This week while at a big box retailer I overhear a store manager telling her assistant manager to “not call backup unless it was absolutely overwhelmed and necessary”, talk about a way to approach customer experience. For the manager this is the everyday challenge: use as few people as possible to cover a myriad of activities all while the lights are on and customers are walking in. At the same time hundreds of miles away at corporate, that same retailer has a growing team dedicated to bringing the brand’s positive value to light through social channels – two track that simply don’t line up.
The approach, and the comment aren’t unique this one retailer or retail at all but rather it’s just one example of the growing gap that exists between how companies operate at the point of interaction and the growing focus on customer experience in corporate.
As this discussion was taking place I could see the lines growing… and yet employees were visibly scampering around to other parts of the store, backrooms, and out the frontdoor for their current task. Some consumers waited and filed the experience away into their own head while others likely chatted about the long waits to whoever they were with on the spot or when they got home and then of course there are the few people who pulled out their smartphone and shared it with the world right then and there. But no matter how they acted, no matter what the, tickets / cashier or any other store KPI may have been, the perception of the store was impacted.
Just about every company has or is in the process of creating a team tasked with building reputation and yet these teams are often kept away from the process where impressions are actually made, left trying to leverage the good outcomes and mitigate the bad ones. For stores, call centers, even web teams, the focus is often on the same metrics they’ve known for years: items per basket, cashier efficiency, upsell dollars – drive the bottom line. It’s not the two sides are at odds with each other, it’s simply how they look at the world – social attacks experience to drive results while stores look at results to determine what to do in experience.
When the idea of social business first started to catch, we could only see as far as our team – how do we in corporate marketing get more people talking, how do we drive more reviews – agencies did this, brands did this, I did this, well did this – it was, at the time, the right way to go. But now we know better, we know that while we may say “social”, we don’t mean what happens at Facebook or Twitter, we mean what happens at the store, with the returns call center, during the tradeshow that creates the experience which will make it to Facebook.
So when we talk about bringing “social” to the entire company it doesn’t just [just] mean get everyone on Twitter to respond to questions, it’s about changing the culture, the metrics, the very way we do business. We have to think about what’s going to make our reputation against what we want out of our business – is our price point low enough to really be able to get away with long lines? Is our service really what we think it is?
Social should start in corporate, it should be managed by a team, defined and run as a part of everyday operations but that’s not where it ends.
Customers form their opinions at every interaction point and the impact of each positive or negative is huge – even if it’s never put out with a public comment that the corporate team can see. This requires a complete shift; we can’t assign reputation to a small team and leave those on the floor who actually make it ignorant of the realities of the market. To improve reviews, shares, likes – social, we have to improve the experience first.