About a month ago, I saw a great deal shared in my Facebook friend feed. Squishable.com, purveyor of oversized plush toys, was offering nearly half off their normally $40 products. Several family members had long coveted these giant stuffed animals, so I jumped on the chance to buy them – and let me just say that the next couple of birthdays on my list are well taken care of.
It turns out, plenty of my Facebook friends, and their friends, also took advantage of this super sale. According to Chief Squisher and co-founder Zoe: “There was a bit of a feeding frenzy, to be honest – it started off exciting and spiraled rapidly into ‘Uh….now what.’ territory.”
Squishable.com is no stranger to online deals – the company offers coupons to Facebook fans at most milestones – and social engagement has played a major role in Squishable.com’s strategy. As of this writing, Squishable.com has 556,539 likes on Facebook and 3,350 followers on Twitter. Although their Pinterest board is still young with 349 followers, a search for images pinned from the store results in what seems like an endless stream of products.
But with thousands of orders coming in, and half of them for more than one item, Squishable.com wasn’t prepared to meet the demand. Zoe writes, “[O]ur warehouse was really not ready for it – we’d prepared for it to be the same as a really good coupon, but we never accounted for ‘kid in a candy store’ effect.”
It’s at this point that this story could have turned into a tale of customer wrath. Unhappy buyers could have taken to their blogs, Facebook accounts and Twitter streams to report the logistical mess, and Squishable.com could have found itself facing demands for refunds, freebies and returns.
But that’s not what happened.
Within days, Squishable.com notified buyers about the delay, and they did so in a way that conveyed personality, authenticity and gratitude. The first paragraph of the email read:
We just wanted to give you the heads up that we are totally blown away by the volume of orders we got during the sale! You rock! But because so many folks ordered that day, our amazing Squishy Wranglers at the warehouse are STILL working hard on getting everything out to you! It was our busiest day ever (seriously!). We printed labels for six straight hours (really!). The post office got so tired of us trucking in all our boxes that they’re sending a tractor-trailer tomorrow to pick ‘em up (yes way!).
Zoe, co-founder Aaron and the communications team kept buyers updated on the status of their orders daily – my inbox saw five messages from the team, including an extended coupon. When asked how customers reacted to the email updates, Zoe said that the response was generally positive. She writes, “I actually don’t think we had any complaints, although there were a couple requests to speed up a shipping item for a birthday/proposal/whatever, which we did.”
I have since received my order, and I can report that one of the giftees is very happy with his present. Squishable.com turned what could have been a PR crisis into a win by providing a transparent and timely explanation to their customers. Rather than ignore the problem, the company was proactive and straightforward, something that their customers seemed to respect.
Zoe sums it up best: “People react very well to fairness – we’re a very small company and we’re only human – when people are reminded of those facts in general they tend to be pretty understanding.”
Disclaimer: Zoe responded to my questions via email. Squishable.com is not affiliated with Cookerly Public Relations.
Image credit: squishable.com