Does your brand respond to all customer inquiries, or complaints, within your social media channels? A brand should consider customer service on Facebook or Twitter equally as important as a phone call to their company.

As a fan of Kashi’s Original 7 Grain Crackers I was quite surprised that they changed the recipe in the fall of 2011. To find out more about the change I logged on to Kashi’s site to see if there was any information about the change. Unfortunately I did not find any.

After opening the box and trying the crackers I was very displeased. It seemed the recipe changed quite a bit and I thought I’d share my displeasure with Kashi. Unfortunately I never received a response from the company. Did Kashi even care that I was unhappy with their product?

As a fan of the previous recipe I found a handful of boxes at a nearby grocery store. I decided to purchase every last one that I could get my hands on to avoid the new recipe. Now that is customer loyalty.

Nearly four months later I have returned to Kashi’s website to see unanswered complaints and comments on the Kashi Original 7 Grain Cracker page. Some of the comments are quite harsh, here are just a few:

  • We are soooo UNHAPPY with the new recipe of the “TLC Original 7 Grain Snack Crackers”. They are so BAD!! They taste like burnt cardboard.
  • New recipe is terrible. Not edible. Our favorite cracker has been ruined. Please change back!!
  • At first I thought that I got a bad box of crackers that had been burned at the factory and I was ready to call the product line … after sampling a few other boxes it became apparent there was a change in the recipe.
  • I want to add my voice to the chorus denouncing the recent change in this once-delicious cracker to the new “Now With Tastier Crunch!” version. The texture and flavor are both awful in comparison and I will not be buying these anymore unless Kashi decides to change them back.

My favorite comment? How about this one from “SNWorks

“Neither crunchier, nor tastier, and certainly should not be still labeled as ‘original.’ Hasn’t this lesson been learned repeatedly in the food industry? You don’t take away the beloved original. Although, to be truthful you’d have to say ‘Also available in New Burnt Sawdust!'”

Those are some pretty negative comments. A brand can not afford to ignore comments on social media channels, let alone their own website. What is the point of allowing the consumer to comment if you aren’t going to listen to them or respond?

The lesson here is not to ignore your customer. If you plan on establishing a presence in social media channels, add comments to your website, or reviews and ratings you should be prepared with a strategy for online customer service and reputation management.

If a brand continues to ignore consumer complaints they will grow, expand to other sites and channel and soon enough all you will find are negative conversations about your brand or product on search engines. That creates a long-term problem that is not easily, if ever, reversible.

As a person that was looking to find a tasty and healthy alternative to some other crackers, I was very happy when I was introduced to Kashi. Unfortunately I don’t see myself going back to their product(s) anytime soon. I’m curious if Kashi, and other companies that ignore their social media channels, would ignore a phone call to their customer service department?

Judging from the lack of response on Facebook and their website Kashi may only answer their customer service phone lines 5% of the time. Learn from their mistake. A brand should be prepared to scale their web and social media efforts to answer every customer inquiry and complaint.

Social media channels like Facebook and Twitter give a company the chance to take product feedback and influence their business. Do you plan on having a social business, one that listens to its customers? In this case Kashi could have used social media monitoring to measure product satisfaction and perhaps react quickly to the outcry from their customers.

Is your brand ready to monitor social media channels? Do you respond to all customer complaints? Share your thoughts below.