The customer isn’t always right and it’s ok to tell them!

On Wednesday a customer tweeted the @cineworld account complaining about the price of their tickets and asking them to justify it while also accusing them of deleting his previous tweet.

If you haven’t heard what happened next then you’re in for a shock. Most corporate accounts would send some sort of generic response saying how they were sorry blah blah blah. However Cineworld didn’t, they challenged him on how they might be able to delete his tweet (they can’t) and what sort of justification he was looking for as the ticket price is the ticket price! This then escalated into a full debate between the customer and Cineworld, with the Cineworld account more than holding it’s own and at times pushing the boundaries (but never going to far for me).

The customer clearly wasn’t expecting this and moved to the usual demeaning of the account and accusing them of being a child. You can read the full conversation here and I’d recommend it as it’s pretty funny and very interesting.

Twitter has been pretty active on the topic today, with lots of different opinions. Many of them saying it was wrong. I’ve felt like a Cineworld employee as I’ve been going round defending them. I think this is a great example of how the customer isn’t always right and brands don’t always need to apologise.

We live in a culture where the person who is most offended is the one that is seen as having the moral high ground. It’s almost become the norm that if you’re offended then you’re right. It’s ok to be offended, it’s your opinion…just like it’s my opinion that I’m not offended. Read Ricky Gervais’ tweets on any day and you’ll see examples of people offended by his views expecting him to ‘repent’. (Granted, Gervais plays up to it and looks for trouble!)

A lot of the negative feedback has been that the tone is wrong, but this is coming from people who have no idea what the agreed tone for the twitter account is. Until they have seen what the guidelines are for the person in charge of the account then it’s difficult to know if the tone was wrong. If you look at the O2 account or the Tesco customer service account then you might think the tone is wrong…but they’re clearly aiming for that type of chatty and fun content.

In reality, there’s no right way of conversing on Twitter (however there are wrong ways!) and it’s up to each company/person to create a tone that works for them. The important thing, is that once you make that decision you stick to it. If the next time someone complains, Cineworld send out a generic blank response then that will be the bigger crisis!

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About Steven Murgatroyd

Northern Social Media and Comms enthusiast.
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2 Responses to The customer isn’t always right and it’s ok to tell them!

  1. Jon says:

    Having now read the full conversation between Cineworld and their customer I take the opposite view Steven. Customers rant on Twitter and I don’t think any company that challenges and provokes them so publically will ever come up smelling of roses. A short (yes, even generic) acknowledgement of their concern, perhaps with a genuine invitation to take the conversation offline would be the most appropriate response in my opinion.

    A fullscale challenge and debate does not lend itself to 140 characters – I quickly became irritated by the futile attempts of both sides to wind each other up. This exchange spanned over 10 hours, during which time neither party would have been particularly productive.

    I think this is is destined to become another case study in the ‘how not to respond to your customers on twitter’ training manual.

    The correct place to have a debate on this is here on your excellent blog, not on Twitter. You cannot hold a thorough and reasoned discussion on Twitter. You can of course express an opinon on there and point people in the direction of a place where you can. Which is why I’m here now 😉

    • Glad the signposting works Jon :)!

      I understand where you’re coming from and having read through it a few times, it probably did go on for a bit too long. However, once Cineworld took that stance of challenging then they couldn’t really back down.

      I’m sure their sales aren’t going to be affected by this, and in an example of how to divide opinion and get people talking about you, then this is perfect. As Oscar Wilde said “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.”

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