Burger King publicly shamed an unhappy customer. Then it did it again

How do you encourage customers to go online and tell you what they really think? Burger King's way is, well, different.
Written by Chris Matyszczyk, Contributing Writer
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Clever psychology?

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Some companies choose to irritate customers.

You can understand the impulse.

You've bought something from a brand and its marketing people really, really want to know what you really, really thought of the purchase experience.

Sometimes, the enthusiasm to know gets a little much -- something I recently experienced when I bought one or two things at Best Buy.

After the first ten emails begging you to fill out a survey, your eyes glaze over, and you block the emails.

Burger King, however, has decided on a different approach.

It'll give you a free Whopper when you offer your feedback on your purchase experience.

However, to motivate you to do that, Burger King released a pungently humorous ad that shows what happens when a customer gives feedback to the wrong person.

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This particular customer is unhappy.

She's at a Burger King drive-thru and complains that she's "asked them four different times to make me a Western Barbecue Burger."

Four times does sound like a lot. What could possibly be the problem? Well, she says they're her "a hamburger with lettuce, tomato and cheese onions, and I'm not leaving."

You might assume, then, that she's called Burger King headquarters or perhaps the Better Business Bureau.

But no. She's called 911.

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The dispatcher, as politely as she's able, tells her to go west and stop clogging up America's most serious helpline.

"Madam, we're not going to go down there and enforce your Western Bacon Cheeseburger."

The mere thought of it, though, is captivating.

The Burger King customer, however, insists deputies be sent to help her.

Some might insist it's so very wrong to shame customers. But the notion that the customer is always right is often wrong.

Some customers are just appalling. However, to my life-addled mind, calling them out publicly and using it to encourage feedback is a fascinating twist.

In fact, Burger King thought it so fascinating that it found another customer to shame.

This time, the customer is upset that he rolls up to a drive-thru and asks for lemonade, only to be told that the restaurant is out of lemonade. Naturally, he called 911 too.

His complaint extended to being told that he'd have to wait fifteen minutes for his food because he talked too much.

The 911 dispatcher is unreasonably reasonable. She asks if the customer has handed over the money. He has not. He hasn't received food either. So she suggests that he could just drive away.

He complains he's hungry. "Sir," she replies, "Come on, come on. I know you don't seriously think the police need to make Burger King give you food faster."

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Surely not. That's the job of robots.

For Burger King, though, shaming these customers publicly will help others find a better -- and more profitable -- way to make legitimate complaints.

"If you have feedback to give, at least get something out of it," muses Burger King wryly. And that's when it takes the opportunity to sell its feedback URL and make its oddly generous offer.

And there, I was thinking that the best way to get people to complain online is to get Elon Musk to buy your site.

I fear, though, that if the customer in the ad went to this URL and filled in the survey, she'd still be unhappy with her Whopper and would, yet again, call 911.

Or worse, shame Burger King on Twitter.

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