With all the hype around social marketing, one would think success is all but guaranteed once a business creates a Facebook fan page, launches a Twitter account and/or posts amazing videos on YouTube, right? But, what if you are “socially inept” in real life? What do I mean by socially inept? I mean that when customers engage with you in real-life, they find you inept.
How many companies out there do the whole social marketing thing really well, but then fail miserably with the real-world customer experience?
Here’s an example: I recently signed up for the mailing list of a well-known retail chain. By signing up I was enabling them to market to me. My reward for providing my contact information was that I would receive coupons which could be used on merchandise in their stores. Since I have always liked their stores, I felt this was a fair trade – my information in exchange for discounts. Now, it’s important to note that a retailer’s hope is that I will spend enough to cover not only the cost of the discount they offer by providing me with a coupon, but encourage me to spend more and on items I might otherwise try. Smart, right?
Well, a few days ago I visited one of their locations, coupon in hand. I was all set to buy something I had had my eye on for some time, but could not justify buying at full price. And, I intended to look for accompanying accessories even though the discount would not be applied to those. So far their strategy was working. Now, imagine my disappointment when I found the item I coveted was not where I had seen it last, and no one in the store seemed to know where it had been moved. Even worse was the made-up response I received from an employee who was too busy chatting with several other employees to ask someone in the know about this mysterious disappearance. She confidently announced, “Those items were sent back. We no longer carry them.” Really? A brand new and very popular item was sent back? Sent to where? Now, since I know a thing or two about this chain, and how their merchandise comes and goes, I knew she made up her response!
What do you think happened? That’s right, I left…empty handed. And, it’s not likely that I’ll return anytime soon just because I have a coupon, something I might have been likely to do in the past.
In the end, it does not matter how amazingly well you manage your social marketing strategy if the basics of customer service at the store level are completely lacking. Yes, social marketing can be an important part of an overall branding strategy. But, it cannot replace great customer service. Your brand depends on customers feeling valued. My example did not leave me feeling valued. And, it certainly did nothing for my impression of this well-known brand.