When it comes to Social Media, Customer Service and Marketing, you have to do it right, and it has to be done as a fully committed core business value.
Here’s a true scenario (with the names protected to spare the guilty): With two offices, over 100 employees and my personal rigorous travel schedule, you can well imagine what Twist Image spends annually on things like flight and hotels. We’ve also spent a fair amount of time creating relationships where we have corporate rates with a handful of brands that we respect and like giving our business to. A business meeting popped-up that required me to be in one of the cities that I regularly visit. When I called the hotel, I was told that they were sold-out. They asked if I might be interested in another one of their hotels nearby.
That’s when the wheels came off.
They made two recommendations, and when I asked if that was their corporate rate, I was told that even though these hotels fall under the same brand banner, that I would have to negotiate a corporate rate with each of the other hotels, individually. Consumers don’t think like that. Why can’t a corporate rate at one hotel be extended to another one under the same corporate umbrella (they’re quick to share a whole bunch of other cost-saving stuff on the backend)? On top of that, why wouldn’t the person making the reservation put me on hold, call the other hotels and let them know that they can’t accommodate a very frequent guest and would that hotel be able to work something out for the sake of the brand and the relationship?
People don’t see beyond their jobs enough.
The brands that win at great customer service and great Marketing tend to be the ones that can see the predicament not as a flow chart of answers to questions, but rather with a human perspective and desire to not only resolve a situation but make the consumer feel like their business is wanted and important to them. We’re frequently reminded by how backwards Marketers engage in the job of customer service. The people paid the least are usually the ones we put on the front lines to engage and (hopefully) figure out a solution. Helping consumers get what they want (and, in turn, giving brands their money) has become a commodity.
Nobody wants to feel like a commodity.
Marketing needs to remember that Customer Service is the key to real marketing. Bad customer service is going to ruin your business even if you have the best and most innovative product. The only way to overcome that hurdle is to really think long and hard about what you want consumers saying about you in the marketplace, because not only can they share their stories in text, images, audio and video, but they are… everywhere (Blogs, recommendation sites, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc…).
There aren’t many brands who really live by this edict, and most brands fail to realize that all of the Facebook pages and followers on Twitter in the world still won’t change that terrible interaction from taking place and from the brand, ultimately, becoming a total failure.