A Customer Service What Not to Do: 1-800-Flowers

A Customer Service What Not to Do: 1-800-Flowers

May 15, 2012 8:42 pm 1 comment

UPDATE: A Facebook representative from 1800Flowers contacted me after I published this blog post offering to send the flowers free of charge. I was skeptical, but they did, in fact, send the flowers along with a box of chocolates. That is a great resolution to this fiasco – if only it didn’t take days of fighting through several channels to get it done!

A week ago, I was on YouTube and a prominent YouTuber mentioned a 1-800-Flowers promotion that helped put a little money in his pocket while simultaneously saving consumers a few bucks as well. I needed to get something for my mom for Mother’s Day, so I took advantage of the deal. I ordered a simple arrangement, paid, and got a confirmation. Like most people ordering from a recognizable brand, I thought that was that.

I met my mom Sunday night for dinner and she hadn’t received anything. It made me look bad, but I thought surely the flowers would arrive the next day. When they didn’t, I felt terrible. I called 1-800-Flowers (whose number wasn’t hard to find) fully expecting them to understand the increased inconvenience their oversight had caused with this purchase being a gift for a major holiday. Well, they didn’t.

I tried customer service and found the representative to be condescending and unapologetic. This must happen often. I asked to speak with a supervisor and was told that their phone system didn’t have the ability to transfer calls, so the supervisor would have to call me back. Strange, but ok. I waited, but the call never came. So I thought I’d give Twitter a go.

One post to Twitter about my disappointment, and a representative made contact with me within a couple minutes. I was impressed by how much they had invested into monitoring Twitter, but what I found is that it is likely an inevitable reaction to constant complaints of bad service rather than a proactive step of providing convenience for the digital consumer. At first our twonversation seemed productive. The representative was apologetic and vowed to make the situation right. Unfortunately, our ideas of a satisfactory resolution to the problem differed wildly. Their offer: a 50% refund and a 3-day late delivery. To me, that is insulting. They made a mistake that didn’t just inconvenience me – it wasn’t like I ordered a new poster for my dorm room wall – but this was a sentimental gift to express my appreciation for my mother on the national holiday to recognize her. The right thing to do would be to deliver the flowers with an apology from the company AND refund the order completely.

Sure, legally all they had to do was refund the order. But a great company would have tried to keep the customer after wronging her/him. That wasn’t the case with 1-800-Flowers. Despite messing up, they were determined not to lose a penny for their mistake. They would refund the order, costing them nothing, or they would deliver the flowers for 50% and probably make a dollar or two.

After arguing via Twitter for 12 hours, they decided that they had had enough and just told me to “have a nice day.” To rub salt in the wound, they posted to Twitter¬†publicly¬†that they were glad they could help me with my issue, as if they had resolved anything.

So, what are the takeaways?

  • It isn’t enough to use Twitter as a customer service channel in the same way you used telephones 20 years ago. The stakes are much higher and the consumer has more power to influence others.
  • Condesension will never please the customer.
  • When you mess up, admit it, and make it right rather than just trying to find a way out of the situation.


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