Tag Archives: social media

Why brand values, social media and customer experience must work as one to be fully optimised

Whenever I meet someone who inspires me, it’s not long before I ask them what good customer experience means to them. I was talking to Hazel, MD at the Creative Content Company and she was explaining how many businesses are choosing more to use social media as a way to engage with their customers on mass but their customers are using it as a faster way to speak to individuals in the business when they have queries or complaints. I thought this was an interesting misalignment and asked her for an example to explain what she meant.

Hazel told me how a large cinema chain used social media quite well but if they’d have used it appropriately in her case they could have done it so much better.


A few months ago, Hazel went to her local cinema to watch The Love Punch. She ordered a pot of popcorn (sweet and salted) and a Coke Zero with no ice. Hazel doesn’t like ice in her drinks as she has sensitive teeth she told me.

When Hazel went through and found her seat in the cinema she started to drink her coke and noticed it had ice in it. By this time she had taken off her coat and bag, squeezed past several people to get to her seat so didn’t fancy going back past them all to get her coke changed.

Picture3Like a lot of us, Hazel took to Twitter. She sent a tweet, tagging #CineworldHuntingdon and explaining she was really looking forward to watching The Love Punch but she was disappointed they put ice in her drink when she specifically said no ice, adding that the guy that served her was polite and friendly but clearly hadn’t listened.

How Cineworld dealt with it

cineworld tweet 2Within minutes Cineworld Huntingdon came back on Twitter – good news from a brand responsive perspective to minimise reputational damage. They apologised for this and said they would put ice down the guys back that served her as ‘pay back’ for not listening. This was a really quick, friendly response. It gave the twitter account a personality and a lot of people retweeted and replied to the tweet as it was funny, but what about Hazel and her coke with ice? There was still ice in the drink, her teeth would still feel pain after the smile from the Cineworld tweet had worn off.

How a customer-centric Cineworld might have dealt with it

Let’s be honest it could have been so much more effective. From Hazel’s tweet they could see what film she was watching, they knew there were about 50 people in there from the ticket sales and they knew she was on her own from her ticket sale. They could tell the film didn’t start for 15 minutes from their scheduling on their website and from her profile picture on twitter they even knew what she looked like. A member of staff could have walked in to the theatre with a coke without ice and started by saying, “Did someone order a coke without ice?”

If Hazel had already taken to Twitter to query the coke and ice incident you could have imagine what she would have done if they had bought a replacement coke into the cinema for her? Not to mention the 50 other people in the cinema. Perhaps even a selfie would have followed featuring Hazel, the coke and the forgetful Cineworld drinks dispenser.

Hazel expected a coke with no ice, as she requested but she did not get this so her expectations had not been met. Whilst the response on Twitter was friendly and engaging which is great and personable her query was never actually resolved.

As a platform social media is an effective listening tool, but unlike a call centre with a limited number of seats so you can manage down the number of calls answered, the pipe is wide and always on. If you engage you must resolve.

The importance of brand values in customer experience

But most importantly if the Cineworld team had focussed on ensuring their staff were trained in the importance of delivering a branded experience as well as they well versed in how to tweet, the outcome would have been much more focused on ensuring their customer’s entertainment needs (in this case a coke without ice as much as the movie viewing) were fulfilled. Light-hearted banter is easy. Delivering it whilst reaffirming the strengths of the brand much less so. Brand is not an optional extra in customer experience.

The reason brands like Disney remain head and shoulders above all others in the entertainment world experience is because their people are empowered to focus on their purpose before their tasks.

sensitive teethIt’s a challenge. And it’s a cultural thing. Giving the social media team responsibility to resolve, or align messaging to a branded customer charter will take the brand from socially amusing to simply amazing.

Those who choose to respond to social media posts about their brands with jest without tackling the nature of the initial customer engagement have to accept they leave a lingering bad brand taste in the mouth of those whose issues remain unresolved. A lingering bad taste which is not associated with the channel (which often has flippant and frivolous content), but with the brands themselves. In this case an association between Cineworld and the pain of of very sensitive teeth. Not very funny now.

For an example of how to take a query and turn it into positive PR, with full customer resolution click on our Unordinary blog featuring  ‘we buy any car’.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Customer Experience Strategy & Director at Lexden

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Consultancy | Putting your customers at the heart of the decision.
We work with brands to attract and retain happy customers | We achieve this by helping them to understand what makes their customers tick, building memorable customer experience strategies and creating engaging customer value propositions.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to our monthly ‘Putting Customers First’ newsletter. Or for a discussion on how we may be able to help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44 7968 316548. You can also follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter.

A fishy customer engagement with Sainsbury’s social media marketers

Here’s a great example of how to create positive and fun engagement with your customer when you get a ‘bite’ that they are happy to carp about. As well as a great way to boost @TeaAndCopy twitter following…

sainsburys blog

Posted by Christopher Brooks

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency | We put customers at the start and the heart of marketing strategy

We work with brands to attract and retain happy customers | We achieve this by helping them to understand what makes their customers tick, building memorable customer experience strategies and creating engaging customer value propositions.

If you like what you’ve read sign-up to our free monthly ‘Putting Customers First’ newsletter. Or for a discussion on how we may be able to help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44 (0) 7968 316548. You can also follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter @consultingchris

Have customers finally found their voice?

According to a customer channel report from Fisher Hedges, when it comes to customers having a voice, over 2/3rds believe social media is a channel which allows them to really get their voice heard, ahead of the call centre.

The report also highlights that consumers, of all ages, are turning to this channel to report gripes and steep praise. Having read the report on Friday, I considered where I might find examples to back this up. I only needed to wait until I had a conversation with my stepfather on Sunday. He gifted me two ideal examples, illustrating the point that social media is a more powerful channel than others when it comes to getting a business to take action on behalf of the consumer.

Tesco – Socially Responsive

My stepfather replayed to me how Tesco responded brilliantly to his recent concern that there is collusion in petrol pricing from town to town. He’d noticed that the petrol where he lives is 5p more expensive than that in the next town.


He picked on Tesco, because he found their two stations and could compare the prices. He sent a message socially on the subject to Tesco. Within 15 minutes this resulted in a phone call from Tesco (on a Saturday night) about the issue. The Tesco rep explained the reason was driven by competition at a local level. Unhappy with the response he requested a more senior investigation. By Tuesday he’d received a letter with more a detailed explanation of the point from a senior rep. During our conversation his focus shifted from the petrol issue to how amazed he was at the speed and the personalisation of the response after his social bark. Tesco definitely went up in his estimation. And although he didn’t mention it to me, they’d managed to make his public display private.

As an aside, I found a website called http://www.petrolprices.com/ where you can make you own comparisons. I found the variance between petrol prices in our town and the next, four miles away, is actually 7p on petrol and 5p on diesel. It pays to drive around!

Everyone Active (except the customer experience team)

My stepfather also mentioned an on-going issue he is having with Everyone Active (the gym company who manage local government facilities). They seem to let their customers down at every conceivable point. From broken disabled shower facilities, to taking money from customers for a public swim when the pool is booked for a private session, the list goes on…

He attends two or three times a week, so a social media rant would seem unnecessary when he can speak to them face-to-face. As a voice of one, with no one listening in, he tells them of the problems each time he uses the facilities. But the conversation is always the same…

  • He lists the problems still outstanding.
  • Their initial response is: ‘we know’.
  • When challenged as to what they will do about it, the response is: ‘the person who does that is back tomorrow. We will tell them’.
  • When challenged with the comment that it needs immediate attention, the more senior response is: ‘we know that needs fixing. Rest assured we will get on to it very soon’.

But like a scene from Groundhog Day, the problem is there when he returns each time and so the conversation begins again.

It shows the power of customer voice where people are listening versus an intimate conversation. Even though from the brand’s perspective, the intimate conversation is more considerate to them. BT Care get this…


BT – Social Care 

I’m a big fan of straight talking Warren Buckley of BT Care. I’ve seen him speak using a live twitter feed playing behind him. Brave – he informs the audience what’s happening and why on screen, while explaining that social media is the customer service tool at BT Care. He understands why social media has become more important, as he states: “One person with no ‘followers’ can very quickly become 10,000 people”.

All of which gives credibility to the change I believe will come as analysts find their feet with ‘big data’ – a shift from valuing customers based on their commercial contribution to their ‘Brand Impact’ (BI = combination of social media reach, impact of message, advocacy and contribution).

Klout already allows individuals to see the value of their ‘social voice’ online. Whilst I mighkloutt argue that the algorithms are not yet sophisticated enough, I can’t deny the concept is a strong and interesting one.

Appending BI scores to customer segments would change the way brands engage with customers altogether. It’s still an unordinary thought, but one I see getting more airtime as social media becomes more mainstream. If brands move to appending BI scores, social media will be encouraged as a primary means by which customers can interact with them. In turn that will evolve our definition of what social media is. And so on.

What I have learnt

The key take out for me is that the complainant has found a way to jump the queue as social media, as a means to gripe, grows in popularity. So brands and businesses must learn how to manage the impact and coordinate responses across their channels. For further clues on how to do this see Warren Buckley speak, follow @BTCare, or have a chat with my stepfather when he’s not having his say socially.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Director, Lexden

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency. We put customers at the start and the heart of the business strategy.

We work with brands to attract and retain happy customers. We achieve this by helping them to understand what makes their customers tick, building memorable customer experience strategies and creating engaging customer value propositions.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to our monthly ‘Putting Customers First’ newsletter.

For a discussion on how we may be able to help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44 (0) 7968 316548. You can also follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter @consultingchris 

Unordinary Thinking No. 9 – Virtual Real Estate

With some ideas, the more you think about it the less sense it makes. This is true of virtual real estate. And yet an industry has risen from it. Albeit built on virtual sand.

Virtual real estate agents can make up to $150,000 a year in Second Life.

They buy nothing real and selling nothing real.

After all when you are in a virtual world, you are still in the real world. And yet land with planning permission is bought from virtual land owners, virtual property developers build the property with virtual materials and a virtual estate agents rent it to an avatar who is a version of something that doesn’t really exist; an alter ego.

And considering these business’ reputations in the real world, have been built based on the quality of their workmanship, customer service and interpersonal skills – how do they transfer these tangibles to an intangible virtual world? Because they do.

It’s made even more puzzling if you consider how a brand or marketing director would plot this activity on a classic business ‘growth’ matrix. It doesn’t fit the model, it’s beyond diversification. That’s not to say virtual commerce doesn’t fit, but just it needs a little extra thought to figure out how. It’s undoubtedly an unordinary growth strategy. And one that pay dividends without leaving the desktop.


Posted by Christopher Brooks

Lexden is a marketing strategy agency which creates unordinary propositions to motivate customers and deliver commercial advantage for brands.

For more information on how we can help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or ajairanawat@lexdengroup.com, or call us on T: +44 (0)20 7490 9123. And you can follow us on Twitter @consultingchris.

Best of ‘A Marketers Diary’ (October 2011)

Each day we are bombarded by thousands of advertising messages. However, how many of them do we actually consume? We decided to collect just one example of an ad every day and explain why this communication caught our attention. And each month we showcase our favourite pieces; most engaging communication, most compelling idea and best media placement.

Here are October’s offerings for your consideration.


Tuesday 11th October 2011 – Canada press ad

I liked this press ad because it’s trying to be an online ad in print. A potentially smart approach given the likely affluent older demographic audience. All the digital trimmings are in place on the ad and it made me think immediately to check them out online through my social media connections rather than their website. It came across as a brand that knows its digital and how to use it.


14th October 2011 – Green & Blacks double page press ad

I’ve pieced this together because it spread across two sides of the Evening Standard. Friday night, heading home straight after work and as a father of two Friday night means home, cosy on the sofa with popcorn viewing and TV treats. To be reminded of the G&B range like this was brilliant – I used it like a menu. To get comms to work like this, beyond an ad, is rare and memorable. It hits the spot.


Monday 31st October 2011 – Royal British Legion bikes

Is this great or graffiti? Do Barclays know their bikes have been hijacked by the RBL, of course they do. And by using a space not normally advertised on they’ve created brand comms arguably as memorable as a press ad or poster (of course integrated with them and it’s more powerful). The marketer in me says well done RBL for taking over an untapped space. But to be honest it has got me thinking more about whether this is smart from Barclays’ perspective or will it lead to Barclays Bike scheme now being targeted by guerrilla advertising too by second string advertisers copying the initiative without Barclays’ say so? As I was taking this pic a second bike pulled up and the chap said to me, ‘good isn’t it. I don’t need to buy a poppy with one of these on the bike’. I read that Barclays are contributing £1 for every ride this week. Even so I hope that rider’s view is not a popular one. Nice work Barclays and RBL.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Director Lexden.

Lexden is a marketing strategy agency which creates unordinary propositions which motivate customers and deliver commercial advantage for brands. To discuss how our approach can help you with your burning platforms, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or ajairanawat@lexdengroup.com, or call us on T: +44 (0)20 7490 9123, M: +44 (0)7968 316548. And you can follow us on Twitter @consultingchris.