Service With A Tweet
Even if lots of customers are going social, does that necessarily mean Facebook and Twitter interactions influence customer behavior? The short answer is yes. Twenty-four percent of the 10,000 consumers surveyed by Accenture last fall say they're "more likely to do business with a company that they can interact within a social media environment," up slightly from 21% in 2010. What's more, 25% of survey respondents who use social sites at least occasionally said social media comments influence their opinions about companies or brands, up from 18% in 2010.
Companies that aren't at least monitoring social media, let alone participating, "have a real blind spot as to what is really driving consumer purchase decisions," says Robert Wollan, managing director of Accenture's CRM practice.
Whirlpool learned about the risk of ignoring social media in 2009 when Heather Armstrong, author of the widely read Dooce.com blog, decided to take her grievances about a repeatedly botched Maytag washing machine repair into the social sphere (Maytag is one of several Whirlpool brands). Armstrong wrote in her blog that she warned a Whirlpool service rep that she had more than 1 million Twitter followers and was contemplating going public. She said Whirlpool's service rep told her that threat wouldn't make a difference in the handling of her service case.
After recounting her service woes in her blog, Armstrong also used Twitter as an electronic megaphone, warning her followers with tweets saying things like, "OUR MAYTAG EXPERIENCE HAS BEEN A NIGHTMARE."
Surprise, Armstrong soon got a call from a Whirlpool executive and her machine was quickly repaired. Soon after that, the 100-year-old company took to social like a new religion. It set up Facebook pages for its Amana, KitchenAid, Maytag, and Whirlpool brands, and it started monitoring Twitter and other social sources, implementing Attensity customer experience management and sentiment analytics applications. Whirlpool's public relations, customer service, and digital marketing teams now engage with customers through social media, and they collaborate to ensure a consistent brand experience.
Initially, Whirlpool rarely responded to consumer service comments on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Epinions.com, PissedConsumer.com, and My3Cents.com. Instead, it attempted to figure out who those customers were and responded directly through contact information available on sources such as product registration cards. By 2010, the company got over those fears, and it now responds on social media and asks to resolve the complaint privately through email or by phone.
Small Business Gets Social
The most direct way to get to know customers in the social sphere is to get them to "like" you, follow you, or whatever the vernacular is on the network in question. That's what Wrigleyville Sports--a small business that sells sports-related clothing and novelties like a panini maker that puts the Chicago Cubs logo on your sandwich--has been trying to do as part of a push into e-commerce. Wrigleyville has two stores in Chicago and one in Pittsburgh, but the fastest-growing part of its business is its four e-commerce sites: Wrigleyville Sports.com, ChicagoTeamStore.com, ThePittsburghFan.com, and Philly TeamStore.com.
Wrigleyville has been building a following on its Facebook page for more than three years, and it now has nearly 22,000 likes--respectable for a niche retailer with fewer than 50 employees. The company uses the campaign management tools in its online NetSuite CRM application to track the results of sales and marketing efforts from Facebook, Twitter, display ads on its various sites, and email lists associated with specific stores and commerce sites and customer segments.
Its Facebook page posts use much of the same content as it uses in email campaigns. Its Twitter campaigns have to be boiled down to 140 characters.
Wrigleyville's 2011 holiday efforts included a Cyber Monday campaign that offered 10% off. Another campaign offered a $10 off coupon to customers who made more than one purchase exceeding a certain value during the year. The campaigns were delivered by targeted email lists, Facebook post, tweets on Twitter, and banners and promos on the e-commerce sites.
Wrigleyville tracks results using unique campaign codes issued through NetSuite's CRM marketing automation system and embedded as links within the ads. The company counts open rates, click-throughs, and completed transactions by campaign, creative, site, social network, email list, and customer segment. Wrigleyville also knows which customers responded, how much they spent, and what they purchased, so it can measure conversion rates, the value of keyword buys, and the ultimate return on campaigns.
Wrigleyville also mounts social-specific promotions. For example, last year it ran a Mother's Day contest on its Facebook page exhorting visitors to post a picture of Mom demonstrating why she's the biggest Chicago Cubs fan. Wrigleyville tracks purchases related to the promotion with NetSuite-issued codes that tell the company which promotions yield the most profitable new customers.