Select Comfort learns the real power of Twitter

If you didn’t read yesterday’s entry, start there.

Select Comfort is based in Minnesota

Select Comfort’s corporate headquarters is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Above is the traffic map for my site today. The darker the green, the higher the percentage of traffic originated there. Needless to say, my Twitter campaign to better inform potential Select Comfort customers was being heard in Minneapolis.

Let’s start with last night. I tweeted out the link to my writeup of yesterday’s events. So while my blog may only get a 50 visits a day, my 150 followers and another 170 Facebook friends were exposed to the link. Shortly thereafter, a Twitter colleague with 700+ followers picked it up and retweeted it. Let’s round that down to 1000 people that saw the link last night. This morning, a follower of that person also retweeted it, and he had 5300 followers. So in less than 12 hours, The story had been promoted to 6000 people. Social. Networking.

Then I said to myself, Select Comfort is a public company. Investors might care to know about how the company is treating their customers. Maybe I should send something out to StockTwits.com. And Yahoo Finance. And Google Finance.

And I retweeted a couple responses I got.

# RT @radiochick57: @DerekPunaro thanks for the tip on the bed. I was thinking just an ordinary sealy pillowtop medium firmness 🙂
about 13 hours ago from TweetDeck

RT @Maumekim: Thanks, we did. Thought my back was going to break! Took mins 2 take money but refund takes 3 wks? Were still out $700
about 13 hours ago from TweetDeck

As promised, I also continued my interaction with their customers.

@justinsallen @aegies Avoid the Select Comfort Sleep Number beds! When they break, you’re in for a big expense! http://bit.ly/Yqpk3
about 8 hours ago from TweetDeck in reply to justinsallen

@BarryJMoon Consider returning your sleep number bed before the 30 days is up. Parts will break and after 2 yrs it’ll cost big $$ to fix it!
about 11 hours ago from TweetDeck in reply to BarryJMoon

Later in the day I thought, why not tweet up a couple celebs? They have a ton of followers and maybe one would retweet my link. They didn’t, but they could have.

Hey @rainnwilson The Office should do a show on the suckiness of Select Comfort Sleep Number beds: http://bit.ly/Yqpk3

Hey @terrellowens81 – when you get a house, don’t get a Select Comfort bed! Customer Service sucks. http://bit.ly/Yqpk3

Hey @TPIRhost – you don’t give away Select Comfort beds on the show, do you? Customer service sucks: http://bit.ly/Yqpk3

Then I found @sarapanus a PR exec at Select Comfort. I just made sure she saw the link as well, since really this was no longer a customer service issue. Now it was a PR issue.

At about 3:30pm the phone rang, and the caller ID said “Select Comfort”. Gladly, I picked it up.

[paraphrased]
“Hi this is Amy from Select Comfort. I understand you have a pump that needs to be replaced? I can help you with that and send you a new one.”

“Well, I talked to someone in customer service yesterday about this and the issue was over the fact that I was going to be responsible for part of the cost. You’re probably already aware of that, though.”

“I’m sorry sir. I don’t have all the details, I was just told that you need a new pump. I can send this one to you at no cost to you.”

“Really? Yesterday I was told that managers and supervisors didn’t have the authority to work outside the terms of the warranty. What is your role at Select Comfort?”

“I’m a supervisor. I can send you this unit at no cost. [standard warranty script here]. I just want to be clear that any future issues are subject to the terms of your warranty.”

“That’s fine. Thank you very much.”

I then confirmed my information, got an RMA number, and wished her a nice day.

So, I got what I set out for – a replacement of a faulty part. A small personal victory, but a big lesson and a net loss for Select Comfort. Consider this…

Had a customer service representative – ANY customer service representative – been authorized to think outside the script, this thing would have all been over yesterday. Didn’t have to be the Twitter rep, they could have referred me to someone else. Or while I was on the phone with them, I could have been transferred to a supervisor. But if even the supervisors don’t have any authority, then you have a major hole in how your company ensures customer satisfaction. Reading from a script won’t do it.

So instead, all of my problems have been entered into the permanent record of the internet. People in the future doing research on Sleep Number beds or on Select Comfort as a company will find these posts and tweets. Several people who were actually considering purchasing from them will now never do so.

Twitter has the power to change the face of customer service for your company. This article in Business Week had some great points.

“The real control of the brand has moved into the customer’s hands, and technology has enabled that,”

and…

People who use the site are likely to hold sway over others. A single Twitter message—known informally as a tweet—sent in frustration over a product or a service’s performance can be read by hundreds or thousands of people. Similarly, positive interaction with a representative of the manufacturer or service provider can help change an influencer’s perspective for the better.

Twitter turns what typically were private, one on one discussions with a customer service representative into a public, one to everyone discussion. Every single unresolved complaint can be seen by anyone looking for it, and as we saw here, they have the potential to turn into much, much worse. If your company isn’t prepared to move away from the script and strive to become the pinnacle of good customer service, you have no business being on a channel like Twitter.

I’m a reasonable person. If I broke the thing, I wouldn’t be trying to get the company to replace it for free out of warranty. While Select Comfort refuses to acknowledge that the display failure on their old wired remote controls is a common problem (actually, some service reps do say that, but the higher ups deny it) the empirical evidence says otherwise. I tried to convince them that it was in their best interest, from a financial, public relations, and customer satisfaction perspective to correct it. They didn’t agree.

Lesson learned.

10 thoughts on “Select Comfort learns the real power of Twitter”

  1. Derek,

    I wonder if hashtags could be used to start cataloging parts failures for consumers. Companies would have a harder time resisting recalls for faulty QA/manufacturing. Example #Brand #Model #part. WOuld be intresting. We could call the service: Warrantweet. That’s a bad joke, but you get the idea. A hosted, searchable database of product failures. I think I’m going to do this. Wanna be a partner? We could have a way for manufacturers to respond to specific tweets and problems as well.

  2. Derek – this is a great story! I just tweeted a link to it myself… 🙂 Hope the new pump works and you don’t have to go through this again in a year!

  3. In 2002, we had a Select Comfort mattress we threw out before the warranty was up. Black mold developed inside of the mattress on the underside of both bladders. When we called about it they said they were aware of the concern from others and offered to send out a replacement but they could not recommend ways to keep the mold from returning… no I don’t wet the bed.

    In 2002, we bought a Temper Pedic like mattress to replace the Select Comfort from Keil Bedding (A good retailer now closed). The night before the new mattress was to be delivered, the pump malfunctioned and the Select Comfort bladders deflated. Nothing like adding a little salt on an open wound.

  4. Hey Derek,

    I just wanted to let you know that its 2012 and I came across this whole thing after I started having trouble with mine. I know you got resolved but ~3 years later you are still high on the Google organics when “select comfort pump problems” is searched. Hopefully, I won’t have to go as far as you did, but I might use your tactics if they are unhelpful.

  5. It was less than four years of owning my Select Comfort bed that my pump died.

    I purposely bought the non-digital, wired pump/remote, due to the stories I read online about the high failure rate of the digital, wireless pump/remotes.

    Alas, my plan was foiled.

    When calling Select Comfort Customer (Dis)Service, the person was happy to try to sell me a wireless, digital pump for several hundred dollars. I declined.

    I tried to play every card I could –including the fact this was my second Select Comfort bed that I bought. She confirmed my purchase history of both beds, but that wasn’t good enough.

    So, I spend north of $3,000 for both beds, ask for a little help with a replacement for their crappy pump, and I’m offered to spend list price on another pump with no guarantee the replacement would be any better.

    I didn’t even ask for a free replacement, but I did ask for an approximate 50% discount. So, I was willing to pay something.

    Finally, I have shared my experience with others. Whether or not it’s made a difference, I cannot say. But, I’m hoping this post will serve as another warning to buyers to do their homework.

    I will never buy another Select Comfort product.

  6. We’ve had one of the sleep systems from “Select Comfort” for about 15 years now. Basically, the pumps and remotes will last about 5 years, then have to be replaced. The remote is longer being made for our system (it’s a wired remote from the 1990s) so I think we have to buy the pump and remote as a unit to get it working again. However, at 15 years, we are starting to experience air loss on an almost nightly basis. I like the concept of each side of the bed being inflated to the user’s needs, but think I’ll pass on buying another $4,000 system. If the stuff all worked and parts didn’t need replacement, I’d consider it again, but am weary with the drill. I can go to a top of the line bed shop where I live, spend 2k, and have the bed delivered, set up, and the old stuff hauled off. That sounds pretty good right now.

  7. Awesome! I stumbled across this trying to find a way to fix my remotes on my bed. Needless to say,I’ll be putting my sleep number bed to the curb for the junk man to haul away. I do like the lesson you taught them however. Cudos to you on a job well done.

  8. Don’t take a beating on the cost of the bed by kicking it to the curb, this site may buy your parts: ‘info@deelz4less.com’ . My pump failed years ago, I just use a stand alone air compressor to fill the air chambers. For convenience, cut the air hose between the pump and the chamber and insert a schrader valve.

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