This time of year, many holiday shoppers are in panic mode, ordering last minute gifts on a tight deadline for Christmas delivery. Frustrations are bound to happen, and some customers will air their greivances online. That’s exactly what one of Liberty Bottleworks’ customers did on their Facebook page:
This sounds like a legitimate complaint, and one that invites criticism of Liberty Bottleworks. That is, until Liberty cofounder and COO Ryan Clark stepped in with a response that shed light on the situation: the unnamed customer had actually been harassing employees, and ignored Liberty’s attempts to contact her and help out:
While it’s usually best for companies to take a “customer is always right” attitude, and avoid lengthy, emotional replies to online rants, Liberty Bottleworks proved the exception to the rule. While skillfully explaining to the public why this customer’s problems were only her own, Clark also stood up for his employees, defending them against the customer’s assertion that “it is the holidays, you should be working.”
As a small manufacturer, Liberty Bottleworks’ employees do not work on the weekends. Instead of working on the Saturday when the customer called, Clark says, his employees were “home with their families doing their cards, baking cookies, etc.” Clark’s response explains that if Liberty’s employees offered the 24 hour, always-on customer service she demanded, they wouldn’t have a chance to celebrate the season with their own families.
“I am sorry you are upset and I will gladly give you your money back, but I am not sorry our employees were enjoying the holidays,” Clark said. “I will not do business with anyone that threatens my employees the way you have. Merry Christmas!”
Clark’s credo of “family first, product second” really struck a chord with customers. Liberty’s Facebook page has been flooded with new likes and messages of support from new customers and fans who clearly appreciate the company’s approach of “doing things the American way. Not instant gratification, 24 hour shopping on Thanksgiving type of American way but, family and country type of American way.” At one point, Liberty posted that they were so slammed with calls and website orders that customers might not be able to get through-and that they should just be patient and try again later.
The Liberty Facebook page reports that the company now has UPS sending out double the trucks per day, and that they’ve had to hire a few new employees. To keep up with holiday responses and do their best to get every customer their order by Christmas, they upgraded all in-house orders to UPS Ground, and have included discount coupons in orders that are at risk of missing Christmas delivery. And for customers placing orders that don’t need to make it by Christmas, they’ve offered a 10% off promo code to say thanks for taking a load off of the team during this busy time.
Liberty Bottleworks’ response flies in the face of what we often expect from online shopping: fast responses and near immediate gratification. Online shoppers often expect to get help from a live person in just over a minute. After all, comments Liberty cofounder Tim Andis, “You’re competing against people like Google who have live support 24 hours a day. Being a small manufacturer we’re not going to have live support 24 hours a day.”
But Clark reminds us that the people behind the responses are just that: people, who like customers, also enjoy their designated time off during the Christmas season and year round. “You can’t trade that for a bottle. You can’t trade that for 100 bottles. You can’t trade that at all.”