place)?  I appreciate the fact that they are monitoring Twitter for customer service issues…I would have preferred it if they had proactively Twittered me to address the issue rather than just starting to follow me (in Norman’s defense…according to his Twitter posts he is at Disney on Vacation…so I’m impressed that he was even aware of this incedent…and he may usually initiate contact with people). 

If you really want to understand how to use twitter to provide customer service check out @Zappos or @Lijit. These are two companies that understand customer service and understand the internet.  It seems as though Zappos standard operating procudure is to offer a gift certificate or discount to anyone who blogs about them ( 🙂  I guess I’ll find out if that’s true).


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