Hummus, social media and customer service
If the headline didn’t draw you in, then very little that I write will. But inspired by Lindsay Bell’s post in today’s “Spin Sucks” about first poor, then better, then semi-competent customer service from Jawbone, I felt compelled to write this post.
And before going into extensive detail, I’ll let you know that I am the first person to speak up when something is not right – and I’m pissed. Hell, just from posts on this blog alone, ask Lou Capozzi (and again) or Robert Scoble and again, and again. Or a host of other people whom I have pissed off. But I believe that if you complain when something goes wrong, you are obligated to praise when something goes very right.
You see, my son and I LOVE spicy food and we LOVE hummus. So when we discovered Sabra’s jalapeño hummus, we were hooked. We bought it at least a couple of times as week and, with mouths burning and eyes watering with every bite, we loved it.
Except – MYSTERY – it went missing from our local grocery store about two months ago. Every time I went there, I looked for it. I NEEDED MY FIX. The store people really didn’t care, so I decided to use some social media skillz and try to play detective.
I found Sabra’s Facebook page, and with low expectations, posted on their wall and asked if they still carried by beloved, spicy little jalapeños mixed with savory chick pea goodness. To my surprise, within hours, I got the following response:
Nice gesture. They were friendly, sent me to another resource for help and they responded quickly. And keep in mind, folks, that this is not a $100,000 purchase – it’s a $3.99 package of hummus. I’m not a big dollar customer.
So I took their advice today and emailed customer service, again, like a lovesick teenager, inquiring as to the whereabouts of my beloved snack. WITHIN TWO HOURS, I had the following response:
Thank you for writing. I’m very sorry for the confusion. I don’t know who would have told you that we’re still making this flavor, but the Jalapeño Hummus has been discontinued. Please know I will share your comments with our sales and marketing teams for any future consideration.
There are many reasons why a product may be discontinued, but it is usually because there aren’t enough consumers like you buying it. Sometimes stores stop carrying slower-selling items to make room for other products. When this happens, at too many stores, it’s difficult to continue making and selling the product.
Mark, I’m sending you a free product coupon so that you can try something new on us! You should receive it in about a week.
Thanks again for sharing your comments with us. I hope that one of our other dips will satisfy your taste buds.
Best regards,[name redacted] Sabra Consumer Relations
To deconstruct Sabra’s emailed response, they a) apologized for any confusion, b) explained why the product was discontinued (at some length) and c) even said that they were going to send me a “free product coupon so that you can try something new on us,” enticing me to find a substitute for my favorite kind.
This is what embodies how you use social media for good customer service:
- Actively monitoring your social media properties
- Responding quickly
- Pointing customers to other sources to solve their problems, and
- Ensuring that you actually HAVE the customer service infrastructure to back up the referral (which is not always the case).
Sabra did all of these things which I consider to be excellent customer service, but one that takes advantage of the power of social media to connect customers and corporations – and in a remarkably short amount of time.
So bravo on a social media listening and online customer service response done well, Sabra. I can’t wait to try “something new.”
You should too.
P.S. – I HAVE used Sabra’s corporate logo without their permission, but I plan to alert them to this post and and have linked the image to their corporate web site in the hopes that they can discover more, happy customers. Sabra comms/legal people – if using the logo is a no-no, let me know and I will take it down.