Harnessing The Unmatchable Power of Social Customer Care

social customer care

A social customer care example, what the “the tale of kale” can teach you.

When Chick-fil-A recently announced it was dropping coleslaw from it’s menu in favor of healthier menu selections such as kale and broccolini, the company received a social media backlash nearly akin to the public outrage at the introduction of New Coke in 1985.

Following the announcement, Chick-Fil-A’s Facebook page was quickly flooded with posts from disgruntled customers like this one:

“I am boycotting Chick-fil-A for one year, because of their lame move to remove coleslaw from their menu.”

#ChickFilA became a trending hashtag on Twitter, with tweets expressing strong sentiment about the move:

“You’re replacing your coleslaw with KALE!? WTF #ChickFilA??? Way to ruin 2016 already.”

But faster than the cow could say “Eat mor chikin,” Chick-Fil-A responded by releasing the recipe for its beloved coleslaw and even publishing a tongue-in-cheek “Ode to Cole Slaw.”

This was social customer care at its finest.

A brilliant blend of marketing and customer service response in a transparent world where every move a company makes and every customer compliment or complaint is posted, tweeted, retweeted, and blogged about round-the-clock, around the world.

The traditional roles and functions of customer service and marketing continue to blur with more and more customers taking to social media as a customer service channel.

This fact is not lost on companies, with over 68 percent acknowledging social as a necessary service channel (Five9 and ICMI).

Even more reassuring, 61 percent of companies that offer social care report higher customer satisfaction (Five9 and ICMI); and 71 percent of customers who experience positive social care are likely to recommend that brand to others (Aberdeen Group).

So we see it, we acknowledge it, now how do we act upon it?


Seek Out Social Signals.

Rather than running or hiding from it, companies should embrace social media for the rich insights and opportunities it can provide on a real time basis. Whether customers are using social channels to signal happiness, surprise, outrage or flat-out disgust with your company, product or service, you can use social media, in turn, to react instantly.

By responding to your customers via their channel of choice, you demonstrate your company’s transparency and keen listening skills.

Fostering active social listening and conversation is proving to be one of the best tools in the modern marketer’s hip pocket. Of course, there is always an element of risk with social media; after all, the public can be brutal. But avoiding it is a much riskier strategy.

Consider, for example, that 58 percent of consumers who have tweeted about a bad experience never received a response from the offending company (Business 2 Community). Most likely, they took their business elsewhere.

This lost customer loyalty and negative word of mouth is deeply damaging…and brings us to our next point.

Tap Into Peer Power.

Testimonials have been an effective sales tool since the dawn of marketing. People listen to others. But into today’s sophisticated environment, anonymous reviews and opinions are ineffective.

When it comes to social customer care, the power is in peer-to-peer networks.

You can find one for nearly every industry, market and product categories. These online influencers sway enormous amounts of spending and company growth, directly and indirectly.

Companies are tapping into peer power by motivating customers to review items and share their thoughts and opinions. Marketers are also leveraging advocates and influencer networks to help fortify and amplify their marketing messages through the people (customer)-powered lens of transparency and authenticity.

Have Fun With It / Own Up To It.

Consumers have taken to social media because it is an outlet not only for opinion, but also for humor, from the silly to the irreverent.

For marketers, using humor can be the pressure-release valve needed in a company misstep.

Chick-Fil-A, for example, clearly anticipated the kale backlash and had its “Ode to Cole Slaw” ready to release at just the right moment.

However, serious oversights require serious responses. When Amazon was called out for selling illegal copies of books on their site, Founder & CEO Jeff Bezos, released an apology that was instrumental in repairing the damage and generated good will.

Like humor, employing the power of an apology and taking full responsibility is a potent antidote to regaining your credibility and customer loyalty.

Developing an effective social customer care strategy can be a trial and error process. Watch, learn, and study the successes and missteps of others; then put your own system in place …maybe even with a side of kale.



Sandra Zoratti

Sandra Zoratti is an award-winning business leader/CMO, author, accomplished speaker and was honored with the Business Marketing Association’s 2012 Marketer of the year. She built and launched the data-driven marketing practice, "Precision Marketing" from the ground up and published her book on the topic in June 2012. Sandra has a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering and a Masters in Business Administration.

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