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Oh Dear, Tesco. Oh Dear…

Gridlock in Tesco car parkA rather incredible example of poor communications practice was pushed my way last week from a friend of mine, Jan Minihane. To cut a long story short, she was stuck in gridlock in a Tesco car park for four long hours after heavy snow and traffic accidents and, unsurprisingly, wrote an open letter to Tesco to try and gain an explanation. Cue 2000 web visits, a Twitter skirmish, public outpouring and a brief television appearance. And a deafening silence from Tesco.

From a PR and communications perspective, it’s a bit of a shocker. Jan says in a follow up blog post that Tesco has maintained radio silence to her on Twitter despite repeated, polite requests for clarification, and despite responses to people who have @replied to her. She says it also deleted her post from its Facebook page, despite answering others’ concerns. And she says that there has been no public statement by Tesco about the hundreds of people stuck in its car park for four hours. What on earth is going on, Tesco?

In a world where customer service issues and grievances are increasingly aired online, the ‘bury the head in the sand’ approach does nothing but infuriate people. It gives an impression of not caring a jot about customers and serves no purpose other than to add fuel to the fire. It makes it look like there’s something to hide. And furthermore, it’s public. Everyone else can see the lack of care too. In this instance, a public acknowledgement and a small apology would have quelled much of the situation. Two words would have done the trick, Tesco: “we’re sorry”. After all, Every Little Helps…

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