Social media is proving to be a great tool for retail customers, building loyalty, driving traffic, sales, advertising, and customer service. Customers can find out information about new products, promotions in-store, and online sales. It can be a great way to build customer loyalty and sales, but it can also backfire.
Social media can be very damaging to a company if a customer experiences a negative experience or a company has a poor PR strategy. No matter how well a company does on Twitter, Facebook or other social media platforms, the backlash can be swift. This is where the old retail rule that a lost sale can never be made up for applies to social media. However, it is magnified by the word-of-mouth effect. It’s not good to be caught unaware of a plan for resolving a social media crisis. This is especially true in retail where customers have many options. There are five things you can do in order to avoid the worst possible reaction, or none at all, when the inevitable firestorm starts.
1. Flip the sign so that it says “Closed” on social media.
You can manage the crisis better by closing down social media, at least temporarily, just as you would close down a physical store if something goes wrong. You can put an end to your regular content and paid advertising programs by reviewing the tools and other avenues for automatic posting. This will allow you to review your content and decide if new messaging is needed for customers or the general public.
Once you have a handle of the crisis, you can reopen your social media channels once you’ve reviewed any future posts for incendiary content. You should also monitor new posts to ensure that the problem is resolved.
2. 2.Affix a virtual sign that says “We’ll Be Back” to the front door.
You don’t have to pause your posts to post something. You need to respond to any difficulty. This is why you will want your “back at noon” sign up on your social media doors. While you can customize your posts according to the medium and audience, these messages should be clearly embedded in every post.
* We are listening and will address your concerns.* While we don’t yet have an answer, we are still working on it.
* An update can be expected by
Your message to a customer will likely look something like this: Hello Jenny, thank you for letting me know about the problem with [product/service/people]. We are currently investigating the problem and will post an update on our blog at [URL] tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. CT.
Remember that your message must feel genuine and not forced. Avoid using mechanically copied responses and natural language. Use language that is appropriate for brand communications.
It may also be a good idea to choose who you respond to when dealing with customers. It may be easier to respond to all conversations on Facebook if there is only one, such as under a brand post, or the page itself. If customers are flaming up Twitter, it might be worthwhile to only respond to the most influential people.
3. Be wise when choosing response platforms
Sometimes a simple response is enough if the problem is caught early enough. You can get your most compassionate employee to talk with the customer if it is just one person or small groups of people causing trouble on social media. You need to find out the root cause of the problem and offer a solution. If the customer is upset about the treatment she received at a brick and mortar location, tell her that you are reviewing training procedures and offer to give her a gift certificate or other token of appreciation. This could actually turn the conversation around and she might instead write about her positive experience with the brand.
It’s not possible to contain it by phone. If it has, then you can start to herd your cats. To consolidate the discussion, get everyone to the same platform like a blog. Make sure customers have a place to vent. Make sure to pay attention to what your customers are saying on Facebook. If they’re complaining about something on Facebook and not a single person is following them on Twitter, keep it that way. Sometimes, one channel, such as Twitter, gets the attention of the issue. But it is usually industry analysts and media, and not customers who are happy moving on Facebook and don’t care about the issue. You should understand who is involved so that you can tailor your response.
4. Take care.
It is easy to fall for the trap of empty platitudes or apologies that don’t mean anything to customers. This can be even more fuel for them to believe that the company doesn’t care about what happened and won’t accept responsibility.
Accept the problem. If you are blaming the customer for the problem, “We’re sorry” will be interpreted as putting blame on them. “We’re sorry we didn’t live up to your expectations” is acknowledging responsibility. This is what customers want. You can then explain what went wrong.
Make sure to start with an apology and not the explanation. Do not try to make it go away. Instead, be humble and acknowledge the problem. Make sure to communicate that you are taking steps to correct it, regardless of whether it is off-color executive behavior or a regional problem. Recognize that customers are upset. The team cynic can read your responses and play Devil’s advocate before you post. He will poke holes in any misinterpretation. Customers are already upset and don’t need more provocations so you want to deconstruct your posts before they post. While your approach to it may differ, a humble company will be more likely forgiven.
5. Keep in touch.
You’ll need to be vigilant as you react to the crisis, just like you would with changing products in brick-and mortar stores or online. Customers who have been burned are more sensitive than ever and can easily start a new firestorm. Answer questions, respond to posts and continue to answer the original problem. However, you should also keep an eye on all channels for any new or related problems.
Make sure that the PR team is kept informed. You can collaborate with them to ensure that the messaging is consistent for social media and the general population, as well as to ensure that blogger outreach is in full swing. PR can assist with reaching out to influencers in order to ensure they are receiving the correct information for their readers. Thanks to the influencers. Show, not tell, that you learned from the incident. This will help your brand’s story be one of improvement.
Retail will be defined by touch points in 2016
Retailers are obsessed with customer experience and have experimented with revolutionary technologies such as QR codes or iBeacons to improve their competitiveness. These projects are based on the assumption that once they are installed, they will bring footfall, conversions or loyalty. However, these technologies often fail to meet expectations when implemented without aligning with a retailer’s value proposition.
Technology’s role in multi-channel environments is undeniable. However, focusing on technology alone can lead to a lack of personalization and a stale shopping experience. A customer-centric approach that is focused on delivering value everytime will lead to a successful digital strategy. Retailers will continue to place emphasis on creating touch points that align customer needs and their business goals in the coming year.
Let’s take a closer look at three areas where retailers can create value for customers and generate some ROI for their business.
Recently, the E-tailing Group conducted a survey with approximately 1106 shoppers. 84 percent of them stated that self-service was their top choice when it came to retail services. This tells us why convenience and value are top reasons for investing in retail technology. What is the reason? Service efficiency reduces customer strain, increases satisfaction, and can increase loyalty which could lead to more sales for the retailer.
Retailers can now offer convenience with self-service kiosks. Self-checkout stations eliminate long lines and wait time. These kiosks can also be used as interactive touch points to collect insights about user behavior when they browse and order online or in-store. This personalized and intimate experience allows shoppers unlimited access to the product inventory of a retailer or additional information such as price and availability. This helps retailers stand out from other brick-and mortar stores by keeping customers engaged in-store.
Solutions for staff
Retail still has a human element. The need for face-to-face customer support is not going away. It’s part and parcel of retail. Shoppers still desire to talk with sales representatives, ask questions, feel the product and get expert advice before making a purchase. However, shoppers are becoming more knowledgeable and have higher expectations. If they are to close the sale, store associates will need to be able to answer more detailed and informative product questions.
Retailers can equip their employees with the necessary tools to better serve customers by using Raymark Mosaic’s clienteling and assisted-selling solutions. Customers can be provided with inventory information by employees. These solutions enable retailers to identify customers. Employees can also make personalized and informed suggestions by using data such as purchase history. Your employee referred to the customer’s purchasing history and found that she loves matching jeans and boots, which allows you to sell a sweater. This is a win-win situation for everyone.
Traditional retail transactions involve two steps: product selection and purchase at the point-of-sale. Because your customers are moving ahead, retailers can’t think of transactions in this manner anymore. Retail service and transactions must feel the same in an age when customers can shop online 24/7. The store environment should also reflect this.
Customers must have a seamless experience, regardless of their location. Cross-platform integration may be required between clienteling, assisted selling solutions, and point-of sale. In some cases, this could require an all-in-one platform. One of the most interesting insights is the increasing popularity of contactless and mobile payments as a preferred method to transact. Solutions like PayPal Here make it easy for small businesses to accept contactless and mobile payments without having to break the bank.
The consumer is more informed and connected than ever before. Retailers have not always been able to take advantage of this trend, especially if they remained passive and watched as others implemented their digital strategies.
Retailers that are able to move ahead in 2016 will make segmented Omni-channels more flexible and robust. They will be customer-centric and focus on maximising value at every touch point. This will ensure a profitable return.
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