What Can Happen When Customer Service Goes Right

Earlier this year, a 16-year old named Carter Wilkerson became an overnight online sensation when he publicly challenged the customer service department at fast food giant Wendy’s on Twitter — and won, in a big way.

It all started when Wilkerson took to Twitter and asked Wendy’s how many retweets he would need to receive a full year of free chicken nuggets. Wendy’s, which has a reputation for being vocal — and at times, even sassy — on Twitter, tweeted back with a figure of “18 million.” Wilkerson responded with a confident “consider it done.”

As it turns out, the request went viral.

After Wilkerson unexpectedly racked up about 3.42 million retweets, the company caved and declared him a winner. Now, Wendy’s is honoring Wilkerson’s full year of chicken nuggets, and is even making a $100,000 donation in his name to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.

Wilkerson — who now has over 100,000 followers on Twitter — is continuing his cause on his own website, nuggsforcarter.com.

The lesson here is very simple:

Sometimes, it’s okay to have fun with your customers online. Listen to everything that your customers have to say, and keep a sharp eye out for opportunities like this when they arise. Let your customers know that you are paying attention to what they have to say, and pounce on opportunities that will make great human interest pieces.

Here are some of the ways your brand will benefit:

Greater customer loyalty: When current customers read about stories like Wilkerson and his free year of chicken nuggets, it fosters their feelings of pride and brand loyalty. It makes them feel great about doing business with your brand, and encourages them to share the news with others. Stories like this remind customers why they love the brand in the first place.

Increased engagement: What does just about every company brand want today? Increased audience engagement. Some companies are practically begging customers to interact with them more. This type of activity encourages customers to reach out and interact with the company. Ultimately, it generates free marketing.

Thought leadership: By responding to Wilkerson, and granting him a full year of free chicken nuggets, Wendy’s took a leap of faith. And in doing so, they reminded us about the need to keep trying new things in customer service. Wendy’s has proven that its customer service department is responsive and highly in-tune with its customer base. Wendy’s is setting an example for all other fast food chains to follow. And it’s hard to put a price tag on the type of return that this will create for the company.