Badly handled customer complaints on Facebook and Twitter are two-a-penny. What’s less common is the way in which some brands are successfully using the social and informal nature of social media to publicly respond to customer complaints with humour to increase customer engagement, raise awareness of their company and encourage their visibility on social media, whilst having some fun as well.
Take a recent Skyscanner conversation that went viral. A glitch in their online system indicated a 47-year layover for a customer who jokingly asked Skyscanner for recommendations to pass the time. The mock-serious response was tongue in cheek, and has so far scored 8.9k+ likes on Facebook. The conversation continued and saw an impressive amount of pickup; 22k+ likes, 1.2k+ comments and 3.5k+ shares, and one user commented “I’ve never used Skyscanner before but after reading this thread, I’m so there”. A Skyscanner spokeswoman said that the company “never imagined the Facebook discussion between Jen and James would gain this much interest,” but “being able to deal with customers’ questions while building relations with them is key.”
The companies leading the charge in witty customer responses are FMCG brands like Sainsbury’s and Tesco. Several instances of hilarious exchanges can be found on Facebook and Twitter. Customer service representatives are using wordplay, sarcasm and irony and the results are incredible levels of pickup on social media. Comments on a viral Sainsbury’s conversation (30k+ likes, 23.8k+ shares) where a woman gets into a hilariously exaggerated exchange with a customer care worker named Ross about finding a worm in her lettuce similarly indicate the popularity of humorous exchanges, with one user commenting “Sainsbury’s has just become the place to shop. Ross this is how you sell a company.”
Clearly, viral exchanges are driving positive reactions to brands who respond in these ways. Wit humanises the company and helps to forge relationships with the customer. Responses that are funny can attract attention from both individuals and the media, encourage brand recognition and earn the respect of the online community. It’s showing that customer support on social media can be a cost-effective and easy way of getting people talking about your company and engage with your brand.
The response from the Sainsbury’s lettuce thread original poster sums it up perfectly when she writes “Ross, you are an absolute legend, not for the free stuff, for the humour. Much love. Absolutely amazing.”