I just got finished reading dooce’s blog account of her nightmare with trying to get her Maytag washer fixed.
Dooce is what Seth Godin would call a “sneezer.” Sneezers spread idea viruses. Sneezers let people know when they like things, and when they don’t, and sneezers have A LOT OF INFLUENCE. When they recommend a restaurant, people go to it. When they like a pair of shoes, lots of people go out and buy them. And when they get shitty customer service from Maytag, whoah boy. Watch out.
dooce, has a wildly popular blog with hundreds of thousands of readers.
dooce, has one million, one hundred fifty-three thousand, three hundred and ninety (1, 153, 390) followers on Twitter (of which I am one).
But do the customer service people at Maytag know this when she calls and tries to get her very expensive, brand new washer fixed? No they do not. They treat her just like they would treat you or me. (Like shit.)
So here is what happened: After going through hell trying to get her washer fixed, dooce Twittered about it. And to be fair, she warned the person on the phone that she was going to Twitter about it, and that person just laughed at her.
(BIG mistake. Huge.)
So she wrote a series of Twitters saying DON’T BUY MAYTAG. MAYTAG IS A NIGHTMARE. And other Twitters to that effect.
And guess what happened? Yep. She got satisfaction, baby! Yes she did. The CEO of Maytag contacted her and made it all better, PRONTO. (And she Twittered about that, too.)
Here is her account of her adventure. You’ve got to go read it. It’s hilarious. She is such a great writer. I would give some non-essential body part (my adenoids?) to be able to write half as good as she does.
But here is the lesson. Businesses of all stripe, large and small, need to pay attention to this because when they jerk us around how do they know we aren’t dooce? How do they know we aren’t influential sneezers? The answer is: they don’t.
Social media now has the power to kill a business, or at least give it a very ugly black eye. Used to be people were only connected in small tribes without much power: families, neighborhoods, church groups and the like. But now we have hundreds of friends on Facebook, tons of followers on Twitter, and lots of us are bloggers with small and large reader bases–or we could be. And people listen to each other. And if you post that Maytag gave you shitty customer service, I believe you. And I’m going to steer away from Maytag.
So if you are a business you need to take this dooce episode as a cautionary tale. You need to treat every single customer as if he or she were dooce. Because if we sneezers like you, you’re golden. If you piss us off, you’re done.