Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Customer Service in the Social Media Age

Back in April of 2012, I wrote a blog post about AT&T U-Verse and how they’re using social media right for customer service (http://www.jeremybednarski.com/2012/04/at-u-verse-using-social-media-right.html). A year and a half later, I wanted to update you with some companies that are using it right and one that’s not doing it so well.  Three stories based on my experiences with each.

First, the good! The Cincinnatian Hotel (@TheCincinnatian) in Cincinnati monitors their social media to improve customers’ experiences. I found out firsthand a few months ago when my wife and I visited. We checked in and asked for a room with a nice view. After saying they had one for us, it turned out the view was of an abandoned building with some dumpsters. We weren’t very happy with it, needless to say. Being very active on Twitter (follow me at @jeremybednarski) and remembering a blog post by a friend of mine, Rachel Van Arsdale (@rcoristin05) from Melamed Riley (@melamedriley), about her social media experience with the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago (read it here: http://www.themrsite.com/blog/2012/06/love-at-first-tweet/), I decided to send them a Tweet that basically said we were disappointed with the room. In less than five minutes, we got a call asking if we were happy with our room. They ended up upgrading us to a bigger room with an actual decent view. I Tweeted our appreciation and we had a great stay!

Next up is Peet’s Coffee and Tea, who just opened down the street from me, replacing a Caribou Coffee. My wife and I loved Caribou Coffee. Their employees were all exceptional and we never had anything close to a bad experience. Our first experience with Peet’s was not great. The employee seemed genuinely annoyed to be taking care of us. A week or so later, I came across a post from Peet’s on Facebook about the new North Olmsted store. A few people had some complaints, so I gave my feedback as well. They replied to me (and the others with bad comments) asking me to send an email to their customer service. In the meantime, I tried them three more times, one really good experience with a former Caribou employee, and two so-so experiences. The main problem those times was the drink I ordered came about ¾ full.  Thinking it was probably a fluke, I ordered it the next time and it was about the same...and by ¾ full, I’m being kind. That included foam and the ice in the cup. See the photo below. So I emailed them with the original post and my feedback from my three subsequent visits. They responded with an apology and let me know that they had passed it on to the North Olmsted Manager, who emailed me. She offered to buy my drink the next time. I thought the offer was nice, although I’m not sure if I’ll be rushing back. I am impressed by their responsiveness and how quickly they tried to help. If I do go back, that will be the reason why.

Finally, here’s a company that’s not doing it so well...Fathead’s in North Olmsted. Fathead’s is a micro-brewery that started in Pittsburgh. My wife and I were excited when we heard they were opening here. Unfortunately, from day one, their bar service has been horrible. Not average or bad...absolutely horrible. From ignoring customers to forgetting drinks, they just don’t put any kind of effort into their service. They’ve got good food and great beer, so we do go there from time to time and they’re always busy. Each time though, we leave wondering why we put up with the crappy service. If the service was even half way decent, we’d probably be there a lot more often. A couple of weeks ago, after yet another crappy service visit, I saw they have a Twitter account. So, I Tweeted how disappointed we always are with their service, and also posted it on Facebook. A few others replied with similar comments. Fatheads has not responded on either Twitter or Facebook. I’m not surprised as it mirrors their in-person service, even though it looks like they Tweet pretty regularly.  By the way, if you want a place with great service and a better social media experience, check out Rocky River Brewing Company (@RockyRiverBrew). Especially when George is bartending, you’ll have a great experience.

What companies have you had good or bad experiences with? I’d love to hear, so tell us below! Or, if you've had different experiences with the companies above, let me know that too. Thanks for reading and feel free to sign up to get my updates in your email or share this with your friends!


  1. Great post Jeremy - the best use of social media I've encountered was at the Westin in San Francisco which I've recounted here: http://www.406northlane.com/blog/2013/03/the-best-use-of-social-media-ever/

  2. Thanks, Greg! Hotels that do it right really make an impact.

  3. Thanks, Greg! Hotels that do it right really make an impact.