How to win and lose customers using social media


Big businesses may not realize how important social media is to the success or failure of their business.

I am a big advocate for using social media to extend customer care. I want to share with you my personal experience with two companies and their use of social media. One company lost me as a customer, the other turned me in to a loyal customer.

Below is an example of what NOT to do on social media:

Back in February I purchased a modem from Best Buy. I kept the modem in the box and put it aside until I had time to deal with it. By the time I realized I had purchased the wrong type of modem for what I needed I tried to return it to Best Buy. I went to the store with my brand new modem and receipt and was told I could not return or exchange it because it was purchased over 15 days ago. What?! I was traveling and just realized I got the wrong one. Sorry mam, we can’t help you. I left the store disappointed and frustrated and expressed my frustration on Twitter. What happened on Twitter confirmed to me they had lost a customer.

(Click on image of tweets to read actual tweet stream)

Best Buy disappointsNotice the last tweet at the bottom from Office Depot. Looks like they “get” social media. 😉

Companies need to give their in-person and online customer service representatives some freedom to do what will make their customers happy. Otherwise, they risk losing a customer and gaining a bunch of negative press.

Best Buy social media fail Best Buy fail

Some thoughts on what Best Buy could have done differently. To start with they could have accepted my return or at the very least offered me store credit. When they saw I was frustrated on social media the best thing they could have done was to quietly send me a DM (direct message) and offer to make an exception for me and accept the return. If they couldn’t do that due to “policy” then they could have at least offered me a gift card with an apology. Instead they chose to leave me frustrated and disappointed and lost me as a customer.

Now here is an example of what TO DO on social media:

I recently bought a new Brita water filter pitcher. I’ve been using one for years but it was time for a new one. I had the new one for about 2 weeks when it mysteriously started leaking. I decided to try social media again to see if this company would help me out. They responded to me with in minutes! Brita is a company that “gets” customer service and “gets” social media. It makes me so happy when I see big business understanding how social media really works. Thank you Brita! Kudos to Amanda behind the tweets.


After a few pleasant private exchanges my issue was resolved and Brita gets an A+ for using social media for great customer support.

Brita Twitter

4 thoughts on “How to win and lose customers using social media

  1. Crystal Pina

    I’ve had trouble with BestBuy too. They not only voided my warranty that I paid $300 for – for a reason I disagreed with – they refused to return my item to me until I paid them $25 for looking at it. They lost me as a customer for a long time. I probably didn’t buy from them for 3 years. Then I did start making small purchases but I will only buy the cheapest thing I need so I won’t care when/if it breaks, and only if I can’t find it someplace else.

  2. Dale Janee

    I came across your blog because I’m a Bay Area blogger too and this article was so interesting. I had to laugh at the Best Buy story. I hate Best Buy lol after a few years ago when they did the same to me and I requested my entire family never shop there again. Anyway, your examples are so perfect and I completely agree how when big businesses understand how to communicate directly (especially using DM’s) it’s so much more professional and makes the customer feel special. Nice post!


  3. Sally_K Post author

    Thanks Crystal and Dale for leaving comments. I don’t usually like to write negative posts but I was just so frustrated with Best Buy’s lack of customer service…

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