"LET ME TALK TO YOUR MANAGER!!" - famous last words in traditional customer service channels.
There’s no equivalent on social channels because, quite simply, customers now expect to talk directly to brands on there. So it’s not like they’ll ask you to “escalate” the issue to your social media director or department head because, well, there is no such entity behind a Twitter or Facebook service account. There’s a brand, or a brand’s customer care division, and that’s about it.
If you don’t get satisfaction, you can make more noise, get nasty, rally the troops around a cause, even make a viral video - or buy negative ad placement on Twitter - and cause all sorts of PR problems for a brand. But you still can’t “talk to the manager”.
However, that’s not exactly true. Because in fact, some brands have a social CEO and people will - believe me - hit him or her up real fast if they have unresolved issues. That was the case at Autodesk with CEO Carl Bass. It’s also true at ING and a few other big logos. “Few” being the keyword unfortunately.
That’s a shame because I think brands are more humanized by having C-level folks on social networks. There’s a sense of authentic and genuine care by doing that - it’s like the whole “family” from top to bottom is out there in the fray listening and caring about what customers have to say.
Some folks will say “Well, you can’t have a C-exec on social. Their accounts will get hacked or abused or flooded”. Nonsense. In my experience, people are fair and reasonable about hitting up Top Honchos for stupid reasons.
And if they do, it probably means the brand’s mainstream social care channels have a problem. Happy loyal customers don’t typically ask for a manager. But if they do, they should have a pathway to appeal. In turn, you get a clue.
So if you want your brand to be perceived as more “human”, and if you want to really be social - as opposed to just doing the social jig - put your top dogs on the wire. It’s only fair to you and your customers.
Interesting article lately about the brand-to-brand interaction on Twitter we saw taking place during the recent Superbowl event. I don’t see why brands wouldn’t talk to each other in social since, after all, social is supposed to “humanize” brands. And if people interact 1:1 on social channels, then why shouldn’t brands?
And like H2H interaction, some of these brand-brand exchanges will be meaningful, and others complete #fails. The only thing I have a slight issue with is this quote from Newcastle brand manager Quinn Kilbury:
"This kind of interaction with other brands is good for everyone, the consumer included, as long as brands are smart about it and have fun with it…"
Because honestly, from what I’ve seen so far, these exchanges might be amusing - at best - but I don’t see how good it’s been for customers.
What I think would be good for customers is if brands started having each others’ backs on social. We did this at Autodesk several times and called it “passing the ball”.
So if brand A sees a brand B’s customer having a problem - even on a completely unrelated channel - and brand A realizes brand B somehow missed that post, then brand A notifies brand B either in public or via back-channels.
It’s good social citizenship, it’s supportive, and it builds relationships among social teams - even in completely unrelated industries. And you know how small a world it is out there.
Not only does this benefit both brands, but more importantly, it benefits customers. Social is all about caring - caring about peers, colleagues, and customers.
So the next time you strategize about inter-brand play on social channels, remember that being funny is okay. But being a good social citizen and helping customers - even other companies’ customers - is always money in the bank. Figuratively of course :)
So stay social my friends, and most importantly, stay warm and safe if anywhere on the East Coast these days!
Things I’m grateful for this Thanksgiving 2013 besides the obvious fact that I’m still breathing and walking around the planet:
- my super smart, supportive and beautiful gal for whom I moved back to NJ eight months ago and who still hasn’t thrown my ass out of the house
- the chance to celebrate this oh-so American holiday while back in this nutty homeland (although Switzerland will forever be in my heart)
- the fact that my mom’s eye operations went so fast and so well that I’m still blown away by recent progress made in cataract surgery
- the chance I have to be part of and observe a tech startup actually reach escape velocity as opposed to petering out
- the latest addition to my really tiny (but growing) watch collection because when you’re a watch nut well…there’s little hope for cure :)
- last but not least, I’m grateful for all our friends - both in the flesh and digital - who support and entertain us on a continuous basis - you know who you are.
Interesting article on LinkedIn this morning from Shane Snow about how Snapchat is “screwed”. I, for one, wouldn’t mind being “screwed” to the tune of “I don’t need your $3B so take a long walk off a short pier, Facebook” but that’s just me :)
All I know is my girlfriend’s twelve year old swears by the service. And he never goes on Facebook. To me, that pretty much seals the deal. What do I know?
You see many people make predictions or statements about what businesses are really “worth” - and I think “worth” is a very dangerous concept. In an open market economy, “worth” is nothing more than what people (and competitors) perceive you to be.
In closed, government-controlled markets, “worth” is what a bunch of bureaucrats need to say you’re worth in order to justify some policy or make people feel better about the economy.
In either case, “worth” is pure smoke and mirrors. Fantasy in one case, wishful thinking in the other.
Sometimes you hear people say, “Hey, they must be worth a lot otherwise, why would all these investors have poured money into them?” Or better yet, “They must be worth a lot or they wouldn’t have all these customers!”
Dubious on both counts. There are a lot of misguided or unlucky investors out there. And others just hedging bets. And there are a lot of customers who simply don’t have other choices at the moment. “At the moment” being the key phrase.
So net-net, you don’t really know if your business is “screwed” or what it’s “worth” until you eliminate debt completely, while making a profit. And until you’re going against tough, competent, competitors on a regular basis and beating them in the process. Oh, and generating repeat business via loyal customers too.
It’s kind of like what one of my ex-bosses did at Hublot, and Blancpain before that. But he’s an old-fashioned dude.
Until then, you may be “screwed” or you may be “worth” something. But it’s all speculation at best and the odds aren’t in your favor. The best strategy, as my sailor friend Max used to say, is to keep your eyes on the horizon, and the wind at your back. And not worry so much about being worth something or plain screwed.