Lousy Customer Service and Laudable Customer Response

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Laxminarayan Krishnamurthy from Mumbai (India) ordered a Samsung Core Duo mobile on Snapdeal to gift it to his wife for Diwali during the Snapdeal Diwali bumper sale this year. He got shocker when he received the courier. Instead of brand new Samsung Core Duo, the box contained a Vim dish wash bar and brick. Mr. Murthy in addition to complaining with Snapdeal posted about his experience on Facebook. His story got nearly 19,000 shares. It so happened that one of the executives at Hindustan Unilever (HUL) which owns the Vim brand saw Mr.Murthy’s post and decided to delight Mr. Murthy with a surprise. HUL sent Mr. Murthy a Samsung mobile phone along with two bottles of Vim Liquid and letter with the following message, “The pictures you posted online show that our brand was used in this incident. Vim is one of our iconic brands with some great consumer franchise. We felt bad about it, not to mention what you went through. Here is a small gesture from our side to cheer you up.” Snapdeal on its part, to avoid further bad publicity apologized to Mr. Murthy and returned his money. They also told him that the courier service that they used was at fault. While Snapdeal missed an opportunity to provide a good customer experience, HUL, though there was not fault on its part decided to step in and delight Mr. Murthy with its kind gesture.

Talking of customer response to lousy customer service, I am reminded of the singer/ songwriter Dave Carroll based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. In 2008 Dave was flying by United Airlines from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Omaha, Nebraska, with a layover at Chicago’s O’Hare airport. Dave’s $3500 Taylor guitar was damaged due to poor handling by United Airline’s baggage handlers at Chicago’s O’Hare airport. However Dave’s complaints to United Airlines fell in deaf ears and they were unapologetic. Dave tried for nine months running from pillar to post to get the refund for at least the cost of the repair ($1800). Having been fed up with United Airlines, he decided to write a song and produce a music video and aptly named it, ‘United Breaks Guitars.’ He posted the song on YouTube (on July 6, 2009) and it became an instant YouTube hit garnering about 5 million hits by mid-august 2009. What a PR disaster for United Airlines for ignoring one customer on one flight journey. United Breaks Guitars won the 2009 Music Nova Scotia Video of the Year Award and Dave Carroll was awarded the 2009 Music Nova Scotia Digital Artist of the Year. Dave did not stop with that. He produced two more videos, “United Breaks Guitars Song 2” and “United Breaks Guitars Song 3.” The three songs together have received around 17 million views on YouTube (as of today). That’s 17 million bad publicity instances for United Airlines. In May 2012, Dave also went on to publish a book, “United Breaks Guitars: The Power of One Voice in the Age of Social Media.”

When I personally had bad experiences (twice) with Airtel Digital TV, I wrote mails directly to Airtel Digital TV’s CEOs. I had to struggle for about an hour (each time) on the internet to find out the email addresses of the CEOs but got the issue resolved. In the both the instances I received calls from the head of their service department the very next day but for some strange reasons they took more than a week to actually resolve the issue. Guess I should have posted my complaint on Social Media.

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