Sadly, this year’s crazy public relations trial-by-fire hasn’t had much of a positive effect on how Subway handles customer complaints. With a startling amount of non-Michelle Obama customer complaints surfacing (including a very sad case of harassment in San Diego), this would have been Subway’s time to let their social media team’s CSR skills really shine. But instead of leaving the Yoga-Gate scandal in the dust, Subway’s social team has chosen to rest on their laurels and fall back on the infuriating copy-and-paste laziness that is the thorn in the side of millions of already pissed customers every day. Strong social engagement involves more than just sharing photos of sandwiches on Insta.
The case that Jerry Regan is referring to is that of Allison Brown, a customer at the 1906 Hacienda Drive, Vista, CA Subway. Brown ordered a Flatizza, and once she arrived at home she noticed that the Subway employee had written “Big Mama” on the box. This incident highlights a very uncomfortable reality for Subway: An increasing percentage of their customer base are individuals who were attracted to the chain with the hopes of becoming more fit. In a way, you could say that Subway is even exploiting individuals who have a negative self-image, people who are already coping with some physical insecurities (BTW, I’m in that group).
While Subway’s response mentions that the sandwich artists are trained to be sensitive to the needs of every customer, I’m beginning to doubt that this is the case: Preceding the mention of sensitivity-training is a caveat that there are over 400,000 current subway employees working at the retail level, face-to-face with the customer, who “generally do a terrific job”. In other words, there are bound to be a few sandwich artist bullies who fall through the cracks.
Subway continues to use the more-is-more approach when responding to negative Facebook comments. It’s not uncommon to see a 6-paragraph opus in response to a simple “Yes or No” question, like “Do you endorse Obama?” – granted, you wouldn’t want to just answer these political questions straight-up (the asker will always look for a deeper meaning). But as these answers become more formal and legalistic (and longer), the conversational aspect of customer-service is removed and the experience just becomes unappetizing.
I’ll probably never understand the passion of the Obama-haters, but it’s interesting to see the effect of their comments on Subway’s Facebook (like dropping some raw meat in a piranha tank):
Marky Mark Slocum and the sucker punch. The bullying continues…
“Don’t like your own post, it makes you look pathetic.” This is just the first unofficial Facebook rule that Lynn Stephens Feltham breaks in this massively one-sided Facebook conversation. She also unashamedly clogs up the conversation with defensive, repetitive nonsense like “I don’t make it a habit to hang out on Subway’s Facebook page… So sorry!” Oh yeah? Then, get to steppin’, Lynn. Your posts are not Lynn-sational in the least (more like Lynn-comprehensible).
One the lighter side, Crystal Turner reminded me that there are much more important elements that make up the Subway experience. Like whether you get a cookie with your meal. Who cares if the First Lady’s picture allegedly appears on their advertising (it doesn’t), it’s all good as long as I get my cookie.
Kevin Carr can also type very fast. A little TOO fast…
Who gives a damn about a possessive pronoun anyway? Pretty much everyone who struggles to make sense of the poisonous posts on Subway’s Facebook page. Your welcome… oops!