While analysts have painted a rosy picture of Kroger’s impending acquisition of Harris Teeter, visitors to Harris Teeter’s Facebook page have been a bit less enthusiastic. The retailer’s posts about the merger and what customers can expect from the transition have garnered hundreds of comments, most of them very negative.
Harris Teeter’s fans said they are most upset about the potential changes to coupon policies — Kroger recently eliminated double coupons — as well as the perceived difference in the service level and the quality and selection of products at Kroger stores.
It’s great that Harris Teeter wants to keep shoppers informed during this process, but the retailer failed to provide personalized responses to comments. No matter what the customer posted, Harris Teeter replied with a standard pat answer that appeared to be automated (see examples below). The retailer sometimes posted the same canned reply multiple times in a single comment thread.
Rather than ease customers’ concerns, Harris Teeter’s responses appeared to add fuel to the fire — some fans reacted more angrily to the replies than to the original announcement.
Though Harris Teeter may not have all the answers now, and it would be very difficult to respond to each comment individually, the retailer would benefit greatly from a more personal touch to its social media strategy right now. Even something as simple as “Thanks for your comment, Joe Customer — we’re still figuring out the details but will let you know when we make any decisions about our existing coupon policy” would go a long way.
Here are some of the concerns from customers, as well as Harris Teeter’s repeated response and the backlash to it.