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April 20, 2012

How a Free Burrito Turned into A $55 Parking Ticket and a Great Customer Experience

It’s hard trying to keep up in the Age of Acceleration.  Everything is sped up.  Everything is enhanced.  Everything is scaled up.  And while it’s probably not the case that everything has accelerated (but I still can’t think of anything that hasn’t),  one thing that has definitely sped up, enhanced and scaled up is customer activities, behaviors and – most importantly – their expectations.

What may satisfy them today probably won’t satisfy them tonight.  Like how we’re used to getting free shipping when we buy stuff online, so now we're starting to expect free shipping if we need to return items too– mark my words come next Christmas (if there is a next Christmas and the Mayans were wrong) free returns are going to be a big selling point!

In the Age of Acceleration, many focus on the impact of speed on getting the attention (and money) of potential customers.  And you can’t blame for that, as 35-50% of sales go to the vendors who respond first to inquiries, according to InsideSales.com.  But where the focus on acceleration may have the most immediate impact is on customer service.

At the inaugural Social Biz Atlanta event in February, Desk.com’s SVP of Marketing Matt Trifiro did a great presentation called The Velocity of Customer Service in the Social Age.   Here are a few great nuggets he shared that really drive things home:


  • A customer who complains and has his/her issues resolved most likely will continue to buy from you.  One who complains and doesn’t have their issue resolved most likely won’t
  • Only 50% of customers will complain.  What do you do about the other half who never complain, but just go away after a bad experience?
  • 70% of customer service requests made via Twitter go unanswered
  • Providing service over social channels will increase the likelihood of reaching those customers who wouldn’t complain via the phone, which helps you keep them longer if you resolve their issue
  • In this high velocity world a dollar today is worth 12x what it is a year from now.
  • Engaging with your customers sooner and faster will yield larger revenue to your business.

These numbers and information was great, but Matt also offered up a few examples to drive the point home.  Bonobos – an online retailer and Desk.com customer – said they made the move to provide customer service over social channels about a year and half ago, and saw their overall customer request numbers go up by 20%.  They also say that 30% of all requests are coming via social channels.  So more requests overall, and a significant portion coming from social hammers the points Matt identified. 

Matt also highlighted Boloco (not to be confused with Bonobos…) , a retail chain of burrito restaurants up in Boston.  Their stated goal is to “over-service” their customers in order to provide exceptional customer experiences.  This was illustrated when they did a promo to give away 1000 burritos to the first takers.  One young lady wanted one of those free burritos so badly that she double-parked her car to try and quickly run in and get one.  The good news was she did snag a free burrito – the bad news is that free burrito ended up costing her a $55 parking ticket.  And when she tweeted about it, and a couple of friends responded to her tweet with a few of their own, the CEO of Boloco jumped in and said he’d pick up the tab for the parking ticket.


It was because of the over-service philosophy that he (and the rest of his company) were listening on social channels to provide those exceptional experiences.  And because of his actions he gained a number of happy folks on Twitter to share the story – not to mention the five local media outlets who picked it up as well.

The bottom line in the stories and other information Matt shared is that it’s important to keep up with the social customer – who’s adopting and adapting to technology in an continuously quickening pace.  And in order to do that, you have to be committed to this philosophy of over-servicing them….by all means (and channels) necessary.  And be ready to run because what works now may not be enough in the not too distant future in the Age of Acceleration.


Check out the video of Matt's presentation here:

Matt Trifiro - The Speed of Customer Service in the Social Age from Brent Leary.






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