Yeah, I know. Like Zappos needs any more social love, right? But, I have to tell you how well they handled this whole astroturfing thing. This post could also be titled “three simple steps for how to handle a mistake flawlessly.”
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about Zappos’ social storytelling and how sometimes, I think it goes too far. An employee at Zappos posted a comment on the blog about how great the service is, not disclosing that he or she is an employee, and then failed to respond to my three e-mail inquiries on the topic. So, I wrote this post about brands behaving badly and pretending to be happy customers, without disclosing that it was a Zappos thing, because I wanted to see how they handled it first.
After consulting with yet another person much smarter than I, @edwardboches, I decided to message @zappos about this, not really expecting much, given the less-than-rockstar ranking of my blog. But lo and behold, Tony Hsieh, the uber-CEO himself, responded within a day or two asking me to e-mail him the details, which I did. He looked into it right away and confirmed that the comment came from behind the Zappos firewall. He apologized, and promised to remind everyone that astroturfing is decidedly uncool. I was satisfied. Then day or two later, I got this comment on the blog:
My name is Rob Siefker and I’m the Sr. Manager for the Customer Loyalty Team (CLT) at Zappos. Thanks for writing your post, although I’m sorry someone from our team wouldn’t be transparent or forthcoming with their response to your original blog. I doubt the intent of our employee was to be misleading, but unfortunately it came across that way. I wouldn’t claim that we’re perfect, but it’s part of our culture to strive for customer service excellence. In this case, we didn’t put our best foot forward.
I’m thankful for your blog because it is a learning opportunity for us. We certainly don’t condone “astroturfing”. It’s the opposite of what we want to accomplish as a company. We’re going to remind everyone at Zappos about how important our interactions with people are to our service culture and brand. We’ll use this as an example, and hopefully it will resonate.
Thanks for your temperance and transparency. Your experience will help us be better in the future, and we appreciate that.
All the best,
This is instructive in many ways. 1) Rob says those magic little words: “I’m sorry.” right out of the gate, and admits that it was a mistake. 2) He tells us what corrective action he is going to take. 3) He comes across as very sincere, authentic, whatever you want to call it. He’s very human, not corporate. In my book, Rob could be the master of blogger relations with these three simple steps.
So, at this point, I am ultra-impressed, and ready to head to Zappos.com, even before two more very cool Zappos employees chimed in.
Nicely played, Zappos. I have come to believe that you really are “Powered by Service.”