This post is a confluence of recent thoughts and experiences, as such, I hope it makes sense! This week we swapped a phone over from AT&T to Republic Wireless. In doing so the number ported over before we migrated the contacts. As such we received a text (SMS) message asking my wife “how was your first week back at work!” from a ‘random number’.
I can never remember phone numbers these days, it struck me that it seems unusual to answer a simple question differently based upon who is asking it. If it is someone we don’t really know or like it would be answered simply, or coldly, or perhaps ignored. If it was a casual but liked acquaintance then perhaps a bit more warmly, and if it was a true friend perhaps more honestly! In short, the same event occurs, but the response is different based on how we view the person, in other words, are they a VIP to us?
Next up, over in The Forum we are discussing whether a customer should receive compensation for a stolen bag. Dealing directly with the hotel is proving tedious, and the discussion is lending itself towards ‘take it to Twitter!’
Should everyone get the same answer?
There is a valid line of thought to say that ‘VIPs’ shouldn’t be treated any better than any other customer, but the sad truth is that they are, and if you aren’t a VIP then you are not getting the same level of service. Some of you might be OK with that, for those who aren’t let me suggest how to make yourself more important to a brand. The perks are great, ranging from room upgrades, treats and gifts from management, early check ins, more flexible cancellations.
Thought leadership and influence
The reason that VIPs matter to a brand is that their influence is greater. If Hyatt annoys Tom Cruise he can blast the airways with his complaints, he could drop a comment while being interviewed on Oprah, or while being towed away from another Scientology gathering for excessive hopping up and down like a demented bunny. Heck, he could send a tweet out on Twitter and 4.7M followers would see it….
Confluence of Marketing and Customer Service
Brands sell on Customer Service. Especially those in the luxury goods and service space. It is hard to justify a higher price tag on product alone, so they are keen to push on overall experience and satisfaction. However, that is the marketing guys hard at work, and countering them are the Revenue teams whose job it is to negate or restrict the actual service aspect via terms and conditions. These terms and conditions constrict the overall customer base and align with profitability. However, if a VIP or influencer is involved, marketing can kick in to drive Customer Service into a positive outcome for the customer. I get it, you aren’t Tom Cruise (one’s enough) but you can make yourself more relevant to marketing, that will push Customer Service into bending the Legal teams restrictions. And you can do it using social media.
Twitter is your best route for VIP Customer Service
The reason that it works so well is that people can see customer in action. This makes each customer service transaction a marketing experience. If they treat you poorly people get to see that, if they go above and beyond, then people see that too. There are many times when traditional telephone customer service does great things for the customer, but twitter allows a company to showcase this by doing it all in public. The result… a much more agreeable experience for the customer. When you are working with Twitter channels you will need to consider a few things:
- Make sure you are working with official channels representing the brand.
- Don’t be rude, you are dealing with real people, who are empowered to help you – keep it civil!
- Don’t post record locators/booking numbers publicly. Ask for help and to ‘DM’ a DM is a private message, in order to start such a private message conversation both parties must be following one another. Engage this before getting into details.
How to maximize your Twitter VIP impact
While I think you get better treatment on Twitter than using traditional methods, not all Twitter accounts are created equally. There are many people who don’t ‘get’ twitter and therefore they appear less important than others. Take it seriously and professionally. Think about it the way you would an email address that you use for job applications:
- Use a sensible twitter handle, you can use your name, or something abbreviated like Matt_H don’t use childish names.
- Add a photo to your profile. A real one of you is best, but if you aren’t comfortable with that a good looking scenic shot can work too. Charactertures work well, but ripping off cartoon faces don’t.
- Fill out your profile fully, and add a background.
Build a following
I’d argue that a professional looking twitter profile, along with a strong follower number would be the best combination for VIP treatment. Followers can take some time to build up, and may be beyond the scope of what you want to invest for this ‘status’. If you want to grow followers ethically I would recommend this article there are other ways to quickly acquire new followers by buying lists from companies like Devumi… these firms aren’t encouraged by Twitter, and some, may put your account at risk. However, you could add 1000 followers in just a few days, couple this with a strong looking profile, and you would be a formidable force when you take your problem to the Twitter platform for support. Remember, Twitter makes every customer service experience a marketing opportunity, use that knowledge to your advantage.
New to twitter? I hope this gets you started. Whether you have a new account, or are dusting off an old one, get out there and freshen it up. Lose the ‘egg’ and fill out some details about yourself. Need a follower? Follow my profile here, and send me a tweet, I’ll follow you back and get you going! Once you get going, the best compliment you can give someone with Twitter is a retweet – so don’t be shy with those either, and people will start following you quickly.