When the customer speaks…

I won’t complain. I just won’t come back. ~Brown & Williamson Tobacco Ad

Last week, I came across an important documentary that was produced by the BBC and was being shown on CBC titled Chocolate: The Bitter Truth regarding child labour and child trafficking in support of cocoa farming and the supply chain of cocoa.  Perth County is home to an amazing foodie movement, so being the weekend before Valentine’s Day, I tweeted out to the two chocolatiers in Stratford asking them if they knew where their chocolate was sourced.

Both businesses replied openly on Twitter and thanked me for pointing them to the documentary, but only one of the businesses actually replied to my question.

The one that did respond did it via direct message, shared in my concerns regarding the impact of the issue and further shared that they support Fairtrade chocolate in their store.

The other business out right ignored me and my second response question to them.

So, my question is this; if I was standing in your store Mr. Business Owner and I asked you a question to your face, would you turn your back on me and ignore me?

I doubt it.

So, why do you think it’s okay to do that to me online?

You continued to use Twitter throughout the weekend to hawk your wares, but most importantly to me, you turned your back on me, your customer. It doesn’t matter to me that you don’t have the “right” answer; I didn’t really expect you to.  What I did expect was for you to engage me and treat me with some respect. You didn’t.

Anyone that knows me knows that I am an avid advocate for the City of Stratford and especially for its small businesses. I have often put together little Stratford bags of goodness to share with colleagues visiting from other parts of the country to share with them the Stratford success stories and tastes from our businesses, which usually included a well known iconic mint chocolate bar.

So, now, my goodie bag will not be including wares from this chocolate house, nor will I retweet their messages or recommend them to visitors. Why would I?

Thanks to Derek of Chocolate Barr’s for engaging with me and showing me that I matter…your regard will be paid back in kind…


About KarenSD

Business Designer. Connector. Shift Disturber. Intrapreneur. Speaker. Teacher. Elephant Hunter. Feminist. FSE. COO, VP Business Design @ellipsisdigital View all posts by KarenSD

4 responses to “When the customer speaks…

  • R.J. Anderson

    Hear, hear! I too have been really impressed with Derek’s approachability and generosity on Twitter and his commitment to integrity and quality ingredients in his business. I’d patronized the Other Store in the past but will not be quick to visit them again.

  • Derek Barr

    Thanks again for pointing out the importance of treating everyone with respect and not just those people who are prepared to spend money. I keep chirping about it, but it is always nice when someone without a vested interest agrees with me.

  • KarenSD

    UPDATE: I was approached on Twitter by the other business today and I want to thank them for circling back (I’m assuming after they read this blog) and I also wanted to clarify a point that was brought up by others…

    When a business chooses to engage in real time communications platforms, there are accountabilities and consequences to not maintaining that mode of communications, and the choice they make in prioritizing their branding message or their customer response.

    IMO (in my opinion) 140 characters is 140 characters, and timeliness on Twitter absolutely matters. Choosing that priority is a business decision, and as the other business shared with me to day, experience is a great teacher…

    My intent in this post wasn’t to slag a company; it was to highlight the danger of choosing to ignore your customer, whether they’re in your store or online. Further, I also contend that if this blog wasn’t written, there probably wouldn’t have been a response at all…

    • Derek

      Only too true. However it can be very difficult being a small business owner and staying ontop of all different social media inputs (I try answer everyone, just sometimes its the next day instead of 2 mins), I can certainly see where it can be a two-edged sword.

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