Customer service and the power of Twitter

I’ve learned from the great Peter Shankman the power of getting fast customer support by mobilizing Twitter to get the attention of the right people at a company that’s done the wrong thing.

A perfect example of the power of Twitter in the world of customer service is the recent debacle of daily deal site‘s (formerly The Dealist) unfortunate partnership with the now-defunct Digital Doorstep to distribute Fandango Bucks. The daily deals site offered a compelling offer back in October 2011 to purchase vouchers for Fandango Bucks for two tickets worth up to $24 for only $12 (which is now less than the cost of a first-run movie in Manhattan, where I live). I bought four, giving me eight tickets, but I had to use them before January 31, 2012.

The vouchers had to be redeemed through Digital Doorstep, a digital fulfillment company. Pasting the codes would then reveal the Fandango codes needed to apply when purchasing the movie tickets. I used two of vouchers without incident, and preemptively redeemed the other two so that I would have the Fandango codes ready to use. Now, with just days before their expiration, I decided to use them. When on the Fandango site and in the process of purchasing tickets, I discovered that my codes were “cancelled.” Perplexed, I went back to the Digital Doorstep site, where I was informed that the company was no longer redeeming coupons and that I should go back to the deal site in question to obtain a refund.

The site was of little help. There was nothing on the site referring to this issue. The “Contact Us” section had only an online form, and no phone number. Googling for a phone number was unsuccessful. The top deal sites Groupon and Living Social both offer toll-free support lines, so this did not bode well. I submitted a report, but got no response or even an acknowledgement in email. I then decided to see if the company had a presence on Twitter. They did. I immediately tweeted them about my problem. When I looked at their Twitter page, I noticed a number of similar tweets, and their responses, which gave a special email address for each person to use to send them particulars of their transaction. Apparently kgbdeals had set up a “Digital Doorstep Response Team,” with a corresponding email address.

I sent to this address the same content of my earlier form submission. Now, within minutes, I had a reply — automated, but a reply — and not longer after, I had a personal reply. It took a number of back and forth emails to get things straightened out, but eventually I was rewarded with a notice that my canceled codes would be refunded $24 within five days. (Notably, there was another email from another person on their team, calling me “Alexander,” saying I’d be getting $48. I let them know, and then they sent the correct one.)

So, thanks to Twitter, problem solved. I’m disappointed, however, that the company still has not bothered to put up any sort of notice on their website pointing people to the solution I found on my own. I’ve discovered that this is often the case: a company does a decent job handling disasters via Twitter, but still allows its old-school customer service people to do a lousy job. (I find it nearly amusing, since I cannot help but think of the Russian KGB when I see the name kgbdeals, and their handling of this mess reminded me of how the old Russian bureaucracy might have handled it.) For that reason, I unsubscribed from today.

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