I wonder about entrepreneurs and companies that are eager to develop their social media strategies and monitoring.
What about the human touch points of their brand? Are they doing everything possible to initiate great customer experiences that result in positive conversations? This is particularly important in retail sales. This past Christmas I had a truly awful retail experience that reminded me the best social media (or marketing) campaigns are wasted efforts if the customer.
Everyone has a bad retail story. Human nature dictates a customer will often share a bad customer experience over a good one. In my case the culprit was the national clothing retailer Moores, the Suit People. (Note: to their credit Moores corporate customer service delivered excellent follow-up.) The problem began with incorrect store merchandising that meant my super deal of “three shirts for $50” were actually far less attractive at two-for-$100.
“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” -Bill Gates
Although the merchandising mistake was the store staff’s fault, they would not honour the price. The staff found even more mis-merchandised products and offered no alternatives, so I requested the assistant manager who was dispatched to provide a resolution
Unfortunately the assistant manager did not have the demeanor, professional skills in conflict resolution or sales ability to uncover my needs and offer an alternative. He bluntly dismissed my concern. At no point did he or anyone in that store apologize for the mistake and offer to find an alternative product. The process ended with the assistant manager walking away as I was speaking. I left unhappy and 15 minutes later I made a purchase at a competing chain in the same mall.
Retail Sales Fail
The online landscape may ever be changing, but the retail sales floor will always remain a place of crucial customer interaction. However, the power of social media sharing has raised the stakes of ineffective customer service to new levels. Today, an unhappy customer wielding mobile technology can equal a very nasty (and virtually instant) Tweet, a negative Facebook status updates or even a Youtube broadcast.
How bad could it get? Online users have made sharing the humourous outcomes of human inadequacies into social communities of their own. These sites are not just an extension of America’s Funniest Home Videos. Popular viral sites and blogs like fail.org are rabidly devoted to exposing every kind of personal “failure” for the sake of entertainment. Consider that according to Alexa, http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/failblog.org 12% of visits to failblog.org are preceded by a visit to Facebook and the negative impact of social media grows exponentially.
Or, Epic Fail?
If a primary strategy of social media is to go where the customer conversations are, then why wouldn’t corporations and business also review their current sales and customer service strategy and ensure their staff has the right skills to help customers solve problems and launch great brand conversations? At the very least, a review of the basics of sales skills and customer service should be part of the bigger social media strategy.
Good customer and sales skills have always been essential to a service-based business. Companies that overlook these essentials their pursuit of social media opportunities could be in for a big surprise and find their brand labeled “epic fail.”