Recently I listened to a CBC Under the Influence podcast that highlighted brands executing stellar customer service. To illustrate, the host told a story about Zappos, an online retailer that sells shoes, clothing and accessories. The story goes something like this.
One night, a group of people returned late to their hotel room. Someone in the group was craving pizza and was told room service had ended. As a joke, one member of the group suggested calling Zappos. Even though Zappos doesn’t sell pizza, the customer service rep found a list of local pizza places that would deliver to the hotel. This story reinforces the bold statement they have posted on their website: “Customer service isn’t just a department!” The entire organization is built around one sole mission: to provide the best customer service possible.
I presumed that a company making this statement would have a strong social media strategy. I wasn’t mistaken. In fact, Zappos is frequently listed as a company that has it all figured out. I did a little research, and saw that they do a very good job with Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Their social media presence includes lots of photos and videos, and, most important, lots of engagement.
They appear to be doing their best work with Twitter, where they have a very active following of over 32,000. It is through Twitter where they continue to display their exemplary attention to customer service and the effort they’ve made to create real relationships with their fans and customers. Here’s another example: a customer tweeted that the 5 day shipping of the birthday gift he bought for his brother would arrive too late – he wondered if it could get there in 3 days instead. Zappos answer? “This order is going to ship out today and your brother will have his birthday present tomorrow!” That’s pretty good. Short, sweet, and an immediate solution provided. There was no lengthy dialogue, no redirecting. And, the answer was delivered within 30 minutes.
Zappos makes sure to always be engaged with their audience. And its not only replies to inquisitive direct @mentions, but also to indirect @mentions. They alsoknow its wise to team up with other brands to achieve better engagement and double the possible reach. And all of their posts reflect that they truly understand their audience. For example, they often post charming, low-key and funny branded short-form social videos.
Zappos also does a great job of promoting themselves and their products through the use of their customers’ testimonials. They were one of the first companies to create a Twitter aggregation page on their website that pulls in all the mentions of the company. This is obviously a great way to illustrate the brand’s authority as well as promote in one spot the various Twitter accounts the company has.
Valiquette Sports is a company that could benefit from a revamped social media strategy. They have a presence on social media, however I’m not so sure they developed a strategy prior to engaging in the medium. As with many small-to-medium companies, it looks like they entered social media without a strategy. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but if they are putting in the time they could benefit from doing a little more work up front.
They are using Twitter, however they have only 15 followers – hardly a following large enough to get excited about. It takes time to build a following, but perhaps they aren’t using the proper techniques for their audience.
Because it is a sports store, their audience includes primarily people who are active, or have children who play sports, or both. They could be targeting this group through various channels – identifying groups that are populated with active individuals, and engaging with them. There are many groups for each of the sports they supply equipment for – hockey, baseball, football, etc. Through these groups they could build trust in their knowledge and expertise of sports equipment, which would drive traffic to their Twitter account.
One of the best ways to begin this engagement would be by developing their own blog on their website. They have a newsletter, however, unlike blogs, newsletters aren’t set up to stimulate engagement with the audience. The blog would allow them to not only prove to their audience that they know their products, but that they care about their customers and what they have to say. It is the perfect place for their customers to interact with the company as well as themselves – building a community. In addition, blog subscribers will more than likely become followers on Twitter.
Their facebook account is actually not bad – it’s their twitter account that could improve considerably. The posts aren’t as regular, there are spelling mistakes, and many if not most of the posts aren’t engaging. Some of them don’t offer any value at all, which can be annoying more than anything. With only 15 followers it’s difficult to keep the tweets engaging, however there are ways they can build that through retweets and posting valuable information that their current followers will want to share.
Valiquette’s is a local company which could benefit by building on their local community involvement. At the other end of the spectrum, they could be sharing articles and testimonials from professionals on the products they sell. They could share articles and stories on anything that is fitness related – all sports, activities and health in general. They could be sharing stories about the successes of local minor teams – these are tweets that would be shared and increase awareness of the company and help define its brand.
A perfect place to start would be to get the interest of large groups such as the various minor hockey and football associations that have larger followings. Once they have these on board they will benefit from posting valuable information that these associations will share to their audiences, who could then be inclined to follow Valiquette’s.