Last week, I chronicled my experience dealing with Sears Automotive over the course of the month of September. I decided to use this as an experiment in social media to see what kind of response I would get from Sears by writing the blog and then seeing what attention I could garner by promoting it online.
While the ordeal was going on, my friend Joy was researching the names and addresses of the upper echelon of the Sears Corporation. When I was growing up, my father was known to write such letters when he was dissatisfied with the service an organization, to the point where he and my mother were asked to be arbitrators for the Better Business Bureau, but this just seemed to old media to me and to me, old media is slow, clunky and takes too long to get results. Instead, I wanted to take this new media.
The first step was to write the blog post. I needed this launching point to get my story out there in more characters than would fit on twitter, facebook or any other social media service. Once it was crafted, the next step was to publicize it on twitter. The first tweet was simple. No drawing attention to itself, just quite simply saying I had a bad experience with Sears Automotive. If Sears was truly new media savvy, they would be monitoring for all mentions of their brand and be ready to respond. To be fair, I did post it late Thursday night and didn’t expect immediacy that night.
Friday morning brought no response from Sears, so it was time for the second promotion. I hashtagged the tweet with “#Sears #SearsSucks #FuckSears #SearsBlows.” For the uninitiated, hashtags are used on twitter as search terms for easy reference. Again, Sears didn’t notice that someone was using their brand as a search term, as well as detrimental versions. It got notice of those people who questioned my usage and social media customer service, but it didn’t get noticed by the one organization who should have.
The final tweet of the day was the one I thought would get the most attention. I searched using the Twitter Search and Google to find every Sears and Sears related twitter account I could find and added “cc:” with their usernames. Any decent brand would be able to click Mentions in their account and see that someone was sending a message with their name in it. Still nothing. I was amazed that Sears still had not seen a single thing I was writing, even when trying to draw their attention to it.
On Monday, I took the final steps. I looked for every Facebook group for Sears and posted a link to my blog with a message saying “Sears Automotive lied to me, wasted 12 hours of my time and damaged my car” with a link to the blog. Someone saw that and sent me a message on twitter saying to try the mysears account on twitter, so I sent one more tweet and suddenly my blog was being noticed by someone at Sears. After commenting in my blog, I was finally exchanging emails not only with Denise (who commented in my blog), but with the Regional and District Managers that she got me in contact with. After a couple phone conversations with the District Manager, in which he wanted to keep my business, he offered to replace the missing grill and give me two free oil changes. Additionally, he was on top of it with the manager, so I was able to call ahead, have the grill waiting for me and the manager came out to meet me and personally put the grill in.
While I do feel that Sears put right what the broke on my car, I feel like they were a social media failure. It was hard to search out the mySears to get their attention, when they should have been using the Sears account on twitter, which would be the obvious place to look for them. They also were not looking out for what people were saying about their brand until someone actively looked for them. I am tech savvy and it still took me a few days to find a way to get in touch (but to be fair, they did respond to my facebook post in the Sears group after Denise commented on my blog), but instead of me searching for them, they should have been watching and got in touch with me long before I ever had to go searching.