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One of the more exciting aspects of customer service moving from phones and email to a wide variety of social channels is that brands can engage in public dialogue with customers – everyone else can see the conversations that are taking place.
In some cases the conversations can be hilarious; in particular where retailers develop a bond between customers that demonstrates their own brand culture. Look at some of the examples published in this Daily Telegraph article to see what I mean.
The team at Argos replied to a customer reflecting the same street slang used on the initial question. Greggs offered a tray of doughnuts to Google if they could fix the problem of someone uploading an edited corporate logo on Google Maps. Google responds by saying they can fix it if Greggs gives them a sausage roll in addition to the doughnuts! Look at the conversation undertaken by the Sainsbury’s team when a customer asks a question using an obvious pun.
Some brands shy away from this type of communication, preferring instead to hide behind corporate communication directives and style guides. Of course, when the customer was receiving answers by email, this might have been more necessary, but I think there is a need to reflect a more casual style of social communication. Brands that can reflect their own culture as a business and engage customers in dialogue not only succeed in helping that customer, but they reinforce the culture of the brand as many other customers will see interesting exchanges and share them.
Greggs was recently featured in a Buzzfeed article titled “19 times Greggs was unexpectedly brilliant at Twitter.” There are many amusing images that Greggs has shared with the intention of getting customers and fans of the brand to share them – such as an emergency fire alarm containing a sausage roll – but they also comment on the posts of others.
It requires confidence in your brand to allow the customer service team the freedom to engage in this type of dialogue, but it also reflects how social networks operate. Brands don’t call a meeting to decide on the wording of a tweet: they empower smart individuals who understand the brand values to just go out there and comment. For retail companies like Greggs, Tesco, and Argos this allows a real conversation with customers, and is a marketing boost because the brand culture can be reinforced with these exchanges.
What do you think about retail brands having open conversations with customers? How does this help to define brand culture? Leave a comment here and let me know, or get in touch via my LinkedIn.