One of the great advantages of social media is your ability to speak directly to your customers—to have a direct line to answer their questions, ease their concerns and embrace their praises. If you’ve been on the fence about social media, read this blog post and weigh the value against your own business. See how Designer Shoe Warehouse (DSW) handled a website malfunction which could have potentially turned away a lot of customers on Cyber Monday.

DSW had an amazing deal for Cyber Monday—25% off the entire purchase, plus free shipping for purchases over $35. Unfortunately, by about 3:00 p.m. the site experienced way more traffic than it could handle. When you tried to go the site, you’d get a landing page that said “Oh no. Too many cyber shoppers. Check back often. One day sale only.” This problem continued on through the day until about 11:00 p.m. I, like most people, was insanely frustrated and turned to Twitter to see what was up.

To my surprise, many others were experiencing the same issue and frustrations. What was interesting to me was DSW’s response. Check out @dswshoelovers to view their page and #dsw to view what others had to say. You’ll want to go to Monday’s tweets to see the chatter when this was all happening. I’m not sure if it’s a normal DSW practice, but they have responded to every person who made a comment about them, whether good or bad. Even me! After an hour of posting, I received a tweet that said “We’re back up in action! Have at it! #dsw.” I found it pretty cool to be so connected and felt like my problem was being handled.

It even appears that Tuesday, in order to rectify the problem and keep their loyal customers, DSW asked those who had issues to e-mail them. I only assume they are going to issue a rebate for the same deal. Here are some of those tweets.

“Shoot us an email to tweepluv@dswinc.com & we’ll see what we can do.”

“We are SHOE sorry our site was giving you trouble! Shoot us an email to tweepluv@dswinc.com so we can make it right!”

“Shoe shopping should not be this frustrating! Shoot us an email to tweepluv@dswinc.com so we can fix it!”

Lastly, DSW was offering the same deal Monday in the retail stores, because the site was down. And … if you couldn’t get into the store, you could have them place the shoes on hold for you to pick up the next day. I know this because I called!

I was very impressed by how DSW handled this issue, which could have potentially turned away a lot of customers. They recognized they had a big problem, they related to customers’ concerns, poked a little fun at themselves and provided solutions. Customer service at its finest.