Our clients often ask us for examples of brands that are nailing social customer service, and whilst there are the well-documented examples of Best Buy, Zappos and Dell out there, the brand we think is a real unsung hero in this space, and one we continue to shout about, is Sainsbury’s (disclaimer: they’re of our moderation clients).
A couple of weeks ago, prolific tweeter @OctoberJones (worth a follow for the giggle-inducing ‘texts from dog’) tweeted about the interesting texture of Sainsbury’s chicken sandwich.
What followed next was an unexpectedly funny response from the @SainsburysPR account:
Sent within minutes, we’re willing to bet our shiny new coffee machine that this exchange made anyone checking their twitter snort out loud with laughter.
@OctoberJones then re-tweeted the response, followed by an article on our changing complaining style by The Guardian; all in all a nice bit of unplanned twitter love and goodwill online for Sainsbury’s.
Sainsbury’s main account then sent a follow-up tweet to @OctoberJones continuing the jokey banter but also providing the Sainsbury’s Careline number, backing up the idea that they actually take any complaint or negative comment seriously.
Simon Preece, Social Marketing Manager for Sainsbury’s told us, “Our customer service team respond in a genuine human way. We really try to avoid corporate-speak.”
Sainsbury’s have form; remember the ‘Tiger Bread’ story last year? Sainsbury’s renamed the loaf in response to a 3 year-old customer’s suggestion:
The really sweet Sainsbury’s reply went viral after Lily’s mum published it on her blog, with Sainsbury’s subsequently taking the suggestion on board, rebranding the loaf, ‘Giraffe Bread’.
Showing there are real people behind brands’ social media and customer care presences like this is so important – people don’t want to hear scripts and standard responses – they want a real, genuine response from a real person. It’s easy to forget that ultimately social media is about people.
Alex Cole commented recently in CorpComms Magazine:
‘Our team has an embedded approach to digital media. Everyone is encouraged to be involved somehow and we use a fast and friendly tone, which fits in with the culture of banter that we have in the office.’
As a business Sainsbury’s are used to in-store, in-person, customer service, and they seem to be aiming to replicate that experience online. So as well as the fun, PR-able examples above, Sainsbury’s day-to-day social customer service is focused and effective. On Facebook and Twitter customer service staff respond swiftly, reply by signing off with their own names, and attempt to resolve the issue for the customer then and there.
Tempero’s Top 5 Tips for Social Customer Service:
1. Build a social customer service team trained in social media; importantly a team you can trust
2. Have tone of voice guidelines but remember you’re talking to human beings, so be human. Guidelines are just that; guidelines.
3. Respond as quickly as possible.
4. Don’t direct people to another channel – try to resolve their problem, then and there.
5. Follow up on queries you’ve already replied to – one reply might not be enough – don’t leave conversations hanging.