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Brand Endearment: Return The High-Five

I live on the road, in hotels and airports.  While some people keep suitcases at the back of their closets, I live out of mine.

So when I read about the Genius Pack on USAToday.com I was excited to try it out!  I trusted the site, and the suitcase was exactly what I’d been looking for.  I ordered one that day.

The case arrived quickly and had all the compartments and fancy add-ons I had hoped for (better pockets, phone charger built in, dirty laundry compartment).  I was a happy customer and decided to tweet about it.

A bunch of my followers jumped in and replied, some of who were also looking for suitcases. Travel, and anything to make it more comfortable, is a popular topic on Twitter, and the tweet lead to a great conversation.

You know who didn’t join in though? Genius Pack.  The company remained quiet.

When would-be or happy current customers mention your product or service, they are putting up their hands for a high five.  It’s not to say when we compliment a brand we have to get a reply, but when we make an effort to include the Twitter name, it shows we are including you in the conversation. (I still remember my first reply from the brand, Cirque du Soleil. Love them.) This is an opportunity for engagement that is all too often ignored.  As businesses we are quick to reply to angry customers, but often leave happy ones hanging.

Genius Pack wasn’t listening.  Or, if they were, they weren’t interested in talking with me, or the other would-be customers putting up their hands.

At the time, I didn’t think too much about them  not replying.  I gave them an opportunity, and shared my excitement about their product, but I wasn’t sitting around waiting for a response.  I took my new suitcase-of-awesomeness, packed it up for the trip and away we went.

However, by the time I’d reached security at my first airport, I was already frustrated with my new suitcase.

It tipped over.  Many times.

It tipped over in line.  It tipped over when I let go of it for a moment to take off my jacket.  By the time I had finished my trip, the front pocket zipper had broken (It wasn’t over-packed by far). I couldn’t wait to throw the thing out and use my old suitcase again. The case had been expensive and instead of making my travel more comfortable, it was more difficult.

Because I hadn’t built a connection to the company, I had no problem voicing my issue publicly.

People replied that they were also looking at this particular suitcase and were glad I saved them the hassle after seeing my original tweet.

When we are endeared to a brand we seek out private and personal channels to manage resolution.  With a brand I know, like and trust, I will email or contact them privately first, rather than publicly, when I’m unhappy.  Since @GeniusPack hasn’t followed me, I couldn’t send them a private message even if I wanted to.

Unlike the non-reaction to my first tweet, Genius Pack did reply to my second very quickly.

We went on to email and their CEO was apologetic and very efficient at processing the refund for my purchase – but not before the issue was shared publicly online. I was very impressed with how great they were after the problem, which confused me as to why they had no response before the problem. There weren’t hundreds of mentions of the product, actually none other than mine that day.

If you only pay attention to your customers when they are angry, you are only going to have angry customers publicly.  You will miss the chance to engage with the happy ones and create brand evangelists.

Here are the four steps to create Brand Endearment.

Listen.  You need to be paying attention to what people are saying about your brand and industry online.  There are some great tools out there to help you keep up.  It can be as simple as setting up a Google Alert or using keyword search on Twitter.  Use a listening tool such as Expion, Radian6, Vocus or Trackur. Paying attention is the first step.

Own the good you do. Value the positive voice.  It’s too easy only to focus on the negative.  You need to make time to thank customers who love what you do.  Be proud and say thank you. (and by “thank-you I don’t mean only RT’ing positive compliments about yourself. Avoid the humble brag). I try to do this with people who tweet compliments about my books.

Don’t leave all those high-fives hanging.  Take time away from fighting fires, and seeking out new customers, to thank the ones you have. This is the where the opportunity for brand endearment begins.  Don’t value your customers based only on purchases already made.  A happy customer is your best marketer.  Grow those relationships.

Engage.  Social media is just a fancy term for talking to other people.  When you listen and value your customers you can create content and products that give value back to them.  Be a part of the conversation; find out what they like to chat about. Care about what they are looking for.  And then be there, to have a conversation that matters to them.

When you do these three things, your customers will become endeared to you.

As customers we feel like we know an engaged brand, because we do.  Brands who connect with their customers online earn a face, a personality, and a reputation for listening.

  • LOVE your point about if you only engage customers when they are complaining, then they will be the only customers you hear from. So many brands don’t understand this point, and don’t see the value in engaging fans, with the thinking being that if a customer is praising them, then leave them alone. Engaging happy customers only breeds more happy customers.

    Reward the type of behavior you want to encourage. Saying ‘thank you!’ goes a LONG way in social media, as it does in life.

  • Even from a simple PR stand, only responding to negative feedback is poor form for the comany and its employees / shareholders. No one wants to see nothing but self promotion followed by apologies and complaints.

    You’re bang on Scott…the companies need to return the high five. Even if they are worried about looking to ‘love the pat on the back’s promotions’, its better to be seen as arrogant than incompetent.

    Great post!

  • cutemonster

    You don’t post often Scott, but when you do, you never fail to pass on some wisdom. Thanks. Great post.

    • you’ve inspired this…

      • cutemonster

        The legend continues…

  • rainerlonau

    Does Google Alerts work for you?
    I read others had problems too (http://searchengineland.com/google-alerts-arent-working-148642). And then it should be working again (http://searchengineland.com/google-alerts-is-working-again-154536), but doesn’t seem to work for my alerts.
    For Twitter I’ve set up some keyword search in Hootsuite. That’s retty handy.

  • Stacey Keating

    Really enjoy your wisdom and point of view in the social media world and beyond. As a ‘small fish swimming with sharks in the pond’ I try to gain knowledge of this every-so-head-spinning -media world daily…you help keep me grounded and not lose the importance of connecting with people beyond the click of a mouse!

  • I really appreciate this blog today. Thank you.

  • Hi Scott! Thanks for that post! Unfortunately, many brands do only react on complaints or negative feedback. If customers are delighted they´ll be the most effective brand-pusher ever. And if a brand is really social-media-related they react on every feedback.

  • Still waiting to see them post in here with a comment. Take every opportunity to create a brand conversation and use the information (good or bad) to improve. Sharing those stories publicly is worth its weight in gold.

  • You’re totally speaking my language here! The brands that decide to connect with us on a deeper level are the ones that will succeed over the coming years in the market.

    The ones that don’t are going to feel major repercussions as time goes on regardless of how awesome their product is. There’s not doubt about it, we want to connect with brands, not just hang out waiting for that high five. (great analogy by the way!)

  • You never write until you do. Good point about listening.

  • Rebecca Gilmore

    I agree with cutemonster – excellent post! Some brands are excellent with engagement, and it makes me confident and proud to sing their praises. Chipotle and ThinkGeek are two that come to mind. I’m sorry your suitcase was such a bust, but we as your readers are richer for your experience.

  • I look forward to your posts… they make me smile and a little smarter! thanks

  • JohnKamal

    You only blog every now and then but when you do, you have something worth reading to share. Thanks.

  • As always, a great post Scott. It really does not surprise me. I too live out of my suitcase when traveling. Here are some awesome packs that fits into a roll-aboard. Eagle Creek has updated the design from what I have been using for years. http://shop.eaglecreek.com/packit-folder-18/d/1091_c_211

  • I had a similar experience (at least the first half) with Tim Horton’s a few weeks ago.

    My mom and I were in an accident at an intersection in Guelph. No one was hurt but our little black Camry.

    While we were waiting for the police to arrive, a young man arrived from the Tim Horton’s on the corner with about 7 coffees for everyone there, and just handed them to us.

    I didn’t get a chance to thank him, but I wanted to acknowledge the unexpected kindness so I took to twitter.

    Silence.

    It was sad because I’ve never heard of anyone doing that and wanted to share it.

  • So what suitcase are you travelling with nowadays?

    • I’m not Scott, so I hope I’m not out of line but I’d like to rave about my Zuca bag. I’ve had it for probably 8 years now and I LOVE it! Lightweight, slim so it rolls down the plane aisle easily & fits in the carry-on bins above the seats!

    • Travel pro model.

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  • This has bugged me, too. It’s happened on multiple occasions and I’ve always wondered how “big” a deal you need to be on Twitter before a brand will recognize any comment.

    On the other hand, have you noticed brands emphasizing their positive tweets & social media comments? Companies like Yoplait and Wheat Thins have mentioned Twitter users and tweets in their ads; if the Wheat Thins ads are true, then they show up at some users’ doors with a bunch of product just for a positive tweet. HGTV posts user comments in their ads, too.

    I remember the times I’ve heard back personally from people like Guy Kawasaki; always a thrill.

  • Leah Hall

    Awesome insight into the idea of creating brand excitement. How true it is that companies will spend extra effort putting out fires but not into high fiving their clients. C’mon man, don’t leave me hangin! Great article!

  • Awesome, Awesome…well said!

  • Yet another reminder why scheduled tweets is not an effective ‘social media strategy’. Actually being there is the only way to engage!

  • Interesting post — would love your advice on a related subject if you’re so inclined. I purchased a living room set from a furniture manufacturer who is very well know in my region of the US. We picked out matching leather couches then a fabric, patterned chair which would complement the new couches, the fireplace and the colors in the adjoining room. Love the couches, they’ve been great. But I’m now up to the 4th chair — each chair has had a similar problem and so we keep playing trade for another chair, each time, hoping the next chair will be in “new” condition. I didn’t tweet to the company negatively or positively but I did check for other comments and don’t see anything negative. I actually wondered to my self, I wonder what Scott Stratten would do… so seeing your post today, thought I’d ask… “What would you have done, Mr. Stratten?”

  • Your Tweet was about the fact that you just received their product…But you had not used it yet…Which means that your opinion could go ether way once you tried the product…Which is what happened…I am guessing they know the bag is tippy…They must know…Which is why they are quiet…Which is why they were quick to apologize…Like when you make a big meal, then finally taste it yourself & discover the meat was a bit off to begin with-sometimes you serve it with your fingers crossed-like maybe nobody else will notice…Their initial silence indicates to me they knew their meat was a bit off…But they spent so much time cooking it they thought maybe they could get away with it…Not in a bad way, just in a kinda hoping way…

  • Great post Scott – it’s funny how businesses haven’t quite got the hang of social media yet. When I was a little girl, I remember my sister (age 8) wrote (full on, pen to paper, snail mail style) to a pen company to tell them how much she liked their glitter pens. To her absolute delight, she got a full set of their pens in the post a few weeks later. I will never forget that look of shock and amazement on her face. The same thing happened with a pack of Princess Marshmallows, and I’m sure these instances can’t have just been isolated to my blood relatives.

    I find it so bizarre that in a world where saying thank you is easier than ever (all it takes is 140 characters, and it’s free!), businesses seem to do far less now to say thank you, than they did 20 years ago.

    It only takes a few moments to reach out and make someone feel special. And 20 years on I can still remember how happy it made my 8 year old sister.

  • retepslluerb

    “We went on to email and their CEO was apologetic and very efficient at processing the refund for my purchase – but not before the issue was shared publicly online.”

    This reads as if the complaint has been raised by Scott and been ignored by the company until Scott when public.

    The complete text indicates otherwise.

  • Most excellent post Scott. I too am a big believer in tooting the celebration horn when I have a great experience with a brand, and I too am baffled when I mention it and there is no response. Again, not that my ego is desperate for a shoutout from a brand, but one would think that a social media brand manager would JUMP on positive blurbs as opportunities to engage, to acknowledge and yes even to RT and toot their own horn. But often it is indeed crickets. Unfortunate, for sure.

  • Great article, thank you!

  • David

    Brilliant as usual my friend…

  • Nice post. Sad too that when they replied it was in their “business voice” canned contact us message. I find adding a little personality helps too and can often humanise the conversation, which also helps to bring any outward anger down a notch or two 🙂

  • I agree. Tons of brands have ignored my praise online. The one that doesn’t is @ZipzShoes. They’re pretty awesome.

  • Diane DiResta

    Excellent points and a good reminder to say thank you.

  • Can I ask? Aren’t we all high five-ing you here and most of us are left hanging?

    • Yup! 100% I just have a huge aversion to “comment inflation” by replying to every one of them. I’m an enigma 🙂

  • Enjoyed that – thank you 🙂

    It is so important to thank/engage with people, especially as they have taken the time to be positive – for us it is about engagement, not fire-fighting!

    This is something I do myself and make sure that my team realise how important it is to do too. Guess what I’ll be sharing with them in our catch-up later this morning?!

    Have a good day!

  • This is great Scott! I totally agree, when a customer just mentions you, joining the conversation takes finesse or can look creepy. However, when a customer @s you, they want you to recognize your “atta boy” tweet.

    • Almost forgot. Thanks for the Trackur shoutout. Now I feel bad for my scheduled tweet vine video. 😉

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  • Great advice Scott. Especially in “own the good you do.”

    Regardless of what my title is and what company I may own or work with, I have and will remain a consumer first. I have had years of brand loyalty get flushed down the tubes because of poor online behavior or simple indifference to my unpaid/unsolicited positive support.

    I wanted to share an example of frustration I had when I was trying to encourage a brand to develop a reputation of listening : a marketing exec of a former client once said, “Why would I care what they say online, we already have their money.” This was after it was recommended that their social media team teach tour guides how to encourage visitors to find and follow them online.

    Sadly it seems that some of the high fives that are left hanging turn into face palms because the people in charge of the brand are only doing “this social media thing” because they have to.

    Those types of attitudes have a death grip on any brand reputation.

    Thanks again for the post. 🙂

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  • Odd indeed. It’s human nature to interact with happy people and avoid those with problems. Maybe their SM person views their operation as the “complaint department.” No complaint, no action needed.

  • Tech News

    Strong point and easy for understanding. Thanks ’cause your great ideas..

  • shanny

    Now you know why they didn’t respond to your *first* tweet (they were waiting for the other shoe to drop)

  • Clive Hitchcock

    yes great information! i also believe a happy customer is beneficial to any type of business. thanks.

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  • This is the first article I’ve read of yours and I’m hooked! I personally needed this message for my own customer service and I’m now aware more than ever how social networking is a give and take relationship. Thank you!

  • ethan jose
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  • Often the best reward is a thank you.

  • Joy Lynskey

    I always high-five and return social media favors. I thought that was considered the proper thing to do.