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Business Communication with Cengage Learning


  • COO to Customer: "I am not sorry our employees were enjoying the holidays"

    The COO and co-founder of a metal water bottle company won points by pushing back on a customer's Facebook rant. The customer's all-caps post made Liberty Bottleworks sound unresponsive, but Ryan Clark tells a different story. Addressing the customers' "numerous voicemails and emails," Clark's response skillfully quotes one of her messages: "It is the holidays. You should be working." (Correct punctuation added!) Clark's post defends his employees: "Family first, product second." Since this exchange was posted on Reddit, Liberty Bottleworks wrote a Facebook message that the company has received record call volumes. Social media hopefuls correlate Clark's reaction and praise him for NOT following conventional wisdom of appeasing customers online. Image source . Discussion Starters: Assess the customer's post. What, if any, part of her message could be justified? Also assess Clark's Facebook response: what works well, and what could be improved? Help Clark improve his business writing skills. Rewrite his message with clearer organization and proper punctuation.
  • The Worst Airline Has the Fewest Complaints

    Why does Southwest have such bad performance stats but the fewest complaints ? According to the Bureau of Transportation, Southwest ranks last in on-time departures, mishandled baggage, and denied boardings, yes it gets the fewest complaints. The data may surprise you considering each airline's reputation. We seem to think of Southwest as a customer service superstar—and it is when it comes to complaints, with the fewest of the bunch. One theory for this disconnect is that Southwest's interactions compensate for its other disappointing metrics: Image source . Discussion Starters: Do you agree with the theory that Southwest gets the fewest complaints because of how employees treat customers? What are other possible theories? Conversely, look at United's number of complaints. Does that make sense, given that airline's other metrics?
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  • Can Lululemon Do Anything Right?

    Once again, Lululemon is facing an angry crowd. Earlier this week, the company poked fun at a not-for-profit organization . Now, after many, many complaints of declining quality of its high-end yoga clothes, the founder seems to be blaming customers . In an interview with Bloomberg TV , Chip Wilson said, "Frankly, some women's bodies just don't actually work [for the yoga pants]," and "It's more really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time, how much they use it." He didn't quite say that some women were too big for the pants, but he seemed to imply that women choose sizes that are too small. Comments on Lululemon's Facebook page called Wilson's comments "insensitive" and more: Update: Founder Chip Wilson posted this apology video: Discussion Starters: Wilson may have a legitimate point: what is it? On the other hand, how could he have expressed it differently? On behalf of Wilson, write an apology that he might post to the Lululemon Facebook page. How can he win back customers, some of whom are already turned off by the brand?
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  • "Socially Devoted" Brands on Twitter

    Which brands are most responsive to customers on Twitter? Socialbakers released its view of the top five companies . Although Nike answered a higher percentage of questions, JetBlue clearly is leading in response time, with an impressive 13 minutes. With so many more followers, it may not be possible for the company to beat Nike's rate. Socialbakers also looked at the most engaged industries on Twitter, again using percentage of questions answered as the metric. Although an imperfect measure, response rate is better than looking at the number of followers, which had been the prevailing metric of engagement for some time. At least with this data, human intervention is considered. Discussion Starters: What, if anything, surprises you about the companies' and industries' level of "social devotion"? I say that response rate is an imperfect measure. Why do you think this is the case? What other metrics could be used to determine companies' success on Twitter?
  • PR Firm Apologizes to Citizens of Hamilton, Ontario

    It's embarrassing when a PR firm doesn't know the city its hired to represent. Dialogue Partners is trying to regain credibility for the company—and for the city of Hamilton, Ontario. Contracted for $376,000, the Dialogue Partners began working on "Our Voice, Our Hamilton," a public engagement project. But the firm made several missteps that drew strong criticism from Hamilton citizens: On the Twitter account, @ourhamilton , a company representative asked "What is HSR?" The correct answer is, Hamilton Street Railway, the city's transit system, a basic fact that a PR firm should know. The firm said it just was clarifying information. Posted on the company's Pinterest board is a photo of Hamilton, Ohio, a long ways from Ontario. The firm said it didn't post the image. The firm's website displayed malicious comments, and the company blamed a hacker and took the site down temporarily. Representative Sam Merulla called the company "a stranger to competence," is hoping to avoid paying the bill, and is planning to bring the campaign in-house. Dialogue Partners has been listening and responding. In an open letter to Hamilton citizens , the firm apologized and asked for forgiveness: "We hope that you'll give this important conversation a chance." The company also posted a very long, explanatory blog post . A managing partner said, "We are humbled by the loudness of the voices we've heard. We totally want to acknowledge the missteps we've made." Discussion Starters: How could the city have prevented this PR disaster? What could Dialogue Partners have done differently? Assess the firm's letter to citizens . In what ways does it work well as an apology letter, and in what ways could it be improved?
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  • Bank of America Gets Slammed for Losing Death Certificate Three Times

    In what sounds like an astounding lack of decent service, Bank of America has given the son of a deceased woman more than the usual run around . Matt, a college student, lost his mother on October 1. Since then, he has been fighting with the bank to deal with the mortgage on her property. According to Matt, as told to The Consumerist , the bank has lost several copies of the woman's death certificate: "The first call ended after the associate we were speaking to told us that the only person they could talk to was the person who was listed on the mortgage: my mother. "Since she was deceased, that’s obviously not possible, so we explained 'death' to the person we were speaking to. They said they had to talk to my mother, we decided it was hopeless, and gave up. "We later got on the phone with someone else who said to send them a copy of the death certificate. They lost that one. Then they lost the next one. Then they lost the third, hand-delivered, death certificate. They finally managed to get the death certificate to a filing cabinet on the fourth try. They sent a letter acknowledging they had received the death certificate, but still they asked to speak with the person on the mortgage." Curiously, Bank of America was criticized recently for requesting a death certificate of a customer who isn't dead. A filmmaker created a short video explaining that "Bank of America wants you to die before you modify" a mortgage loan. This could explain why, on the Customer Service Scoreboard , Bank of America is rated 25.91 out of 200 (compared to Zappos , rated 186). The site includes 1131 negative comments and 46 positive comments—not a great showing. Image source . Discussion Starters: What gives the consumer credibility in his assessment? In other words, how do we know that Matt is likely telling the truth about what has happened? As of this writing, I don't see a response from Bank of America about the situation with Matt. If you were the head of customer service for the bank, would you write a statement about the situation? If so, what would you include?
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  • Poor Timing for Qantas Twitter Contest

    Australian airline Qantas had good intentions when it promoted a "Qantas Luxury" competition, but the contest was a big failure . Qantas encouraged tweeters to submit creative answers: Ever wanted to experience Qantas First Class luxury? You could win a First Class gift pack fe at, a luxury amenity kit and our famous QF PJs. To enter tell us What is your dream luxury inflight experience? (Be creative!) Answer must include #QantasLuxury. The request came in the midst of trouble between the company and the Transport Workers Union. Just hours after the company announced a negotiation break-down, @QantasAirways announced the contest. Also, travelers were still angry over a flight that was grounded last month over labor issues. There was no shortage of sarcastic tweets, many angry about being stranded less than a month ago. Attempting humor, @QantasAirways acknowledged the failed contest: Discussion Starters: This isn't the first time that Qantas was criticized for its Twittering . Do you connect these stories in some way? How could Qantas have avoided this situation? How can Qantas now use Twitter or other social networking sites to rebuild its image?