Last Friday, the Living Social Daily Deal for Detroit featured a Concealed Weapon License. When I first saw this deal, my immediate reaction was that of amusement, and I quickly posted a sarcastic tweet in response to the deal and the ‘state of Detroit.’ I’ve lived in and visited Detroit several times over the years, and my impression of the city, post-government bailouts for the auto and banking industry, quietly provokes images of the stage set for RoboCop. My remarks were intended to reflect my perception of the deteriorating economy and situation in Detroit and were oblivious and without consideration to the recent violence that took place in Tucson, Arizona.
I spend a lot of time on LinkedIn and opt-in to features such as detailed tracking, which allows me to see who has viewed my profile. Using this feature, I was able to see that a pair of Living Social Consumer Advocates had recently viewed my profile. I didn’t make any connection between my tweet and Twitter profile (which lists my LinkedIn profile as my website) and the fact that Living Social employees had visited my profile.
Eight hours after my cynical Tweet, I received the following email from a Living Social Customer Advocate: Living Social’s customer service department saw my tweet, interpreted it as a negative remark, and quickly found an off-Twitter means to contact me and rectify the situation. Given the popularity of Living Social, I am amazed at the response time and the individual attention provided by its staff.
Just a short explanation of why this event was even an issue: many social coupon sites are actual businesses, not just bootstrapped daily-updated applications. There’s a schedule with queued deals for given regions, and planed emails, tweets and communication for deals. Most of this process is automated once the business relationship between Living Social and the company offering the deal is agreed upon. It is impossible to predict the course of current events when establishing planned communication tactics for deals. The notification I received for the new deal was also automated. If a social coupon site like Living Social were obligated (by law or user expectations) to update the availability of its daily specials for every region depending on current events around the world, the business couldn’t function.
I think Living Social’s reaction and customer service process is stellar; Living Social went above and beyond to ensure my happiness and satisfaction with its brand. However, I will admit that I was initially frustrated and thought that this communication was a violation of my privacy. My initial reaction was, wait, how did Living Social get my email address? I didn’t think that I had provided any contact information to Living Social or opted-in to its email list. So, even though this is an example of outstanding customer service, it does raise some privacy issues. First of all, did Living Social have the right to send me an email? If Living Social was concerned about a Tweet, would it have been more appropriate for brand managers to respond via that same communication channel? Should situations be handled and diffused via public channels (Twitter), or should they be resolved via a private email?
When you post information online, you accept that it will be visible. Depending on the application, platform and selected privacy settings, information will be visible to the entire Internet or to just a defined circle of connections. My wonderful customer experience from Living Social didn’t ask that I buy something, didn’t solicit me to try some service it offers, and it didn’t even address whether I was a Living Social customer. The Living Social Consumer Advocate simply said sorry and wanted to be sure everything between the brand and myself was cool. And, we are in fact cool.