It all started with a sandwich. After swinging by Jimmy John’s on my lunch break and thinking about their unique decor and casual attitude, I was curious to take a look at their social media pages and see if the same theme was applied to how they handle customer interactions. After checking out their original content, I headed over to their Facebook wall and it didn’t take long to see several complaints from customers. With thousands of locations across the country, not to mention being in the demanding food service industry, it’s not unexpected that there would be a unsatisfied customer at some point. And while some of the complaints had merit, others were borderline nonsensical or far too demanding in their expectations. After scrolling past several of these, it occurred to me that I’ve ordered Jimmy John’s sandwiches dozens (maybe hundreds?) of times, from multiple locations, and it has always been a reliably pleasurable experience. That’s why I keep coming back. Surely I couldn’t be the only one who’s happy with their experience?
As anyone in customer service or public relations (particularly the social media marketing arm of public relations) knows, people are far more likely to complain when something goes wrong than they are to praise a company when they’re satisfied with the service. It’s troublesome problem that holds a mirror up to our expectations. We’re too lazy to publicly praise good service, but when something goes wrong (even if its the first time after a hundred positive interactions), we’re quick to condemn. And of course, if you keep coming back, you’re likely to eventually have a less than pleasurable experience.
At this point in my life, I have reliable services and products that I count on frequently. Every month, I return to the same restaurant, I buy the same brand of snacks, I pay the same subscription fee for a service that I like, and more. I even visit the same brand of gas station, because I have always had a good experience. I don’t even have to worry about it much anymore; these are reliable names that I know I can depend on. When have I ever stopped to say “thank you” to any of these brands? While you could argue that me continuing to buy the product or service is a good way of saying thanks, the people on the PR teams rarely see the positive interactions. They unfortunately continue to see the same angry customers, day after day.
I’m far from innocent in this disturbing trend; there have been countless times where I had a great experience at a store or restaurant and while I thought about leaving a positive review online, I never saw it through. Not anymore. I’m done partaking in this selfish apathy.
So in honor of November, a month that we’re encouraged to give thanks, I’m setting out on a social media mission. For the next 30 days, I’ll be saying thanks daily to a company, service or product that I continue to use and appreciate. I’ll cover larger corporations that I have no personal interaction with, to the people in my life like my barber and the hair saloon that she works at. I’ll even include positive salespeople experiences that I have as we head into the holiday season. The goal is simple: to help make my industry colleague’s feel a little better about what they do, and to let companies know when what they’re doing is working. My hope is that by this time next month, I’ll have made it a habit to always praise positive interactions online. Who knows? Maybe the mentality will carry onto others.
Since I’m starting this almost halfway into November, I’ll be carrying out this project until December 12, 2013. After that, I’ll report back with my interactions, thoughts and findings.
Until then, here’s the kickoff: the comment that I left with Jimmy John’s on Facebook:
It’s not much, but it’s a start. See you in 30.