One sure way to lose customers on and off social media

Last week, I was out car shopping for a small, fuel-efficient vehicle that I could use to do my business travel and reduce our gas usage every month. My husband and I had a list of dealerships we wanted to visit and we knew what we wanted to accomplish at each one of them. We had really good experiences at the first two dealerships. Then Matt sprung a stop on me that I wasn’t expecting. He’d put a car on the list that wasn’t ever an option in my mind, but I was game to check it out.

I didn’t really have a lot of interest in being there, so I let Matt take the lead. He approached the hostess and inquired about the car we wanted to look at. The doubtful look she gave him was my first clue that this might not go well. After a couple of minutes, she returned to say they didn’t have an available demo model for us to test drive. That was fine with us - we had a different purpose in mind. 

A few minutes later, the sales person came out, but his demeanor gave me the impression he wasn’t really interested in helping us. His words confirmed this. There was one model of the car on the lot. He explained that it had sold, but we could take a look at it. We said that would be fine - we didn’t want to test drive it. Then he said that he didn’t know where the key was and he’d looked for it a day or two before and couldn’t find it. (Yes, the car that had sold apparently had no key.) At this point, we cut off the conversation and left as quickly as we could extricate ourselves.

We were literally saying goodbye as we walked away. It’s hard to convey in text how disinterested the staff was at this dealership was. When I texted Lara, she was surprised and suggested a different dealership for the same car maker. But I was done. I knew I could get what I wanted without inconveniencing myself with a drive across town.

The lack of interest exhibited by the staff at that dealership means that they’ve lost my business, and so did the car maker, despite knowing the car maker to be reputable with very loyal customers. They didn’t completely ignore us, but they may as well have.

Just as it is crucial for businesses to pay attention to the needs of their customers and respond to them appropriately in person, it is essential to do so through social media channels. The truth is, an abandoned or unused Facebook, Twitter or other social channel indicates disinterest to your audience. It’s really no different than customers walking in to your storefront and being ignored.

This situation at the dealership reminded me of an incident a friend described to me recently with a totally different dealership that has been ignoring their Twitter account and repeated efforts to address a serious customer service issue - through multiple channels (not just social media). Last I heard, that dealership had lost my friend’s business as well.

Customers who feel the lack of interest don’t stick around - and neither will your audience.