A Lesson in Poor Customer Service

By now you may have heard about the woman that is being sued for $50,000 in a libel case by Horizon Realty Group in Chicago for a tweet.  If not, here are the basics.

  • On May 12th Amanda Bonnen, her account has been deleted, sent out a tweet that read in part “Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon Realty thinks it’s okay.”
  • On Monday, July 27th, Horizon Realty Group filed a $50,000 libel lawsuit against Ms. Bonnen.
  • Horizon’s Jeffrey Michael then states “We’re a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organization.” adding that the company has a “good reputation it wants to preserve.”

There you have it, the situation in a nutshell.

Why is this a lesson in poor customer service?

Well, for one, the “sue first” strategy is not a very good customer oriented strategy.  Horizon never contacted Ms. Bonnen nor did they ask her to delete the tweet, they just filed a lawsuit instead.

It is also very obvious that Horizon does not understand social media because Ms. Bonnen only had 22 Followers on Twitter.  Chances are only a fraction of those people saw the tweet which makes this lawsuit a huge overreaction.  However, I think after this fiasco and PR nightmare, Horizon Realty Group will understand the full power of social media.

Ironically, Horizon’s own website states “Over the past 25 years, we have continuously raised expectations by stressing exemplary customer service and constant improvements to our apartments.”

Apparently a $50,000 lawsuit falls under “exemplary customer service.”

How would you have handled the situation?

How will Twitter change your business?

A couple weeks ago 24/7 Wall St wrote an article entitled The Ten Ways Twitter Will Permanently Change American Business, the article centers on how Twitter benefits hyper-local marketing efforts and how it helps eliminate the need for some large scale media advertising for some businesses. It is a fascinating article and I highly recommend reading it.

As I was reading this article I began to think about how Twitter has changed my business.  Well, not being a prolific writer I came up with 5 Ways Twitter has changed my business.  Here they are:

1) Twitter has given me the opportunity to connect easily and more often with people that are local.  Not to mention the ability to actually meet and connect with people IRL (in real life) via tweetups, etc.

2) When I need product suggestions or some minor technical help, I have found myself using Twitter before Google. Reason being is that the help and/or suggestions I receive on Twitter are generally from people I know and have engaged with or met IRL. That means that I put more trust and confidence in the suggestions I get from Twitter. This is also probably the reason Google has been so interested in Twitter.

3) I have learned to be more succinct with my communication skills. Twitter does not give you the opportunity to be long winded, therefore it forces you to articulate your point in 140 characters or less.

4) Collaborating with other like minded business professionals to exchange ideas, foster innovation and support one another has been invaluable, especially during an economic downturn when it is easy to lose focus.

5) Finally, Twitter has given me another channel to connect and engage my potential and existing clients.  Which gives me a chance to learn more about them so that I can better meet their needs.

So I ask, how has Twitter changed your business?