More and more brands are now communicating with their customers directly on social media and this inevitably means having to deal with publicly visible complaints.

However, those looking to manage such incidents with their reputation intact may be able to glean inspiration from Tesco, which this week saw a tongue-in-cheek response to a humorous Facebook complaint go viral – and won widespread admiration as a result.

The incident started when 24-year-old Ben Roberts from Derby posted a message on Tesco’s Facebook page complaining that he had purchased a seven-pack of bacon rashers, only to get home and find he was one short.

In the playful text, he commented: “I could not believe it! Mortified! I have attached photo evidence and basically what I want to know is what the bl**dy hell you are going to do about this cruel act of betrayal.”

Taking the post in the spirit in which it was intended, a customer service rep called Jamie responded as a “fellow bacon fan” with Tesco’s apology.

“I can fully understand your shock, disappointment and unadulterated anger at finding only six rashers in the packet,” he joked, before going on to offer the customer a refund and a personal response from the supplier.

The exchange has gone viral and is a great example of how to win customer support by engaging with consumers in a human way on social media, rather than relying on stock responses.

It isn’t the first time Tesco has won kudos for customer service – last year, it wrote back to a shopper whose garlic had gone mouldy and who had wittily asked how he was supposed to fight off vampires by providing a refund voucher and commenting: “I do hope that by the time you receive this you have not had to encounter any vampires.”

Netflix also famously eased the frustration of a customer who was experiencing problems with its service back in 2013 by carrying out a web-based chat in the persona of a captain from Star Trek. The complainant responded in like and the result was what he described as the “best customer service experience I think I have ever had”.

Tesco bacon rant goes viral, Huffington Post UK

Posted by Robin McCrink