Communication is no longer one way. Historically, brands would broadcast their message and customers would listen, providing any feedback they did have on a one to one basis. Now, with the rise of social media, those same customers finally have a platform to publicly state their opinions. Whether you like it or not people are talking about your brand. This can either be ignored or it can be monitored and dealt with in the most appropriate fashion.
Interacting with customers shouldn’t be an experience that is feared, but instead a chance to help engage brand ambassadors and deal with any potential issues. So how should you interact with your audience? It is important to be as helpful as possible and to make sure you deal with any request to the best of your ability; however it is also important to identify your brand’s personality and tone of voice.
Here are three examples of brands showing their real personality once things got tough:
This example is a year old (which is eons in the social media world) but it’s one of my favourites and too good to ignore.
Twitter pages are not run by all knowing entities but by average people who are prone to the occasional mistake. Gloria Huang, who’s responsible for the American Red Cross’ Twitter page, made an error which could have led to a major whiplash. Instead of posting on her personal account she sent the following message out to all of the charity’s followers:
This post stayed up for an hour until it was finally noticed and deleted. Instead of hiding from the problem and hoping that no one had noticed, The Red Cross’ response was to hold up their hands and accept their mistake:
Not only did the Red Cross admit to their mistake but they actually ended up receiving a lot of positive attention and donations from the Twittersphere. Even Dogfish Head Brewery saw the funny side and encouraged people to donate with the hashtag #gettngslizzerd:
This year Waitrose wanted to interact with their customers and decided to ask them why they chose to shop at their supermarket. Waitrose encouraged their customers to tweet their reasons with the #WaitroseReasons hashtag. This campaign could be seen as a failure as the majority of the Tweets were jokes about Waitrose’s high-class appearance:
— Bethan Harris (@bethanjharris) September 20, 2012
I shop at Waitrose because it seems entirely possible that all the cashiers are educated to at least a postgraduate level. #WaitroseReasons
— Lynch (@lynchhau5) September 20, 2012
However, Waitrose managed to strengthen the high end supermarket image and more importantly they didn’t ignore the joke tweets, instead they thanked everyone for making them smile:
Thanks again for all the #waitrosereasons tweets. We really did enjoy the genuine and funny replies. Thanks for making us smile.
— Waitrose(@waitrose) September 20, 2012
So although the initial campaign may have failed, Waitrose embraced the new direction and managed to reinforce their brand values with a hashtag.
For a ‘Café food and wine bar’ who had been on Twitter for just two days Cinnamon generated quite a lot of attention on the social media network. Like most B2C companies, there were always bound to be a few complaints and, although Cinnamon dealt with Sean Mongey’s initial issue with quite a standard response, any sCRM they had in place went straight out of the window as soon as he complained for a 2nd time:
This conversation escalated quickly until eventually Cinnamon thought the best way to solve the situation was to call Sean an a*******. It turned out this wasn’t the best way to deal with the issue and gained Cinnamon a lot of negative press.
Eventually Cinnamon deleted the tweets and uploaded an apology to Facebook; which has received 18 shares, 279 likes and 134 (mixed) comments (of 23/11/2012).
— Cinnamon (@Cinnamon_D6) November 12, 2012
I suppose the key things to take away from these examples are:
- If you make a mistake transparency and personality are key
- If a campaign goes wrong, don’t ignore the problem
- It’s probably a bad idea to insult your customers