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Thursday, March 19, 2015

How to drive people AWAY from your brand with social media

Thursday, March 19, 2015 By

This is a personal experience story that I like to call "You're Doing it Wrong." If you came here for a tight little bulleted list or pithy infographic, you've clearly never read my blog before. :-)

AUGUSTA, GA. - I'm sure the social media team at Whirlpool had good intentions. On a Saturday, when I tweeted my frustration at being unable to get to the thermal fuse off one of their dryers so that I could replace it, they actually tweeted back in a direct message, asking how they could help.

    Me: Wow, I was just whining but this is great! Replacing thermal fuse. Can't get drum out to get to it. No rear panel access. Belt off, drum stuck.

   Me: Seems connected at bottom of felt liner but can't see where or how. All web resources say same: it should lift right out. But it won't.

    Whirlpool: Please DM your name, address, ph# & the model & serial number so we can review this for you. Thank you.

    Me: Okay! It would be great if there was a technician who could tell me how to do it! I don't have the money to buy a new dryer right now, so I need to repair this one.

    Whirlpool: Thank you! We'll be in touch with you after looking into this further.

    Me: I really appreciate your responsiveness!

See the heating element? That's what I need to get to in order to
replace the thermal fuse. Only I can't get the drum out.

On Wednesday, a team member actually called me to help!

    Whirlpool: We'd like to offer you a special code to buy a new dryer at a discount.

    Me: Um, well, that's very nice of you, thank you. I'll be happy to take a look at that, but it's really not in the budget right now. If someone could please just tell me how to get the drum the rest of the way off, that will probably do it for me.

    Whirlpool: We don't really have anyone who can do that. But I can send you a list of repair providers in your area.

    Me (long pause): Sure, fine. Thanks.

Really, Whirlpool?

First of all, I find it hard to believe that, in the whole multinational company that makes dryers, you don't have anyone who can say, "There's a bolt under the drum. You can't see it from the front. You have to stick your hand in there, totally blind, and feel around for it." Or whatever the problem is. I don't know, I haven't figured it out yet, and my dryer is still in frickin' pieces.

Second, I didn't ask you for help in purchasing a new dryer. I need to get ONE PART off, then I can repair your broken-down dryer MYSELF. Well... assuming I can get it all back together again. But you designed this dryer with no rear panel access. Thanks a heap.

Third, they actually caused more frustration than they addressed. As I shopped around, the discount ended up being probably $50 less than Lowe's, Home Depot, HH Gregg, and Best Buy - although Lowe's has a price match guarantee, and I didn't check to see if they'd honor this one. I appreciate that Whirlpool reached out. I appreciate that they offered a discount. But the follow-through of their outreach went from "We can help," to "J/K we're not going to help. Give us money."

That's terrible in several ways. First, it's tone deaf. Second, it ignores my actual request. Third, offering to help me find repair services in my area tells me that you think I'm an idiot who can't use Google or Yelp. Or even the Yellow Pages, for you throwbacks out there.

Finally, it reeks of sales management ambition. You just know that about five years ago some 25-year-old junior territory manager made a very nervous presentation to senior management called "Using the Social Media Sales Funnel to Eliminate Missed Opportunities." Buzzwords and phrases included "Millenials," "revenue impact," "meet them where they are" and "controlling the conversation." All the senior management cheered at this new, extra-super-crass way of moving a few dozen extra units every year, and the junior territory manager was given a raise and a promotion to Associate Sales Director for North America. Now the Boomers at the top introduce him as their "social media guru," and he actually puts that on his name badge at conferences. "Dave, Whirlpool, Social Media Guru." All the while, some NEW 25-year-old junior territory manager named Logan is watching for an opening for his OWN presentation titled, "Social Media 2.0: Closing the Sales Gap." Dave better hope one of those lingering Boomers retires in the next few months so that people start to shuffle upwards again. Hope you catch the wave, Dave.

Hmm... Maybe I overthink things. Maybe I had inflated expectations. Maybe my frustration with the repair process is clouding my ability to appreciate the $50 discount on the fictitious dryer - fictitious because, as I told them in our DM conversation, buying a new dryer isn't in the budget right now. It might as well be a $50 discount on a Lear Jet for all the difference it makes.

Eventually, I'll be able to budget for a new dryer. First I need to budget for new tires, the removal of a few suspicious moles, and some minor dental work.

But when I do go shopping for a new dryer... I think I'll go with Maytag.


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