A few months ago, Hootsuite was hacked on a very wide scale. They said it was related to an earlier hack of another, unrelated site, ie that their security was never breached specifically, the criminals just had the login details from the other hack and used them on Hootsuite. And while that may be true, when suddenly hundreds of users are all tweeting out the same exact spam messages it’s still on you to notice it and fix it. And when users were trying to figure out what was going on, they not only weren’t helpful, they were downright rude about it and repeatedly denied that it was even their problem to deal with when contacted directly (because they never publicly acknowledged the issue). Their customer response was the equivalent of a teenager shrugging and saying “whatever.”

Image representing Buffer as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

Contrast this with when Buffer was hacked. Theirs actually was a hack of their site specifically which should have reflected poorly on the site. Instead, they were absolute pros about it and not only owned up to the problem immediately but also took pains to update users throughout the day with everything they were doing to fix the issue. Their honesty, ownership of their screw up and hustle to fix it all increased my satisfaction with them as a company instead of the other way around as you’d assume in a hacking case.

buffer tweets

So much so that I finally decided to upgrade my account with them from the free to the paid plan (called “Awesome”). Except that their site wasn’t accepting my credit card so I wasn’t able to pay them for the upgrade. Their Twitter customer service reps were prompt and courteous… but they were asking me the same questions over and over as different people took over the shift and didn’t look at the prior tweets.That’s when Buffer founder Joel Gascoigne saw the reps floundering and asked them to comp me into the upgraded plan until they sorted the issue out. They did so within minutes of the exchange. (You can see this whole Twitter exchange here if you’re interested, it was too long to screenshot.)

They didn’t have to do that but I sure do appreciate it.┬áIf you look at the Twitter exchange, I wasn’t even getting angry or making demands like some nightmare customer. I was just trying to figure out how to give them my money.

Which brings up two big lessons. Firstly, by being upfront and classy about both issues, they’ve won my business for the future. But the second lesson for any business is you never know what individual you’ll please or piss off with how you handle a customer service issue. Sure, that good customer service moment may never go beyond the individual with the issue but every now and then the user you treat right pays it forward in a positive endorsement privately or publicly (like this one).

What I’m saying is, when it comes to customer service, be a class act and it will pay off in much more than whatever it cost you to fix the problem!