Times have changed and so has the way businesses do business. Companies are using social media to help them build their brand, find customers, and reach new markets. According to the 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, “94% of all businesses with a marketing department used social media as part of their marketing platform” (Stelzner). Retail businesses have proven to be a great way to (re)direct shopper’s experience. With the rise of smartphones, customers are using social media more than ever, “Facebook and Twitter are among the favorites since 48% of customers respond to retailer posts” (Stelzner). While retailers are using social media for marketing purposes, they often fail to realize the full potential social media has, especially in customer relations.
An area that is often overlooked by retailers is the use of social media for customer relations. According to a research done by Oracle, in today’s world 35% of businesses don’t integrate social media for sales or customer service (Oracle 4). Social media can benefit retailers in many ways, but they can also negatively affect them. The customer’s voice is becoming louder because of social media, and customer complaints no longer remain in a small group of people: they go viral. According to Lauren Paxman, this happened to Keara O’Neal who was on a shopping trip to find bridesmaid dresses for her wedding at the high-end store GASP. At the beginning the sales assistant, Chris, was very helpful trying to find her dresses, but then he turned aggressive by pressuring her to get the dress; he even turned disrespectful by ridiculing her size 12 and made inappropriate comments such as “Have fun shopping at Supre… I knew you were a joke the minute you walked in”. This upset shopper left the store and then wrote a formal complaint email to GASP management talking about her negative experience. Instead of admitting the mistake, manager Matthew Chidgey, blamed it on her saying that the problem concerning the assistant was that he is too good at what he does: “As I am sure you are aware, people whom are talented generally do not tolerate having their time wasted which is the reason you were provoked to leave the store”. Moreover, the manager bragged about how GASP sells mainly to celebrities and therefore has no interest in selling clothing to non-famous people. The story went viral thanks to social media, and soon their Facebook page was flooded with negative comments worldwide to the point that it was shut down. Angry customers even created Facebook pages like “We hate GASP” or “Boycott GASP”. GASP later apologized but it was already too late, the damage was done. Months later the store closed and today it no longer exists (Paxman). Retail businesses should keep in mind that when people go shopping, popularity and image are important; nobody wants to shop in unpopular stores. Being able to manage customer relations with social media can convince people to buy from you...