We’ve recently helped a number of clients leverage their social media relationships to drive in-store promotional opportunities. And while each instance was a success, each instance also had its element of surprise along the way. It doesn’t matter how much you plan, script, practice or envision the outcome in advance, at some point, someone will ultimately zig when they should zag. We are humans interacting with humans after all.
So what do you do when you realize that things aren’t quite on plan, especially in this new world of instant adoration/rants via status posts and comments? Similar to being live on stage: stay fluid. Don’t panic and don’t shut down.
If the twist is minor – as in the customer presented the coupon on their phone instead of a printed copy – adjust and communicate to everyone on your team so they can follow suit. It’s much better to keep the customer engaged and delighted by keeping the experience easy (ergo, accept the phone coupon) then hurt and frustrated because they missed a small step. Remember, customers from your social communities are your brand advocates. They are seeing your promotion as a ‘reward’ for their support and recommendation of your brand. Why treat them otherwise? Your taking of the extra step versus your forcing them to jump through hoops gives your brand advocates something positive to talk about. It’s good customer service and it’s just one more reason they love your brand.
If the surprise is unreasonable – as in the customer grossly misinterpreted your offer – be open and use common sense to help undo the confusion. You may not be able to completely turn the situation around but at least you made an honest attempt. Should your customer elect to not say anything in person and instead air dissatisfaction on your Facebook page or via Twitter, acknowledge their right to do so. Your social communities should be designed to facilitate open communication, right? Do not delete and ignore their posts, as you will only make a bad situation worse. Reach out and offer assistance. Be respectful and know when to move the conversation offline. Also, by giving them room to speak, you are also giving others opportunity to engage. You may be surprised at how quickly your community of advocates will step in and speak on your behalf.
Of course, the best way to avoid big surprises is by entering the promotion strategically and with a plan of action. Make sure all of your employees are aware of the event as well as the communication touch points leading up to it. A good rule of thumb is to craft your promotion so it feels spontaneous and organic to your social media communities yet purposeful and actionable to your team. Also, make sure to monitor feedback. Doing so gives you opportunity to thank those who took part as well as learn something new for next time.
Offering special promotions to members of your social communities is a great way to deepen brand engagement. Make it meaningful, keep it simple and always remember that being open and forthright is the best way to be.