In a virtual world where social media puts customers on the same plane as CEOs, branding can get pretty interactive — which is helpful when there’s a whole community of supporters behind your cause and your brand. The approach can work one of two ways:
- Start a following and count on customer feedback to organically spread your brand or,
- Regulate feedback into positive (but predictable) channels.
Here’s how it looks:
A ridiculous request
One hotel hit the virtual jackpot when a story shared by one of its customers went viral. When a guest booked a room using an online form, he jokingly requested that the hotel staff place three red M&Ms on the counter and a photo of bacon on the bed. The hotel fulfilled his ridiculous request, much to his amusement and surprise. The photos he posted of their customer service went viral, giving the hotel national coverage.
Customer voices matter more with a social media megaphone
The gamble? Social networks have just as much volatile potential as they do a positive one (remember the national outcry when Twinkies went away?). Recently, a national coffee chain saw an outcry from customers about its rewards program policies. When certain members started seeing emails about losing points, they took to Twitter with 140-character complaints. Surrounded by immediate responses, these customers expected open communication from their favorite brand. When they began to distrust their store, unhappy customers sent up virtual warning flares for all of their followers to see.
Unhappy customers sent up virtual warning flares for all of their followers to see.
Instead of trying to let their winnings ride, some organizations have intentionally shaped their social connectivity to enhance positive feedback channels from users. Individual companies or collaborative apps give users the option to favorite or share what they see and like—and then make a purchase almost instantly. Shoppers happily spend their time and money without thinking about the virtual apparatus they use. As a result, shopping becomes social as shoppers interact and browse each others’ virtual closets.
A small worthwhile risk
Happy customers and bigger followers happen when high customer service standards work with a virtual experience that focuses on positive feedback. It’s a gamble worth testing out.