I came across this story on the Consumerist, a blog that gives wronged consumers a platform to air their grievances. It’s also the 38th most popular blog in the world. In short, the customer bought a bottle of Benetint for $28. The bottle’s cap broke and she had to throw the bottle away. She felt deeply enough about this failure to write Benefit cosmetics and in return got a “sorry” and a “please give us another chance” but no reimbursement. So she forwarded the correspondence to the Consumerist.
The post has probably been read by thousands and has generated (as of today) 28 comments, each with a few replies. Many of the commenters have vowed never to buy Benefit products again.
I think there are two social marketing mistakes that Benefit made in in handling this case, ignoring what I believe is a huge mistake in not overnighting a replacement product to her right away. If she felt strongly enough about the product’s failure to write a complaint, Benefit should have utilized that passion to promote a positive brand experience, not a negative one.
The first “social faux pas” is that Benefit answered very flippantly in their reply and did not seem to take the customer’s complaints seriously. Having decided not to reimburse the customer, at least explain your position and treat the customer with respect. At least a third of all the replies to the blog post were appalled at Benefit’s choice of a farewell: “Laughter is the best cosmetic, so grin and wear it.” Emails are made to be forwarded, so assume you’re writing a press release and choose words carefully!!
The second very glaring omission is that Benefit is not part of this conversation. Benefit did not comment on the post and did not attempt to contact the customer. Companies need to realize that the conversation about their brand will take place regardless of whether they participate or not, whether they host it or not. Speak up!