Unbelievably awesome response to a complaint on social media

I had the great pleasure of working with the fine folks at the Dallas Zoo last week, and I heard a story about how a complaint that came in via social media was handled. It reminded me of one of those “mind blown” headlines, only this one was all substance, and no fluff.

Laurie Holloway, Senior Director of Marketing & Communications for the zoo, told me how monitoring the zoo’s online presence had become a 24/7 endeavor, and that one day she happened to get an alert that someone was less than happy with a meal they just purchased.

Being a hands-on leader, Laurie was already out in the zoo when this happened, and was actually very close to the food venue the guest was referring to.  She looked up their profile picture and went to find them.

She approached the guest and asked if there was anything she could do to help, or possibly replace their meal.

When asked how the guest reacted, Laurie said, “she was very surprised, especially at first. But we had a nice conversation about it, and laughed, and she ended up thanking me.”

I gather she was surprised because deep down, she probably thought her post would just go to her friends and maybe she would get a “so sorry for your experience, here is a coupon” response from the zoo, but that’s about it.  I would imagine she didn’t expect such a quick and personal response.

And I think that’s one of the issues with social media… being able to complain, post and defame in relative anonymity – a pillar of modern day interwebs-warfare. But that’s another post for another time…

In this case, though, interaction on social media allowed a leadership team to be alerted to an issue very quickly, and to turn that into a positively memorable and personal experience for the guest.

So many people ask if and how they should respond to negative comments online.  My answer has always been yes, you should.  (Would you ignore a person who was complaining right in front of you?  I hope not).  Online or in person, the goal is to be respectful and solve the problem.

I think this example goes to show how important it is to respond, and to respond personally.  Especially if the guest is still at your park, zoo, aquarium, farm stand, bank, store, museum, waiting room, or restaurant, you have the opportunity to make an incredible impression on that guest, and solve a problem at the same time.

To do this, though, you have to monitor your online presence carefully, and have people like Laurie who love your guests so much that they are ready to run right out and see if they can help.

That just might be the new model for customer service and service recovery.  Something to think about.

Thanks for reading!





About the author: ICYMI, Matt appeared on Diane Helbig’s Blog Talk radio show earlier this week.  They talked about burnout and leadership and employee engagement.  Click below for the replay of the show.

Matt Heller Blog Talk



Is it time to rethink the mission statement?

We’ve all heard our share of corporate mission statements. We’ve all seen them boldly emblazoned on a poster, in a handbook, or on a wallet card. Heck, some of us have probably even written them. A recent experience at Kennedy Space Center got me thinking about the way companies typically use the mission statement, and whether or not it is as effective as it could be.

Many of the mission statements I have seen are ahead-looking, just-out-of-reach statements that are intended to inspire people to continually strive for excellence in the pursuit of the overall goal.

That’s fine, except when you never actually REACH a goal, it can be pretty discouraging.

That synapse fired during my visit to KSC when our tour guide kept talking about the missions that NASA planned and completed, including Apollo 13, which was dubbed a “successful failure”.  The point that I got from this was… these missions all had one thing in common: an end.

They had a mission to go to the moon.  Check.

They had a mission to build a space station.  Check.

The corporate world got a hold of this concept, and we now have mission statements that look like this:

Our Mission: to deliver unparalleled care to our clients with employees who exceed all expectations of quality and cooperation and provide amazingly unbelievable returns to our shareholders.

Where do I put the check mark? How do I know when the mission is complete?

The real disconnect I have noticed is in translating that high flying goal into specific behaviors and tangible results.  Without a specific strategy, mission statements like this often dwell in the black hole of “I think we have a mission statement… something about making money and quality clients…”

And if that’s the case, your mission is doomed to fail.  Too many people have different ideas of what the mission means, if they think of it at all.

Case in point…

While in line to board the tour bus at KSC, a photographer gave us a “mission”.  Put your hands over your ears.

YourPhoto2We all did it, but clearly we had our own ideas of what we should be doing and why.  I thought we should be acting as if the shuttle was really right behind us, pumping out a deafening roar.  Apparently, I was alone in this interpretation.

But that’s my point – an unclear mission leads to haphazard performance.

For the record, I am not saying you shouldn’t have a mission, or a statement that encapsulates the essence of what we are trying to accomplish. But, we do have to be prepared for people to interpret it however they see fit if:

  • It’s so nebulous and full of jargon and non-speak that no one can understand it, or…
  • If the behaviors that uphold it are not role modeled or reinforced.

Is it time to rethink the mission statement?  If yours is incomprehensible, I would say yes.  If yours is easily understood, but people aren’t abiding by it, then it’s time to rethink the way you support it.

Remember, it’s not just a statement, it’s your mission.

Thanks for reading!


About the author: Matt’s mission statement for Performance Optimist Consulting is “Helping Leaders Lead”.  Leaders are supposed to lead, but sometimes they need some help, and that’s where Matt comes in – delivering interactive keynotes, customized training workshops and individual coaching.  Need help figuring out how to get your leaders to support your mission?  That’s one of Matt’s specialties!