Monday, August 01, 2011

It's not Wonderful anymore, Wondermilk

When I was younger, my sister would show me lovely photos of cupcakes designed by Wondermilk. I would stare at the delightful delicacies in awe, and kept hoping to sample one of them at least once.

Well that was then. Now, I no longer have faith towards the PR and customer service of this brand. All this began spiraling down onto the day they were rude to my sister.

Here's my sister's explanation on the scenario:
 Last Tuesday (26th July 2011), I went to their Citta Mall outlet to get cupcakes. It was my second visit to that particular outlet. My first visit was just the week before that for lunch with some colleagues. But as we were choosing the cupcakes, saw some "friends" hanging out in the cupcakes rack. There were not many, like maybe one or two where I saw them, so I did not say anything then. I decided to grab some yummy cupcakes for dessert. When I was queuing up next to the cupcake rack, I now saw that the "friends" I met has bravely "invited" more friends to hang out. This time, as it was obviously more than five, I just had to say something to the staff there. But to my amazement, not only that the staff did not apologise or explain anything, they merely pulled out the tray I pointed, "looked" at the array of cupcakes on that tray, and shoved the tray back to its place. But well, as I still wanted to have cupcakes that night, I went ahead and bought half dozen of them to take home.
Admittedly, hands-on service is quite bad. Then again, these things happen. So my sister proceeded to post her feedback on their Facebook page to point out about the incident, which roughly sounded like this:

Dear Wondermilk. Been to your outlet @ Citta Mall twice and both time I saw insects flying around inside the cupcakes rack. When I mention this to your staff on duty at that time, no one could give me answer.
(I hope that this post will not be deleted @lolachin)

They deleted her feedback.

And sent her a private message to let her know that "its unfair to embarass us with your snide remarks on our public wall when you could have easily contacted us directly via email or phone". They proceeded to request for the details of the incident, which my sis gave to them.

An excerpt of my sister's reply to them:
 I believe, by having a public facebook wall, you should be open to both positive and negative comments from your 'fans'. It's the way you respond to these comments that will make the difference.

They responded fairly quick too, according to my sister. No details will be left out here, for there are a couple of things I would like to highlight out. My comments are in red:
Wondermilk Dan Cuppacakes

We are definitely aware of the insect problem and the situation is being remedied since your last visit. Citta mall has the highest most unusual insect infestation we have encountered, no matter how many high powered insect lights we installed (we have 3 in citta alone) and pest control treatments done, the insects keep coming. Other neighboring shops are experiencing the same problems as well. Rest assured the situation is being controlled and efforts with such pest problems usually take time. ( why can't you have replied ON the feedback posted on your Facebook Page with this explanation? Saves trouble, AND you receive brand affinity from the customer for it)

On another note, we are very very open to negative comments as we appreciate each and every feedback so we can improve better but we do not appreciate ones that aim to spread bad vibes, embarrass & ridicule us and/or bring us down. (Oh really? Your words are highly contradicting here. First you admit being open to criticisms, and then you shoot yourself right at the foot with your next phrase) We realise that facebook wall is an avenue for friends to exchange unbiased views, but please bear in mind that we are a company and as professionals, matters should be dealt with professionally. Thats why we chose to contact you here privately. Theres no need for public negativity as neither party will benefit from its outcome. (In other words, do not say anything harmful to your brand, for it will not do you any good. Yes?)

How would you feel if one of your customers at your company publicly write a negative complaint about you for all to see, when the right and most ethical approach as an adult, is by informing you and dealing with you directly. (Who are you to assume that she does not know how to deal with negative criticisms? And for someone who is IN Social Media, you should be aware that a disgruntled customer would turn to Social Media to complain, and expect something that will be done) Mind you, we are no longer in high school. Try putting yourself in our shoes before you make any judgements. Something for you to think about. (Oooooh, bad move there....are you telling off your customer? Don't be so high-handed. How do you know she doesn't have any experience in PR and Social Media?)

In the future we would appreciate if you or your friends have something good or bad to say, please direct your comments and suggestions directly to our official email or call us directly. We welcome all feedback with open arms.

We truly appreciate your support.
Thank you and have a nice day.

Wondermilk (M) Sdn Bhd

When I saw this reply from them, I was pissed off. And yet, at the same time I was amused. Why? Wondermilk assumed that my sister is clueless about Business, Marketing, and Social Media. I'm here to tell you that she knows what she is doing. For you, as a brand, to assume that she had done nothing in her life, and proceeded to 'defame' you with 'snide remarks'...well, you need to re-organize your thoughts once more.

Congratulations, Wondermilk. You have lost yourself two loyal fans. No longer will I smile and excitedly want to purchase cupcakes from your brand. Not after this fiasco.

Final word from me before I end this post. I helped my sister draft out a reply to Wondermilk (apparently a bonus that I am working in Social Media lol) and so, here is the latest reply to them. Whether they reply it on their side...ah well.

Dear Wondermilk,

Thanks for the clarification. However, I'd like to point out that rather than deleting my comment on your page, you should have simply replied my feedback with your explanation as per your last message to me. Not only will it serve as a good PR practice to you, but it will also alleviate relief towards your other fans/customers who have been to that place. Plus, you will show good Social Media practice by responding to each and every feedback/complaint without deleting them.

Also, your condescending tone in your messages is distasteful. However wrong a customer may be, you should not have mentioned the following:

"Mind you, we are no longer in high school. Try putting yourself in our shoes before you make any judgements. Something for you to think about."

Bad move. As a brand, you should apply more tact with your words. Why are you assuming that I do not know what PR and social media is all about, especially for brands and companies? If you must know, part of my job is to monitor and deal with online social media feedback. The key is to NOT delete any feedback (unless it's vulgar and offensive to others) but to respond accordingly to assure the commenter that the issue is well taken care of.

Besides that, your words very much contradicted each other. You stated that you are highly open to negative comments as feedback, and yet you have deleted mine. Please define your terms of bad vibes, embarrassment or ridiculing posts towards your brand. How was it that my wall post falls into that category?  (Looks like we may not know as the post is there no more.) I'm very much aware that I did NOT use any vulgarity or obscenities in my feedback, and neither am I harshly judging your brand unreasonably without any solid grounds. The intention was all to seek for a solution to my query, which was on the flying insects.

And since you have asked me to "think about it", allow me to provide you some pointers to think about as well:

Deal with Negative Feedback

Here's one that should interest you greatly. I have even extracted a pointer for you:

Negative Brand Sentiment

"Never make it personal. If and when conflict escalates, never make it personal. Never attack the person, even if he or she attacks you personally. Keep the conversation focused on the issues."

My final question is this: If you are unable to accept all types of feedback (minus vulgarity, obscenity, racism, and defamation) why do you have a Facebook fan page in the first place? Or in the very least, do not open your page for fans to post comments. Keep it to yourself for updates and posts. Once you make it public, always be prepared to respond to ANY queries and criticism posted there.

Well, I've said what I needed to say. With this episode, you have somehow successfully made me think less of your brand. No matter how much I love your cupcakes and your cafe, unless something has changed for the better, it's no longer my cafe choice with family or friends.

Best regards

Apparently they replied to this one heck of a long message shortly after that:

Thank you for your reply and pointers. Much appreciated.
Again we would like to apologize for your recent experience with us. We thank you for your understanding and hope you will consider us again in the future.

Best regards,
Wondermilk (M) Sdn Bhd

Who's right and who's wrong? You'll be the judge of it :)

Original post can be found here, if you want to read the full story without any of my colorful interruptions

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