Monday, November 12, 2018

Two Opposite Sides of the Customer Experience Spectrum

Recently, I had two different and, as a result, unforgettable customer experiences. The reason is, they represent the complete opposite sides of the customer experience spectrum. To quote customer service expert Bill Quiseng, "Customer service is all about what you do for a customer. But customer experience is all about how the customer feels about your company." Details of the experiences follow - and please note, neither company was Amazon.

I found an online shoe company that specialized in comfortable shoes for airline personnel - since they are on their feet while they do their jobs. This company had a nice-looking boot that I was interested in purchasing, however, the online reviews indicated that a larger size might be necessary. I called the toll-free number provided on the website. The woman who answered said she had no knowledge about the shoes because she worked in the travel agency associated with the shoe company. Wait a minute, I called the number that the website provided if there were questions about the shoes. While I was scratching my head, the lady gave me an email address for further inquiries. Even more odd, the email address had nothing to do with the shoe company, i.e., the part of the email address after the @ was for a travel agency. How many touchpoints was I, the customer, supposed to have before I found the correct person who had knowledge about the shoes that the company sold?

On the opposite side of the customer experience spectrum, I was again online looking through an eCommerce site where I am a repeat customer. While I have purchased several items from this site in the past, I did not purchase anything on this particular visit. I left the site and didn't think about any of the items I had seen until I received an email from the company about an hour later.

The subject line read: "Oops, forget something?" And the email read as follows:
We noticed something caught your eye. There's still time to add it to your cart.

What a difference! The first company did not care about me as a customer, while the second company clearly valued me, had noticed I had visited its website, and wanted my business.

Here are some key take-aways from my two experiences: How does your brand show that you value your customers? Do you communicate with your customers regularly so that they feel valued? And above all, are your employees educated on company details outside of their area of expertise so that they are able to answer basic customer questions? If not, it's definitely time for some re-training.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Sharing Timeless Leadership Lessons

Over the years, thanks to social media, I have had the privilege to meet and interact with a variety of leadership experts. These leadership experts travel the world sharing their expertise to create better leaders and, as a result, more engaged workforces. One of these experts is James Strock, an independent entrepreneur and reformer in business, government, and politics. His most recent book is a must-read, Serve to Lead 2.0: 21st Century Leaders Manual. Follow James on Twitter @jamesstrock and visit his website at http://servetolead.org. We recently had a discussion about leadership, and highlights follow below.

QUESTION: What defines a great leader that others want to follow?

JAMES STROCK: The ultimate test for leadership is: Would history have been different BUT FOR their service? Few leaders can credibly be accorded this accolade. One thinks of Winston Churchill. His determination to fight Hitler at the height of Nazi power—against the better judgment of many experts and the initial inclination of a large part of the English public—changed the course of history. Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Charles De Gaulle also pass the “but for” test. On the other hand, Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Mussolini, and Mao fail. Any argument for the effect on history is compromised by their reliance on coercion to achieve and maintain power. As such, they’re best seen not as leaders per se, but as criminals.

QUESTION: You often write about Theodore Roosevelt. Which three of his leadership lessons do you consider to be timeless?
JAMES STROCK: TR applied determined intentionality to render his life a leadership lesson for young Americans of his time and into the future. If leadership is performance art, he was writer, actor, director, producer and impresario—as well as his own most demanding critic and appreciative audience. This points to his overriding lesson: if a leader can be seen as personifying his vision, his or her influence can be profound. This most gifted and privileged figure strove to be worthy of the support of what were then called “ordinary Americans,” or the “plain people.” Then and now, we sense that commitment to service.

Second, TR strove to achieve integrity. Amid the kaleidoscopic changes of politics at the turn of the twentieth century, Roosevelt attempted to meet the high but “realizable” ideals he urged for the nation. He would inevitably fall short, but the valiance of the attempt was and is evident and inspiring.

Third, Roosevelt never ceased in his project of self-creation. He embraced change and sought to stretch his capacities, to challenge himself, through the final hours of his life. For such reasons, TR continues to fascinate and inspire people everywhere almost a century after his death in January 1919. In common with his role models, such as, Lincoln and Washington, he was a memorable combination of personal detachment and historical familiarity. Alone among our greatest presidents, many people feel that TR, born in 1858, could walk onto the stage and take charge today. He remains an enduring touchstone for leadership.

QUESTION: How can leaders (Presidents/CEO’s) explain their vision to employees so that they also embrace it?
JAMES STROCK: There are doubtless as many ways to convey a compelling vision to employees and citizens as there are circumstances. What is effective in all times and places is PERSONIFYING THE VISION one would present. That requires a level of commitment to those one is serving, a level of integrity, that is uniquely persuasive.

QUESTION: You appeared on my Blog in 2014, when I interviewed you about leadership, and also in 2011, when I reviewed your inspiring book, SERVE TO LEAD. (Links to the two posts are provided at the end of this Q&A.) Recently, you released a second version of your book. What’s new?
JAMES STROCK: The book includes updates, as well as new information and elaboration gleaned from readers. In addition, the presentation has been redesigned, to render it accessible to readers of all ages. It’s intended as a manual, a book that one can mark up and truly make one’s own. I’m delighted that there has been much positive feedback on the new edition.

QUESTION: Since you last appeared on my Blog, social media has become an important marketing and customer engagement tool. However, how can leaders use social media effectively? Which five leaders do you follow on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram?
JAMES STROCK: Leaders can use social media most effectively with two injunctions in the front of mind. 


First, don’t forget the “social” aspect. It’s meant for sharing, for serving others. Those who use it primarily to broadcast their own news and views, who aren’t using it to listen and learn, are foregoing much of the value. They’re confined by the limitations of serving oneself. 

Second, social media is a powerful tool for accountability. At the higher levels of leadership, the lives and treasure of many people may be at stake. If one is not leading one’s own life and work consistently with one’s expressed values, social media may bring accountability. It’s no accident that social media has resulted in a number of CEO’s being sanctioned for private activities inconsistent with their responsibilities. The entire #MeToo movement could not have become a social change milestone other than in the social media era. How this sorts out will be important, particularly as rising generations of digital natives move into increasing responsibility.

I follow many leaders, in various fields on social media—notably including Debbie Laskey! I strive to receive a range of perspectives. This results not only in learning from experts in expected ways, but, at least as important, from the serendipity of insights and references abounding among curious, engaged, leaders in all walks of life, in the USA and around the world.


Image Credit: James Strock.
___________________

My gratitude and appreciation to James for appearing on my Blog a third time and for sharing his inspiring leadership insights!


Leadership Is All About Serving Others - from 2014:
http://debbielaskey.blogspot.com/2014/03/leadership-is-all-about-serving-others.html
 

Serve to Lead - What a Visionary Concept - from 2011:
http://debbielaskey.blogspot.com/2011/03/serve-to-lead-what-visionary-concept.html

Monday, October 29, 2018

Everything Is Marketing - Especially During the World Series!

No matter what team you rooted for in this year's World Series which resulted in the Boston Red Sox defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers (by winning four games except for the 18-inning record-setting contest), you have to give credit to a quick-serve restaurant, Boston Market.

But before we share the applause for Boston Market, let's take a step back to June of this year when IHOP, famous for pancakes, changed its name to IHOB in a surprise move. Many on social media complimented IHOP for the surprise, which directed attention away from pancakes and breakfasts to burgers and lunch and dinner meals. Admit it, who thinks of IHOP for lunch and dinner? Yes, that WAS a clever marketing move.

Another food brand that changed its name this year is Dunkin' Donuts, which, in September, dropped the word donuts in an effort to be known as Dunkin'. The impetus behind this move was also to direct attention away from a specific food, in this case, doughnuts, so that the brand could evolve and represent a variety of beverages and other items.

Now, we return to Boston Market. As I was driving around Los Angeles this past weekend during the World Series, I drove by a Boston Market. I had to look twice, because there was a banner covering the word BOSTON, so that the sign read: LOS ANGELES MARKET. Talk about changing a brand's name to support the local team!

According to the Los Angeles Times: “The restaurant that proudly bears its name in red, white and black letters is going BLUE for the World Series — at least in Los Angeles. Ten Boston Market restaurants have hung banners with the words “Los Angeles” covering “Boston” in the restaurant’s name, an idea spurred by local managers as excitement over the World Series (grew)," explained Tim Hartmann, the restaurant’s vice president of marketing.

This was an incredibly clever brand name change, even if only temporary, and only in Los Angeles. It makes me wonder if the next brand that changes its name will be able to rival the creativity of Boston, aka Los Angeles, Market. If Boston had been in your brand's name, would you have changed it during the World Series? What's your call?



Image Credit: Debbie Laskey.

Check out my posts about the other name changes earlier this year:

At IHOB, It’s Now All About the Burgers! 
http://debbielaskey.blogspot.com/2018/06/at-ihob-its-now-all-about-burgers.html

Less Means More with This Brand's New Name
http://debbielaskey.blogspot.com/2018/09/less-means-more-with-this-brands-new.html

Friday, October 12, 2018

Fall Reading Recap: Leadership, Branding, and Voice of the Customer Marketing

Have you assembled a stack of “must-read books” left over from your summer vacation? With summer over and the winter holidays quickly approaching, it’s time to catch up on some fall reading. I highly recommend that you add these five leadership, branding, and customer marketing books to your reading list.

THE ENGAGED LEADER: A STRATEGY FOR YOUR DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION
Author and business analyst Charlene Li defines an engaged leader “as someone who uses digital, mobile, and social tools strategically to achieve established goals as they relate to leading people and managing organizations…The openness required is unprecedented, and the trust and transparency are mind numbing for many top leaders who are accustomed to maintaining control and proceeding in an orderly and predictable fashion.”

According to Li, there are three actions necessary for leaders to become engaged: listen, share, and engage. “Listening is the way leaders determine what individuals need from them to enhance the relationship and deepen the connection. Sharing is how leaders use stories and other tools to develop mutual understanding and share people’s mind-sets and thus the actions they take. And engagement is a two-way dialogue that motivates and mobilizes followers to act in concert toward a common purpose.”

Consider using Li’s digital leadership development worksheet from the book:
http://charleneli.com/wp-content/uploads/Engaged-Leader-Worksheet.pdf

VOICE OF THE CUSTOMER MARKETING: A REVOLUTIONARY FIVE-STEP PROCESS TO CREATE CUSTOMERS WHO CARE, SPEND, AND STAY
This book written by Ernan Roman has been called “the definitive playbook for the new customer-driven era.” Roman defines Voice of the Customer (VOC) as the term “to describe the process of capturing critical details regarding the desires, needs and requirements of a given prospect, customer, or target group…VOC yields an in-depth understanding of customer and prospect preferences and actions…and is what allows us to give customers what they really want most from us – and avoid the annoyance and alienation that results from offering them what they don’t want.”

Customers want to know that their voices are heard. Once this happens, according to Roman, they look forward to engaging with and doing business with brands. Here are the five steps that all brands should follow:

[1] Conduct and apply VOC relationship research – achieve greater Customer Lifetime Value (CLV), which is a prediction of the net profit attributed to the entire future relationship with a customer – the most straightforward way to calculate CLV is to take the revenue you earn from a customer and subtract the money spent on acquiring and serving him/her.
 

[2] Create VOC-driven opt-in relationship strategies – focus on the relationship rather than the first contact or first sale. [To see some innovative business-to-customer opt-in strategies, check out what Disney Vacations does: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com.]

[3] Create a VOC-driven multichannel mix – your brand’s messaging might include search engine optimization/online advertising, email, print catalog, billboard advertising, in-store advertising, social media, and word-of-mouth marketing.


[4] Create a VOC-driven social media presence – create a presence on the social platforms where your audiences assemble and engage with them with compelling content (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram/IGTV, LinkedIn, YouTube, Snapchat, etc.).


[5] Invest in an excellent customer service experience – reduce complaints and increase number of repeat customers.

Perhaps, the best way to define voice of the customer marketing in a nutshell: when a business is proactive in its interactions or touch points with a customer.

THE BIRTH OF A BRAND: LAUNCHING YOUR ENTREPRENEURIAL PASSION AND SOUL
In the words of author Brian Smith, the founder of casual comfort brand UGG, “Building a brand, like any natural process, is a gradual, organic, and wildly unpredictable experience.” While many of us have ideas that we think may have the potential to become a national or international brand, the reality is, we don’t. But Smith did, and it’s hard to walk on any street without seeing someone walking in an UGG sheepskin boot. The book shares a myriad of entrepreneurial tips with Smith’s story of bringing UGG footwear to life.

BE BAD FIRST: GET GOOD AT THINGS FAST TO STAY READY FOR THE FUTURE
Leadership author, coach, and trainer Erika Andersen challenges readers to become significantly better learners by the end of the book. Based on her research in writing the book, most people don’t like to look dumb if they ask questions or demonstrate a lack of knowledge or understanding. However, “it’s okay to be bad at those parts of your job that you haven’t yet had the opportunity to learn.”

Here was a great example of being bad: “The first time you’re running a meeting and someone who works for you says something you don’t understand, and you take a deep breath and say, “I’m not sure I’m following you – could you explain that in a different way?” it’s going to feel awkward and even a little scary. But then the person will stop and say, “Oh sure…” You’ll listen and understand; the other person will feel important and helpful; and the trust and openness on your team will tick up a few micro-points. In other words, nothing bad will happen…This will make it much easier to “be bad” the next time. Word will get around that you’re really interested in your folks and good to work for, better conversations will happen, and your employees will start to ask curious questions of their own in meetings.”

Be sure to check out the self-talk about “being bad” and the supportive (and more accurate) alternatives on page 172 of the book.

CRACK THE C-SUITE CODE: HOW SUCCESSFUL LEADERS MAKE IT TO THE TOP
Author Cassandra Frangos has been called “the executive whisperer” by Diversity Women magazine, and her consulting expertise focuses on succession planning, leadership development, and team effectiveness. Her book answers the question, “How can I reach the C-Suite?” by providing an array of insights about the four core paths to the C-Suite:


[1] The tenured executive: internal appointment
Questions to ask: Am I a fit with the culture? Am I passionate about the purpose? Can I change with the organization? Can I create my own opportunities?


[2] The free agent: externally recruited
Questions to ask: Am I a good fit in my present company? What will I do if I am passed over? How fast is my career clock ticking? What is my strategic career plan? Where is my next growth opportunity?


[3] The leapfrog leader: internal or external candidate
Questions to ask: Can I fill a gap in the leadership pipeline? Is the culture stuck, and can I help get it unstuck? Is my functional area of expertise in flux? Are the hiring managers open-minded? Is organizational change imminent?


[4] The founder: new venture creator
Questions to ask: Am I having the impact I want? What problem will I solve? Who are my co-founders? Am I staked financially? Do I have the personal support I need? What will I do if I fail?


In addition to these traditional pathways, there are also the nontraditional pathways: going from consulting to the C-Suite, going to the C-Suite following a merger or acquisition, going from a spinoff to the C-Suite, going from a Board position to CEO, going from COO/CFO/CMO/CSO to CEO, and going from founder/CEO to C-Suite of a different organization.

Bottom line, no two pathways to the C-Suite are the same – they are as different as the leaders who travel them.

What business book is a must-read on your end-of-the-year list? Please chime in and share.

Image Credit: Debbie Laskey’s library.

Follow these accounts on Twitter:
Charlene Li: @charleneli with hashtag #EngagedLeader
Ernan Roman: @ernanroman
Brian Smith: @briansmithugg
Erika Andersen: @erikaandersen
Cassandra Frangos: @c_frangos
Wharton Digital Press: @WhartonDigital

Monday, October 1, 2018

Want Some Customer Satisfaction Secrets?

I’ve met many people on social media, but one that stands out in the customer satisfaction arena is Bill Quiseng. On TweetChats, in my Twitter stream, on GooglePlus, on Facebook, and many more social networks, Bill always shares valuable tips and information. Recently, we discussed customer service and customer experience, and highlights follow below a brief introduction. Bill Quiseng is an
award-winning customer service speaker, blogger and writer. He has been recognized for his customer service and customer experience insight on social media with many accolades, most recently as one of the Top Customer Service Influencers of 2018 by Fit Small Business. Subscribe to Bill's Blog at http://billquiseng.com and join him on Facebook at https://fb.me/billquisengdotcom and Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/billquiseng.

QUESTION: How do you explain the difference between customer service and customer experience?
BILL QUISENG: Customer service is all about what you do for a customer. But, customer experience is all about how the customer feels about your company. It’s not only how the customer feels about your service, but also how he feels about every aspect of your company, from the ease of navigation on your website to the simplicity of understanding the final invoice, and literally every sensory touchpoint in between. In today’s very competitive marketplace, great customer service merely gets you into the game. Great customer experience makes you a winner.

QUESTION: Your pinned Tweet on Twitter says, “To earn new customers, don’t try to get inside their heads. Get inside their hearts. Create an emotional connection.” Can you please elaborate?
BILL QUISENG: Companies brainstorm elaborate journey maps to ensure that, at every touchpoint, the customer experience is consistent and effortless. They believe that, with expectations met, the customer will be satisfied. But satisfied customers are not necessarily loyal customers. If the product and services are similar between several competitors, customers will be more loyal to the company that makes them feel important and special. 


Businesses need to understand and educate their employees that there is a difference between taking care of a customer and caring for the customer. For example, taking care of a hotel guest is checking him quickly, giving him a key to a room that is clean and problem-free. Caring for a guest is recognizing that the guest was obviously under the weather and sending up a cup of chicken soup with a note, “Hope you are feeling better soon.” Taking care of a customer is a transaction. Genuinely caring for a customer generates an emotional connection. And emotionally engaged customers are much more loyal than merely satisfied ones.

QUESTION: What customer experience metric should every brand use, and why?
BILL QUISENG: It seems there is an infinite number of ways to measure customer experience, whether it is NPS, CSAT, FCR, AHT, etc. But if your business is truly customer-centric, then you should come to terms with the fact that customers don’t care about your metrics. They only care about this metric: 1 to 1. No one customer cares about any of the other customers. That one customer only cares about himself. And when that customer interacts with your one employee in front of him, he wants to know what that one employee can do for him at that moment. So, there are only two survey questions needed to measure customer experience:

[1] “Did you feel that the Associate cared about you?” Yes or no. 


[2] Why?

But how will you know if you are being successful? Just read the comments to survey question #2 and you’ll know. Then work hard to eliminate the complaints. And when you earn a lot more yes’s than no’s, you will have vastly improved the only metric that matters to any business: PROFIT.

QUESTION: There is a mindset that a focus on employees, rather than on customers, is the best way to improve service. Can you please elaborate?
BILL QUISENG: If you want to win the hearts of your customers, you must first win the hearts of your employees. And as one of their needs, your employees are looking for opportunities for continuous learning and development. Spend as much money training your people to keep a customer as you spend on marketing campaigns to find a new customer. 

If you want to improve the customer experience and drive employee engagement, you should be actively listening to your employees. Every day, every manager should be asking two questions of at least one employee.

[1] “What are you hearing?” 

Listen to what your employees tell you that customers are complaining about and then do whatever it takes to fix it. And remember, if you want your employees to deliver outstanding customer service, you need to make it a habit to recognize them when they do. 

[2] “Is there anything I can do for you?” 

Anything your employees mention is a hindrance or would be a help to doing their job better. Own the feedback and act on any promise made to them. With the intent to deliver exceptional customer service, remember this mantra: Happy Employees = Happy Customers.

QUESTION: What’s your favorite customer service story?
BILL QUISENG: My favorite story is about Joshie the Giraffe. A young boy lost Joshie, his plush giraffe (stuffed animal toy) while vacationing at The Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island in Florida. When the Loss Prevention team found the stuffed animal, the Ladies and Gentlemen of The Ritz-Carlton created a scrapbook of Joshie’s extended vacation sunbathing in a chaise lounge, getting a massage in the spa, driving a golf cart, and even working a shift in the Loss Prevention department. That was back in 2012, and now as a legendary customer service story, it resonates long after the actual event has passed.

To read the full story about Joshie the Giraffe by the stuffed animal’s owner’s father, @TheChrisHurn on Twitter, here
s the link: 
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-hurn/stuffed-giraffe-shows-wha_b_1524038.html

And to read Part Two – an even better story – by Chris Hurn, here
s the link:
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-hurn/great-customer-service-ne_b_8340954.html

Image Credit: Bill Quiseng.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Less Means More with This Brand's New Name

It's taken a few days for the latest marketing announcement to sink in. In case you're not a doughnut fan, or in this case, a donut fan, you may not have heard the news: After nearly 70 years, Dunkin' Donuts has undergone a rebranding and will now be known simply as DUNKIN'.

According to the company's press release:

Our new name is simpler, shorter and more modern, while still embracing our rich heritage by retaining the familiar pink and orange colors and iconic font that were introduced in 1973. It also speaks to the breadth of our product offerings. We’re all about serving great coffee fast. But we’re also about donuts and baked goods and breakfast sandwiches. All delivered at the speed of Dunkin’.

We are excited to bring the iconic name Dunkin’ to the forefront in a bold way that brings to life how we refill optimism with each cup and bring fun, joy and delight to our guests each and every day. But we’re not changing who we are at the core. We’ve always been, and always will be, a brand that is for on-the-go people, who depend on us to keep running.

And while donuts may no longer appear in our logo, we remain committed to serving our signature donuts and will continue to offer new and seasonal varieties to delight donut lovers everywhere. There is no Dunkin’ without donuts!

You will start to see the new branding on packaging, as well as our advertising, website and social channels beginning in January 2019. The new Dunkin’ logo will also be featured on exterior and interior signage on all new and remodeled locations in the U.S. and, eventually, internationally.

According to Dunkin’ Brands’ CEO and Dunkin’ U.S. President David Hoffmann, “Our new branding is one of many things we are doing as part of our blueprint for growth to modernize the Dunkin’ experience for our customers. From our next generation restaurants, to our menu innovation, on-the-go ordering and value offerings, all delivered at the speed of Dunkin’, we are working to provide our guests with great beverages, delicious food and unparalleled convenience. We believe our efforts to transform Dunkin’, while still embracing our incredible heritage, will keep our brand relevant for generations to come.”

According to Tony Weisman, Chief Marketing Officer, Dunkin' U.S., “By simplifying and modernizing our name, while still paying homage to our heritage, we have an opportunity to create an incredible new energy for Dunkin’, both in and outside our stores. We are bringing the iconic name Dunkin’ to the forefront in a bold way that brings to life how we refill optimism with each cup and bring fun, joy and delight to our customers each and every day.”

What are some key take-aways of this brand transformation? First, if you're a Dunkin' fan, you may be both happy and sad. The name emphasis on donuts may be gone, but the possibility for new products looms on the horizon. And it is clear from everything the top leadership team has said that the brand values its fan base and understands its passion for its products. But a name change is still a name change - just think back to the surprise name change by IHOP earlier this year, when it changed its name to IHOB to shift its emphasis from pancakes to hamburgers.

So, what branding lesson can your brand learn from the Dunkin' name change?

Image Credit: Dunkin'.

Monday, September 24, 2018

5 Tips for Brand Survival in Today's Social Climate


This post originally appeared on Eric Jacobson’s Blog in August. The link can be found by clicking here. Eric and I met in 2009, when we worked together virtually for MicroMentor – Eric in Kansas, and me in California. Since then, Eric has appeared on my Blog four times as a featured guest and countless times with memorable quotes. Eric has more than a quarter-century of experience in both leadership and product development, and I’m honored that he asked me to share my perspective on this important branding and social media topic.

Image Credit: Twitter.

There is no denying that social media has changed how brands communicate. All aspects of business have been affected from technology to human resources to marketing. Even more important, all employees have become their own personal brands – some even major influencers – with their own fans and followers. Therefore, in today’s social climate, who owns a brand’s messaging?

Employees can post content to damage an employer’s brand, and customers can post content to damage a brand. This has dramatically changed how brands interact with and respond to their customers, prospective customers, fans, media, and other stakeholders.

So, while many of your employees may understand social media, does your brand understand its nuances? How well does your brand navigate among the myriad of social platforms? How do you choose which platforms to allocate time and money? Do you know where the majority of your audiences congregate? And most importantly, do your stakeholders engage with YOU on social media?

While you may have a Facebook page or a Twitter account, if you’re not posting regularly and conversing with fans and followers, you’re wasting your time. So, in order for your brand to survive for the long haul in today’s social climate, here are five tips.

[1] BE TRANSPARENT
If you’re launching a new product or service, make an announcement and let your customers and fans know. If there is a delay, be up front and also make that announcement. If there is a problem, make that announcement. Don’t wait for a member of the media or, even worse, the competition to discover the delay or problem. Their announcement will not be kind. Own the news – that way, you craft your brand messaging and narrative.

[2] BE CONSISTENT
Maintain a consistent name for all social media platforms. If a brand name is not available, use a familiar tagline. If “Nike” had been unavailable, the company could have used “JustDoIt,” and everyone would immediately have recognized that any account with that name belonged to Nike. With all the social sites available to your brand, take time to conduct a social media audit and re-evaluate the names of all your accounts.

[3] USE #HASHTAGS
Create and use hashtags with your brand name, your company name, key employees if they are industry influencers, and more. And use these hashtags on all your social platforms. You may even use them on traditional marketing collateral, such as, business cards, letterhead, brochures, etc. Hashtags are a way to stand out and introduce your brand to more audiences. Currently on Instagram, you’re able to add 30 hashtags to a single post.

[4] INVITE FEEDBACK
If you only want certain feedback, otherwise known as five stars, don’t ask for it. Some customers will be long-winded, others will be positive, and some will be negative. To quote Bill Gates, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” So, as with the rest of your social media strategy, which must be aligned with your overall annual marketing plan, have a feedback plan. Instead of drafting a simple survey, think of why questions and responses would benefit your leadership team. In addition, you may decide to use a number of customer satisfaction tools to gauge customer loyalty, company health, or brand health (for example, Net Promoter Score, Customer Satisfaction Score, or Customer Lifetime Value) – if you do, understand the value they can provide.

[5] LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN

Set up alerts for your brand, company name, industry, and more. This will let you know when others are talking about your brand or brands and allow you to chime in when appropriate. You will also be quickly informed if someone says something negative or untrue about your brand so you can comment or chose to remain silent. You may also wish to set up alerts about your competition and key influencers in your industry. The sites to use are Google Alerts (https://www.google.com/alerts) and Talkwalker (https://www.talkwalker.com/alerts).

There are a few important things to remember in social media. First, there are so many Tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram posts, etc., that the likelihood of one of your posts going viral is slim-to-none. But then again, you never know. With that in mind, second, make sure that whatever you post would not embarrass your brand. There are too many stories about brands losing spokespeople and market share due to a single tweet. And third, keep in mind that once content has been posted, it will assume a life of its own. You never know who might see it.

In 2009, soon after I joined Twitter, I shared a blog post, and shortly thereafter, Maxine Clark, Founder and then-President of Build-A-Bear, retweeted my tweet. We corresponded a bit on Twitter and then via email, and soon afterward, we spoke about branding, marketing, and plush animals by phone – truly, a Twitter success story!

Lastly, memorize my favorite tweet from customer experience expert Vala Afshar and practice it every day. If you do, your brand will be a memorable social media survivor! 


TWEET THIS: Don't do social, be SOCIAL: Sincere, Open, Collaborative, Interested, Authentic and Likeable. –@ValaAfshar

For more about Instagram hashtags:
https://riotlysocialmedia.com/blog/instagram-hashtags-guide

For more about NPS:
https://www.netpromoter.com/know/

For details about 9 Customer Success Metrics to Boost Business Growth:
https://survicate.com/customer-success/cs-metrics/