A Lesson in Poor Customer Service

by D. Patrick Lewis on July 28, 2009 · 3 comments

By now you may have heard about the woman that is being sued for $50,000 in a libel case by Horizon Realty Group in Chicago for a tweet.  If not, here are the basics.

  • On May 12th Amanda Bonnen, her account has been deleted, sent out a tweet that read in part “Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon Realty thinks it’s okay.”
  • On Monday, July 27th, Horizon Realty Group filed a $50,000 libel lawsuit against Ms. Bonnen.
  • Horizon’s Jeffrey Michael then states “We’re a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organization.” adding that the company has a “good reputation it wants to preserve.”

There you have it, the situation in a nutshell.

Why is this a lesson in poor customer service?

Well, for one, the “sue first” strategy is not a very good customer oriented strategy.  Horizon never contacted Ms. Bonnen nor did they ask her to delete the tweet, they just filed a lawsuit instead.

It is also very obvious that Horizon does not understand social media because Ms. Bonnen only had 22 Followers on Twitter.  Chances are only a fraction of those people saw the tweet which makes this lawsuit a huge overreaction.  However, I think after this fiasco and PR nightmare, Horizon Realty Group will understand the full power of social media.

Ironically, Horizon’s own website states “Over the past 25 years, we have continuously raised expectations by stressing exemplary customer service and constant improvements to our apartments.”

Apparently a $50,000 lawsuit falls under “exemplary customer service.”

How would you have handled the situation?

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{ 1 trackback }

WTF is the “true power” of social media? | tdhurst
July 28, 2009 at 6:08 pm

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jay Thompson July 28, 2009 at 10:53 am

Here’s an idea on how to handle it.

Pick up the phone and call Ms. Bonnen. Open with, “Let’s talk about how we can fix this issue” and see where it goes from there.

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2 D. Patrick Lewis July 28, 2009 at 12:32 pm

I agree, I am amazed at how far communication will get you.

It is their attitude in general that is really offensive and makes me wonder how they stayed in business this long.

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