Your clients are social! Will you get engaged (and how)?

I recently went through an interesting article on Social Media Today compiling some interesting data and statistics about customer service and social media I would sum up one ot these statistics in a simple manner: people have an important use of the web. OK, I agree, nothing to be surprised about but…

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… when you consider that they can spend a significant amount of their time on internet, then you have to face that reality: your customers have a great chance to be on social media. So if you have something wrong to apologize for… You can be pretty sure that they’ll have something to tell about it… or they already did!  Are you ready to live a great love affair with them or not? What can you do to deal with it?

#1 Be present!

Even if you don’t have the dreamt resources to do it, you have to be out there. Otherwise, your reputation will be on hold by a few customers you might have apologized to, helped if you’re lucky and creative… And you even might might benefit from something unexpected: an angry customer becoming a thanking and faithful customer!

Customer relationship is a relationship. It’s not a one night stand! You have to be commited, take care of your customers, make them feel important and unique (see below a few examples of engagement). In other words, love and cherish them for what they are: your most important stakeholders to make a living… and the ambassadors that can help you to attract new ones!

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Then you easily understand that when I say be present… it’s also to be in the present! you can’t afford to let people posting things and considering that it has not yet reached a level that requires action. You have to do something, from the moment you sold them something or you plan to do it!

Have a look at what Michel et Augustin a Paris based brand organizes on regular basis: meetings with its customers in their headquarter (named La Bananeraie) in order to taste their cookies. Not only it is important to be in real-time, but also to be in real world and create connections!

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But how can you proceed in order to develop such connection between your brand and services and your customers and create this possibility of a great customer experience… even when you’re facing difficulties?

#2 Monitor and listen

One of the best way to do it is to monitor what can be said on your brand. There are a lot of solutions nowadays; Personnally I’ve been using quite a few for big companies with budget to do so: Synthesio, Digimind, Meltwater of course are really interesting tools. Of course the list can be more detailed: from Sprinklr, to Falcon Social, Radian 6 or Sysomos… I’m sure I’m forgetting a lot of such tools and services providers… But what to do when you don’t have a budget? Stop trying to collect information and data about your brand or products?

Many platforms can be used for free. From the traditionnal Google Alerts, to Tweetdeck… But at some point, you will require to use more “systematic” tools that allow you not only to collect information but also to analyze it at one glance…

All this of course depending on what you are looking and what you are expecting… Is you priority only to be a fireman when something goes wrong? Or do you want to embrace the full opportunities that social media can bring to you like: analyzing your competitors moves (and sometimes difficulties), understanding other topics in which your customers are interested, finding new ways through best practices…

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But if monitoring and social media listening are to me the cornestone of your plan, you can’t reduce your commitment to this “back office plan”. At some point you have to go public and confront with your customers.

#3 Engage with them!

I’m not going to detail all the possible rules of engagement or ways to engage with your customers. But when it comes to what you define as customer service, don’t forget that for your customers it goes beyond the service! They are willing to have a good service… because they are living their own customer experience!

In other words what you think is just a service with dedicated procedures and actions is far more than that. You create what your customers will remember from you.

So if you want to engage… Do it like a pro! Ask for the information you don’t have in order to really solve their problems!

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Apologize, correct what’s going wrong and let people know you’ve done your part!

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Share the feedbacks if you have some!

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And then… repeat! 🙂

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And you, how do you deal with your customers satisfaction?

10 take aways about the Corporate Social Media Summit in NYC #CSMNY

I landed a few days ago from my flight back home from New York and decided to wrap up some of the main take aways I had after this conference.
No offense with the participants I would not mention in this short post but you’ll find in this short article a subjective vision of some points that really made an echo for me due to my own previous experiences, convictions, etc…

1/ Infobesity… Always!

Not my favorite moment of the conference, yet people among the attendees seemed very moved by this concept. This concept has long been shared in Europe as one of the constraints that impose the companies to find the needle in the stack. Yet here, it’s interesting to see that this concept is not just a concept. Infobesity is not a danger, it’s a warning about your need to look at the accurate information, metrics and remind us that we have to be agile in our social media monitoring or strategies. Always adapt, refine, change. In my opinion, in a way, I would say that dealing with infobesity as an asset is a key to success.

2/ Customers’ delight in the end

Customer relationship is a big challenge. But it’s not the end of the journey! Being able to answer with the same tone and with a propos brings more that satisfaction. You can now impress your customers like NBC who designed specific content during the Superbowl for instance.

3/ Agility helps to reach your goals

To me a value which is directly linked to customers delight. If you want to achieve this customers delight then it is required to be flexible: not only in terms of organisations and processes, but your team members must be creative… and fun! Spotify is a refence when it comes to answer to their customers by designing spotify playlists as answers!

4/ Customer relationship can (must?) be cool

Social media listening used as a way to understand customers expectations and create adequate content is key. You have to understand your context and your customers expectations. In other words, people want answers. But who said that you have to use a bored tone to express it? Dollar Shave club shared a few examples sometimes… explicit!

5/ SoMe is not PR

Obviously! Customers care for valuable information. You have to craft your messages and contents and not csocial networks a another way to push your PR contents.

6/ B2B can use SoMe

Of course, I work for a company also focused on B2B customers. Interesting to see that when it comes to B2B, SoMe is also seen as an efficient tool. Zoetis (veterinarian products) use the power of tools like facebook to target their priority target (veterinarians) and feed them with valuable content to sustain their activity.
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7/Don’t underestimate your customers’ power

Crowdsourcing is definitely one of the best leverage available nowadays if you want to create things and be in line with your customers expectations. Yet every companies are not comparable to Lego.

8/ If you’ve read so far…

It is actually a fake 10 points… I will only have 9 but… Thanks for having read so far!
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9/ What about the others?

Periscope, Reddit ( I mean THE front page of the web), Snapchat, the importance of the search through Search Engines and their impact on reputation were not mentioned a lot… but well, choices must be made! And social media are under a constant evolution. Let’s learn a few years more about it!

10 I’ll be back!

Panelists were great with full of insights and experiences to share, the red velvet cupcake was awesome, location… perfect! I mean… NYC! Brooklyn! You see what I mean right? People as a whole, friendly..
For sure one of the most interesting social media conference I had the opportunity to attend to over these past two years!

Digital strategy: rich content is not a luxury!

We have been talking several times of content strategy among my previous posts on this blog. This reminds me of how necessary it is to insist on what content can be created nowadays. And how it is important to be sufficiently efficient in order to be properly assimilated by your audience.

In other words, if “content is king”, it is absolutely necessary to understand that content deserves its crown: and to do so it has to be adapted to your audiences to fit their expectations… and you have only 15 seconds to catch their attention!

Therefore, using rich content is also key! If you want to attract your customers and maintain them, treat theme like kings and start by sharing valuable content with them!

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Tell your story:

This will also allow you to go a deep further by taking real engagements as well as creating your own legend.

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I really like the Chipotle’s campaign: the scarecrow represents the abnormality, the exception. But finally, it will manage to propose something new and with real benefit for the others. Between Don Quichote and Batman, this scarecrow it is no more a “IT”, but becomes a he with personality and ability to improve others life and satisfy their expectancies by being committed with what he prepares

Prolong the experience

Chipotle’s strategy is very interesting because they have understand how critical it is to have a multi channel approach in order to enhance the experience and also make sute this experience will be a long term strategy that will help to create a real saga with a hero!

With Chipotle’s Scarecrow, you’ll have the opportunity to download a videogame where you’ll be able to play with this character:

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Use your audience

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As Coca-Cola has recently begun to do it in France by mobilizing key instagramers users and conciliating this with a huge advertising campaign.

By using instagramers, Coca Cola France aims at creating user generated content through other instagramers

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Keep writing… but aim at engaging with them!

Because writing is also a good way to improve your seo. Because some of your audience wants to read. But also because it shows how real you are! How to do that?

To my mind, I think, one of the best ways to do it is by:

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  • Asking questions: what do they want, how do they feel… example: “is that me or this bird seems to have been eating to much seeds or ice creams?”
  • Illustrating with key facts!
  • Providing them with synthesis or reports: due to infobesity, we are surrounded by content, charts and figures… Let’s try to digest them in order they could be more easily digested by your audience…

Do you have any other ideas to catch this attention? What would be your advice to create this content?

Social web is the doorstep of customer care: open this door… and your arms!

Doors can be easily opened. Yet while you’re a guest you’re expecting for someone to open this door. If you invite your customers to be part of the party, then you can’t let them wait for a long time at the door, you need to invite them to come in. How a brand can do that?

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It is frequent to read that you need to think out of the box. Ok, but how can I be sure not to remain in the box while I’m thinking as a I do think (or at least hope to do so!) like any other days in my life?

OMG!!! This reminds of Kant and really conceptual philosophy courses during my studies… Or maybe The Matrix… The spoon doesn’t exist! 😉

Whatever, please, stay there, relax and keep reading: Kant might be helpful, but I consider of giving you a few pieces of advice. And to be honest I hope to be a little bit more pragmatical and less philosophical than Kant could have been (or at least what I can remind of his books!)

1/ Forget the concepts! Start by being pragmatic, opportunistic and be fantastic at that!

We all have heard of presentations within companies, made internally or by agencies starting by « here is the concept ». The concept is not an objective.

Hublot watches: simple but efficient!

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First, think of what you propose and try to be really critic towards what you usually create and do internally.

In other words, try to change what you do: either by creating something really new, either by doing something really improved compared to what it used to be

2/ Does it mean I necessarily have to create a buzz?

Personally I don’t think so. Buzz is something that can attract attention. But what seems to be really important is not attention but loyalty. And customer loyalty is what you should be looking for (through customer satisfaction of course).

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As a result, a buzz can be a good leverage in order to drive attention but you have to think of making something more! Something that makes a real difference!

Simplify things and especially, simplify you customer’s life. Be at their service by proposing the content they are waiting for!

What then? Once you have created this amazing Facebook page with great contest, what are you going to share with them? How are you going to interact with them?

3/ Be innovative considering your own starting point!

You’ve never really cared for your customers online? Then start by doing this!  (Don’t panic!  70% of customer service complaints on Twitter are never answered!) Isn’t it already innovative to change this? Remember the first point, be pragmatic and be fantastic at that.

 bigstock-First-Class-Service-23649035You‘ve decided to be present on social web, don’t be passive, act! Thank people for liking you page and sharing content! Be friendly with them, care for what they share with you, whatever it might be: from critics, to questions, remarks or even a simple “hello”. Welcome them! (all my apologies to the recent followers I did not thank or mentioned on Twitter by the way). Remember? You’ve opened a door to them!

This reminds me of something I heard during a conference in Asia. For Hyatt Asia: “treat people on the web as if they were customer waiting in your lobby”. You have to care for them: whoever they are!

I really appreciate this campaign by Dove: what a great and innovative idea to include men and their stories in their campaign!

And if your confident with these basics! Then you’ll become truly fantastic: by surprising them, giving them unforgettable (but really good!) experiences.

Social web is definitely the doorstep of customer care. Open this door, say hello to them, invite them to join your club, make sure they take a seat, relax and just enjoy what’s next! That’s to say, the great content and experiences you’ve designed for them!

Listening before engaging for brands: what does it mean? Be emotional!

Social media listening and brand engagement are fundamental when it comes to increase your customer satisfaction. 

Customer satisfaction is frequently assimilated to unsatisfaction or customers nightmares. Many brands have understood they have to do their best in order to give and create better customer experience. (all the more if you consider that 64% of marketers value existing customers over new ones)

Nevertheless social media listening is not only a procedure with tools and resources to display it… It is above all a mindset!

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An unsatisfied customer wants in priority to complain about your product or its experience. Wherever this complaint is visible, your customer wants it to be visible. Try first not to delete/suppress the content he posted and try to accept it.

Only by respecting this, you’ll be able to understand what he might have felt. Because all these complaints from emotions generated by: disastisfaction (I payed for it but I didn’t receive what I paid for!), concerns (Where is the gift I bought to my wife for Valentine’s day) or anger (“I was treated bad by your customer service” or “the flight attendants did not help me with my trolley and my 2 kids”…)…

It is clearly a matter of emotions and claiming that something went wrong for one of your customer might be his/her last resort!

The ultimate last resort: mentionning that your exeperience was even worst than flying with Ryan Air! 🙂

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Be emotionnal

As a result a brand has to raise its level of empathy and communicate as an individual with feelings and emotions

But what could be the emotions of a Chanel or IKEA? It is too easy to consider that brands are not meant to express emotions! They are and always have been doing it! From the famous Enjoy by Coca Cola or Mac Donald “Lovin it”, these famous brands are deeply commited to create emotions. Let’s have a look at The North Face for example:

But being emotional is not necessarily to create emotions by reaching the sky and stars! But of course, in a certain way you’ll have to push your own limits. And that means to receive the messsage above all and accept it: this will allow you to understand it and react properly to it. In other words, if you’ve failed a simple “sorry”, “my apologies” will be expected by your customers and with no doubt really welcome.

Zappos is a good example for that:

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Take the leap… You can’t escape

greatpowerSocial media has nevertheless brought huge changes. These brands have now the power to listen. With such great power comes great responsibilities… Social media moniroring and social media listening are valuable assets. It helps detecting potential crisis communications but I would prefer to underline that instead of worrying about crisis, companies should worry about their customer satisfaction. Because these customers believe in you, invest in you and become naturally part of your own community

Would you abandon a member of your family on the side of the road? Social media works the same! So if you consider that customers are not only “customers complaint”, think of the potential for companies to create long term relationship with their customers: thnik of the following example.

Northface’s community manager seems to have totally change the mood of the customer. Not only can Northface produce great ads full of emotions, but by answering properly, by apologizing and adding concrete actions North Face could have secured this customer for a long time!

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By being reactive and careful with its community a brand can definitely win the challenges imposed by social media changes. I really like the following 2014 example of Jet Blue I recently discovered, which is their answer to a tweet which was not even a complaint against the company!

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It shows that once you have decided to be in the business at the social media age you have to take care of every member and potential member of your community. This is a pretty difficult challenge for every company, but it is quite a commitment for companies who try to do it and could be proud of!