Why businesses are on code red for any social media criticism - column

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Want to get an instant response from a business?

Forget phoning up. You’ll lose the will to live being told your call is important, but not important enough to adequately staff the team at the other end of the line.

Forget email. They go to the work placement to dump in the draft folder before they play with their phones for the next two hours.

Nope. It’s Twitter.

Businesses – or rather their PR and marketing teams – appear to be on code red at all times so they can respond immediately to any complaint.

I was in Morrisons the other week. The shelves were depressingly empty. It was 6pm – it felt like midnight.

If you shop around tea-time, then you are used to the sight of empty boxes abandoned for the night shift to slowly get round to flattening and recycling, but it’s still a pain when all you want is something to eat.

I can just about live with fresh fruit being in short supply, and ditto cold meats, even if that scunners my plans for tomorrow’s sarnies, but when you head to the ready meals and see six sad little packets chucked on shelves which are otherwise barren, then enough is enough.

So I tweeted Morrisons to say their stock controls were rubbish.

Rebekah – or maybe it was plain ole Rebecca (the proper way to spell it) – sent a message asking which store it was,

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This is where it got awkward. I didn’t want to land the staff in trouble. Stock control is not their issue – that comes from much higher up the middle management chain; people who spend their lives brainstorming ideas and doodling on whiteboards.

So the moment I mentioned Kirkcaldy, it was pinged by Tracey – who’d replaced Rebecca/Rebekah faster than their irritating self-scanning machines can spot an unexpected item in the bagagge area – to the general manager.

One further exchange of messages and Rebekah/Rebecca and Tracey had somehow become Marya which, I’m guessing is the 2019 spelling of Maria, possibly Marie. Who knows, maybe it’s just one person who changes names just for the fun of it.

But I’m delighted to inform all the lovely folk who shop, and indeed, work, in Morrisons that Rebekah/Rebecca, Tracey and Marya with an un-necessary ‘Y’ are “working hard alongside the store manager to ensure the relevant improvements are made.”

This sort of pointless communication goes on day in, day out with companies on Twitter. Bland re-assurances from a social media team which is filled with people who only ever reveal their first names – words which, ultimately, are about as empty as those boxes which once contained the wee packets of sliced ham I’m kinda partial to on my lunchtime butties.

Seriously, how hard do you have to work to sort out stock control? You have shelves, you have products – just stick on on t’other and it’s job done. This isn’t the Krypton Factor.

Morrisons, I’ll make you a deal.

You stack the shelves properly and I’ll happily tweet how fabulous it is shopping there once more...