My family was heading from the West Coast of Canada to London, Ontario to visit my folks and sister. When I looked up London on Google for road directions and places of interest, it mentioned the head office for STIHL Power Equipment was located just south of the city. The website even had a special web page inviting customers to come for a visit. It’s located under Corporate-> Contact Us -> Your route to STIHL. Great! It would be cool to drop by for a visit. I considered myself a connoisseur of well-made equipment (Even though I only possess a few machines). So, in a nutshell, I was thrilled to go for a tour. The trip was at least 3 weeks away, so why not shoot them an email and see if a visit/day/time could be arranged? An email was sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. 3 Weeks went by and no answer. Flew out to London, had a great visit with family and came home.
A few days later, I sent STIHL Canada a follow-up email and mentioned how I was disappointed there was no response. Guess what, someone responded! I was given a generic reply… “sorry for missing your message and next time when you’re in London, drop by for a visit” Really! Maybe in 4 years. Flights in Canada are really expensive. The distance we flew was equivalent to Seattle, WA to Detroit, MI, at $740/person return. (It cost us more money to fly to Ontario than it would to fly to Hawaii.)
The generic reply really ticked me off. It’s typical, “copy and paste” reply for social media. A quick answer to make the customer go away. When it comes to social media, you have to engage your customer and reply within 24 hours of a question. Always follow-up and offer alternatives. For example, I missed the chance for an in-person visit, but, maybe there was a special event, like a tool tradeshow happening nearby. It would be handy to know for the customer and an opportunity for the retailer to get to know the customer. It’s a simply marketing technic, drill down and gather more data. Maybe even generate a future sale.