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A short story to illustrate the impact of customer engagement when done correctly

This tale involves two businesses; one that knows how to easily succeed with social media and the other, not so much (read: fail). They both are in the same general market. One is an international winery based in the Northwest. The other is a Seattle-area restaurant chain with 5 locations. Though the industry really isn’t important.


First, the Example of What Not to Do

I was visiting the winery with my wife on a recent Sunday afternoon. The grounds are quite pleasant, with rows of grape vines, an outdoor concert area, and buildings that resemble a french chateau. I saw a beautiful old tree in front of one these buildings, highlighted in sunlight. I took a picture of it with my phone and attempted to broadcast the image with my comments and location to Instagram and Twitter. I also took a short video that I planned to post to Snapchat and Facebook.

However, I couldn’t get a cell signal. So I went into the Gift Shop to ask one of the staff about the wi-fi. This is how the exchange went:

ME to young woman behind the counter: Hi. I see you have wi-fi, can you give me the password? I can’t get a data signal.
semi_Cheerful Staff Member: I’m sorry sir, that is only available to people who attend one of our events. Like a conference.
ME: I see you have three networks (holding my phone up). Not one is available to the public?
CSM: No, just people who attend one of our events.
ME: How about the one marked “Guest”?
CSM: Just the people who are here for a private function. (I might note that there was a second staff member present. He didn’t say anything. Just stood there looking kind of uncomfortable.)
ME: So you’re telling me that if I want to tweet out to my friends that I really like this place, but can’t get a signal, I’m out of luck?
CSM: I’m sorry sir, but it’s our policy…

But I was already walking to the door and didn’t hear the rest. Though it wouldn’t have made any difference. The damage was done.

Over the following weeks, I tweeted directly to the winery (including their Twitter handle) asking for an explanation. I’m still waiting for a response. In the mean time, I’ve shared that story with a dozen people (not counting you). And they all asked, “You were trying to promote their brand and they wouldn’t help you?”

Note of Irony: This business advertises on their website that they are on seven social networks!


The (Easily) Successful Version

About a month ago, my family and I were having dinner at Cactus, a local restaurant that specializes in Southwest cuisine. It was our second time there and we were all pleased with the experience. As we were preparing to leave, the manager, Cooper, came by the table to ask if we enjoyed everything. We all agreed it was very good, but I leaned forward and whispered, “everything was excellent, but I have to say the meat on mine was over-done.”

The manager looked stricken and said, “You know, you’re the second person to mention that. I think that cut just isn’t good for the dish and I’m going to take it off the menu. Let me bring desserts for you all.”

I told him it really wasn’t necessary, just a minor thing, and actually, we don’t really eat dessert. He excused himself and said he would be back in a moment.

He returned and handed me a hand-written card that gave the bearer a free entree. Not an appetizer, but a full meal.

I have yet to cash in that card, but since that evening I have bought at least a dozen dinners in that restaurant. Whichever way you look at the numbers that’s pretty darn good ROI.

But here’s the part about social media.

I later tweeted that I received stellar service and the restaurant’s social media team responded within the hour! And they didn’t self-aggrandize. Their response was directed entirely at me and my experience. Which is the way it should be; about the customer.

And this wasn’t an anomalous event. I’ve tweeted and posted content multiple times that mentioned their brand and they always responded quickly and focused on my enjoyment.

There’s a lot of competition in my neighborhood for the dining dollar, but Cactus has established a relationship (personally and virtually) that guarantees that they will be first on my list when entertaining my family, friends, and clients.

This is why Cactus is a great example of how to easily succeed at social media.


The Takeaway Shortlist for Businesses on Social Media

  • Monitor your social media feeds
    -tools are available that make this super easy.
  • Respond to good and bad comments
    -avoiding the bad is exponential worse than engaging it. people mainly just want to be acknowledged.
  • Focus on the customer first
    -tweets and posts about how great you are is a turn-off. think dating.
  • Provide prospective and current customers with the tools to promote your brand
    -don’t make people work to market you.

Here are a couple of book suggestions for getting your own social media in order. These two authors are foremost in the field:

Ask Gary Vee
You can’t go wrong with anything from Gary Vaynerchuk. This, his fourth book, is the fast track to getting the social media department of your business up to speed and in the game quickly.

Hug Your Haters
With the focus on customer service, Jay Baer’s latest book is more than just a strategy for dealing with complainers. Data-based solutions for those who need to see the numbers.

Find me on Twitter using @allproactive – Patrick Welch

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