Tag Archives: customer engagement

While Wendy’s might normally be known for their famous sides – fries, chilli, baked potato, salad and the original frosty – their side of sassy social media responses brought them into 2017 as one of the hottest brands on Twitter. Earlier in the year, the fast food chain responded to media requests affirming that their social media accounts had not, in fact, been hacked. This after a series of responses coming from the official Wendy’s Twitter account to followers who engaged with the company on social media.

It’s a warm and bright Sunday afternoon. You find yourself carelessly strolling through the cobblestone streets of a quaint village tucked into the Tuscan countryside. As you pass by the open doors of the street-level apartments, an inviting aroma of fresh-made pasta, tomato sauce and hearty Parmesan cheese wafts through the air. You peer into one apartment and notice a man adding a sprig of basil on a heaping plate of pasta he’s serving to his family. He’s smiling … and he’s waving you in! You’re in Italy. These seem like nice people. You don’t want to be rude. You go in, sit down and have possibly the best plate of pasta of your life. Food fantasy aside, that’s exactly the experience Barilla Canada is hoping to emulate – whether you’re dreaming about Tuscany or just trying to feed a hungry family on a Sunday afternoon – through its new social media efforts to engage customers in a memorable and lasting way.

Showing off your bare feet might not be the most glamorous trend on Instagram, but you might be able to argue it’s the most impactful. (Couch, 2017) One company that is performing digital engagement exceptionally well is TOMS. TOMS is based in Playa Del Rey, California. The company was founded in 2006 by Blake Mycoskie, an entrepreneur from Arlington, Texas. The company designs and sells shoes based on the Argentine alpargata design they also manufacture eyewear, coffee, apparel, and handbags. TOMS thrives on the philosophy that if they sell a pair of shoes, a new pair of shoes is given to an impoverished child. As well, when TOMS sells eyewear, part of the profit is used to save or restore eyesight for people in developing countries. The company launched TOMS Roasting Co. in 2014, and with each purchase of TOMS Roasting Co. coffee, the company works with other organizations that they refer to as “giving partners” to provide 140 liters of safe water, equal to a one week supply, to a person in need. In addition in 2015, TOMS Bag Collection was launched to help contribute to advancements in maternal health. Purchases of TOMS Bags help provide training for skilled birth attendants and distribute birth kits containing items that help women practice safe childbirth. (Wikipedia, 2017)

As more and more people tune out from traditional advertising, businesses find themselves striving to reach customers in new ways. A logical place to start is on social media, where many of us spend a significant part of our day. Enter content marketing:  a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.  Stantec, an international professional services company in the design and consulting industry, is one example of a company that’s using content marketing, in the form of blogs, to reach its target markets effectively.  The company has a well-developed editorial process that leverages employee experience for its blogs. Together, technical experts and marketing professionals create and disseminate powerful (and useful) stories that attract potential clients and win new business.

Ontario Soccer is one of the oldest sports organizations in Canada founded in 1901 with over 500,000 registered participants. Ontario Soccer provides leadership, advancement and development opportunities for players, coaches, and other stakeholders. Ontario Soccer is a member of Canada Soccer and is a member of FIFA the world governing body of soccer. Ontario Soccer has 21 district offices and several associate members within regional and provincial leagues. The Ontario Soccer headquarters is located in Vaughan Ontario, with indoor and outdoor soccer facilities. From my experience many years ago customer engagement with soccer associations including Ontario Soccer was done mainly through face to face encounters, with prospect members/customers this included players, coaches, match officials, and soccer clubs. Customer Engagement was done primarily through meetings, distribution of flyers, and events such as soccer tournaments. Presently customer engagement has changed drastically with the use of Social Media channels such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Additionally the Manager of Communications at Ontario Soccer reported they also use Tweetdeck, Hootsuite and Meltwater.

What is Customer Engagement? Clarabridge defines customer engagement as “the emotional connection between a customer and a brand. Highly engaged customers buy more, promote more, and demonstrate more loyalty. Providing a high-quality customer experience is an important component in your customer engagement strategy.” Customer engagement is continuously evolving. Once upon a time, building relationships with customers happened in person and through simple word of mouth. The following video from eLoyalty demonstrates the history of customer engagement and how it has changed.

Beep. Ding. Swoosh. Those are the sounds that fill our office spaces, coffee shops…or any place that has people for that matter. There is no denying we live in a world where most of us have our eyes buried in our phones, are constantly on the go and can admit that taking our phone to the bathroom has become normal practice – we don’t want to miss a thing! Because of this need to always be connected and have information right at our fingertips, customers have, now more than ever, a stronger, louder voice – and depending on who they are – a big influence. In an effort to keep customers happy or informed, quick response rates have skyrocketed and started to become a vital practice in social media management and an integral part of an overall social media customer service strategy. “In fact, 90% of people surveyed have used social in some way to communicate directly with a brand. What’s more, social surpasses phone and email as the first place most people turn when they have a problem or issue with a product or service.” – Sprout’s consumer survey, 2016.   It may sound like a time-consuming task, but it shows customers that their inquiries are important and a company cares about what they have to say or share. Don’t say I didn’t warn you! Next, according to freelance writer and Business News Daily Contributor, Danielle Corcione, building real customer relationships, using a hashtag, focus on creating a customer advocate base, and creating an opportunity for referrals are four ways a business can use social media for customer service success. Obviously, the goal of a company should be to increase the bottom line, but it should not be the focus. Building a solid, loyal customer base that will continually come back (maybe even for generations), who will advocate for your product or service, and make them feel like they are part of a ‘brand family’ should be a close second goal. In my own experience, when I shared a post or tweet about my favourite product and tagged the company, and the company interacted with me, I was positively impacted and now inclined to go back or share their information on my social media channels. I felt heard and like I had some influence.

Markets are conversations. Trade routes pave the storylines. Across the millennia in between, the human voice is the music we have always listened for, and still best understand. — The Cluetrain Manifesto, 1999 In 2014, Sephora, a world leader in beauty retail, joined the 6 percent of brands on SnapChat, blasting their followers with special deals on new beauty products. In 2015, the beauty powerhouse teamed up with women’s lifestyle publisher, POPSUGAR, to do what no makeup brand had done before: attach a mobile shopping function to customers viewing fleeting photos in Emoticode, an app similar to Snapchat. On June 6, 2016, Sephora was the big winner for small-screen commerce on mobile devices at the Internet Retailer Excellence Awards, dubbed “Digital Innovation”. In M. Penn’s University of Waterloo SMBP case study, Sephora – A Pretty Digital Face,  the author explained the essence of digital innovation behind Sephora’s award: how smartphones and tablets contributed half of Sephora’s digital traffic, and how Sephora was one of the first to launch Apple’s expedited mobile checkout platform, Apple Pay, as a payment option in Sephora’s apps and in-store. For years, the retailer had tested beacons, small sensors that track consumers’ smartphones and send personalized messages in its stores A year later, on June 6, 2017, Sephora’s Senior VP of Digital Marketing, Mary Beth Laughton, gave the keynote address at the same Internet Retailer Excellence Awards. Laughton offered insights as to how Sephora, by partnering first with Kik Messenger in Spring 2016, and then Facebook Messenger six months later, introduced its chatbot messaging apps to leverage the power of smartphone mobile by delivering an immersive retail experience that goes beyond mobile commerce and empowers shoppers to learn, be inspired and play through the power of chat. Why the move to chatbots? According to Brian Honigman, a content marketing consultant and the CEO of Honigman Media, a consultancy focused on helping marketers and entrepreneurs see results with content marketing and social media, chatbot apps are mobile’s sleeping giant because they also embrace the power of platforms. That is why the original iPhone succeeded. It was not based on product alone but also leveraged the power of the app-store ecosystem. Messaging apps provide the perfect ecosystem for the next generation of applications. It only makes sense that a chatbot, whose ancestor was exclusively used for communication, and which was dubbed by Steve Jobs in the iPhone keynote as an “internet communicator,” would… Read more »

Social Media has played an important role in the growth of modern businesses. Due to the massive shift in global digitization, companies have been arming themselves with teams of people who monitor social channels, the performance of their brand and ROI of advertising dollars across channels such as Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinerest and more. With 700 million active daily users, Instagram alone, combined with the exponential growth of other social channels, continues to be a draw for consumers and businesses alike. Since social media channels provide this convergence of consumers and brands, it makes it quite easy for marketers to start to collect data on the habits of consumers and serve up relevant and engaging content. Sometimes referred to as KPI’s or Key Performance Indicators, this data has mostly been used for reactive purposes. This type of data can help marketers and product developers understand what specifically drives customer engagement. Questions frequently ask include, was it a picture that was shared and was it a piece of literature sharing key information that served an audience. Listening to what consumers want and serving them up when they want it is a great way to connect and build brand awareness and ultimately help grow the business. Monitoring the positives does not go without measuring the negatives or the “risks” to achieving business objectives. Social Media KRI’s can also be very helpful in understanding how to quickly adjust based on operational, financial, strategic, and regulatory risks. This significantly can improve how a business weathers a storm as well.  

How would a museum know if it is successful? How would it measure success? The Mission Statement of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (“The Met”), founded on April 13, 1870, and the largest museum in the US, states, “to be located in the City of New York, for the purpose of establishing and maintaining in said city a Museum and library of art, of encouraging and developing the study of the fine arts, and the application of arts to manufacture and practical life, of advancing the general knowledge of kindred subjects, and, to that end, of furnishing popular instruction”. [1]. Daniel Weiss, president and chief operating officer of The Met, believes museums must remain relevant to a contemporary audience while upholding a mission to preserve human culture for posterity. In an interview with Yale Insights, Weiss articulated the challenges of steering America’s largest art institution, “We have to change with the times but not so much so that we lose our way … if no one is interested in our programs, then they are not meaningful programs.”  [2]. Part of the challenge managing a cultural legacy like The Met is its non-profit structure. From its 2016 Annual Report [3], philanthropic contributions have endowed the museum with about $2.5 billion. The building is owned by the City of New York (NYC), but the collections are owned by a private corporation, totalling about 950 persons. The City approved a pay-what-you-wish [4] admissions’ fee back in 1970 ($25 per visitor is recommended but a penny would comply with the City’s policy) which contributed only about 13% of 2016 revenue. However, The Met’s operating budget is about $250 million per year. Its use of performance metrics (measuring overall attendance, the number of museum members, the marketability of exhibits, the percentage of the collection on display, the ratio of adult to child admissions, etc.) are not used to plan for an increase in ROI; instead, they are used to measure its kinds of connections with the public.  “Museums create social values, for which they are not compensated in monetary terms.” [5]. The Met is deeply integrated within the life of New York City, its donors, and the art world. It plays a substantial role in New Yorkers’ leisure activities and is one of NYC’s most important tourist attractions. As visitors have a strong effect on local economies, especially in touristic locations, The Met monitors the number… Read more »

If MIT Professor Edward Lorenz hadn’t gone for a cup of coffee when he did fifty-six years ago, his 1972 seminal paper, ”Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas?” [1] may not have been written, Robert Redford may not have played a wise gambler in the 1990’s movie “Havanna”, Ashton Kutcher may not have travelled back in time in his 2004 movie, “The Butterfly Effect” to fix his childhood, and perhaps, least of all, chaos theory [2] may not have been discovered. For those unfamiliar with Professor Lorenz’s story, on that day in 1961, Lorenz was repeating a simulation he’d run earlier — but this time he rounded off one variable, from 0.506127 to 0.506, of the experiment’s 12 variables, representing things like temperature and wind speed to simulate weather predictability. To his surprise, when he got back after coffee, that tiny, tiny alteration (a 0.000127 difference) drastically transformed the whole pattern his program produced, over two months of simulated weather. “It was philosophically very shocking,” [3]  says Steven Strogatz, a professor of applied mathematics at Cornell and author of Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos. “Determinism” [4] was equated with predictability before Lorenz. After Lorenz, we came to see that determinism might give you short-term predictability, but in the long run, things could be unpredictable. That’s what we associate with the word ‘chaos.’ ” How does this lesson, that a minute change in variables can have an enormous impact in outcome, affect business product launches today? Let’s look at a recent failed social media effort to access millenials’ wallets. On the surface, it was a winner: the 2014 non-profit industry celebrated a huge success with its major international ALS fundraising movement, “The Ice Bucket Challenge”. The program went viral, raised over $115 million in donations, and attracted 2.5 million new donors [5]. Naturally, the ALS non-profits ran the same program again in 2015, but to their surprise, raised only $500,000, or 0.00434783% of 2014’s donations. So what was the minute variable that had changed in just over a year to cause the failed fundraising? In Philip Haid’s article, The Ice Bucket Challenge Part 2: What we can learn from why it didn’t work [6], he suggests the ALS non-profits forgot to consider the “why” variable in the program’s 2015 success. “Most people don’t interact with charities on a daily basis the way they do with their favorite brands, so it isn’t easy… Read more »

“Customer engagement is the emotional connection between a customer and a brand. Highly engaged customers buy more, promote more, and demonstrate more loyalty. Providing a high-quality customer experience is an important component in your customer engagement strategy.” – Clarabridge. Customer engagement has always been at the core of any successful business.   Making sure that the people your organization is trying to reach feel cared for and connected to your brand keeps you at the forefront of their mind whenever they are in need of a particular good or service.  And nowhere is an engaged customer base more important than in the case of a natural disaster.   However when you think of emergency services, you may not immediately think of the people they serve as “customers.”   After all, we typically refer to “customers” as “a person or organization that buys goods or services from a store or business.”  But, without spending money, people rely on the Red Cross, and the Red Cross relies on people for a very vital and essential service.

Lululemon Athletica is definition of a Canadian grassroots retail success story. From humble beginnings in 1998 starting in Vancouver, British Columbia, they went public in 2007 on the NASDAQ and for a period on the TSE, and now in 2017 they have over 10,000 employees and stores in 12 countries (plus lululemon.com) (Crunchbase, 2017; Reuters, 2017). Lululemon has won a tremendous following of loyal customers and employees. The culture of the company is contagious; the people that work there live and breath it. In turn, this creates an incredibly authentic dialogue between the company and its customer base. Recognizing that lululemon ran for the first 10-12 years on grassroots marketing (and two in-publication ads), the success the company is experiencing is a huge testament to who the brand is – product-wise and culture-wise (Carter, 2013).

Direct Sales has never been a business for the faint of heart or weak-kneed. Stella & Dot creator Jessica Herrin succinctly expressed this sentiment in a 2016 Forbes interview where she noted the huge ‘ick’ factor associated with the industry. Direct Sales may get a bad rap because of its potential for people to feel locked-in by high quotas, awkward customer engagement strategies and defined territorial boundaries. However, by adopting a social selling approach that’s creatively coupled with the most visually engaging social media tools, Stella & Dot  has positively re-shaped the image of direct sales in the jewelry and accessories realm. Under Herrin’s leadership, Stella & Dot is an indisputably profitable enterprise with $300 million in revenues. The company has also paid some $300 million in commissions to more than 50,000 stylists, who keep up to 35% of the value of sales they make. Herrin’s successful approach is an example of how to lead with product, be customer-obsessed and leverage technology.  How has Stella & Dot managed to bring these three elements together so masterfully, and which technologies are incorporated into its social selling approach?

Emco is a wholesale and retail plumbing supplier with highly sophisticated B2B clients doing multi-million dollar projects, and also has many ordinary B2C folk who just need a new faucet for their bathroom reno. How does a conglomerate like Emco engage their diverse customer base through social media, and, how effective is Emco’s social media customer engagement? There are two types of B2B Emco customers. Let’s consider the “3 bids and a buy” customer who calls late Friday afternoon for a price comparison. Sure, the customer is just price shopping, but Emco’s local branch will gladly fill out the RFP (Request for Proposal) and email it back promptly. They’ll follow-up conscientiously, but they know only the lowest price wins with this particular client, and this time, it may not be in Emco’s best interests to match the competitor’s lowest price as margins, ROI, and the intrinsic cost of time necessary to get this sale may not fall within their sales formula. Emco’s sales professionals know that selling on lowest price isn’t going to create an ongoing sales relationship. Emco wants all their customer’s business, and they are highly motivated to take a lot of time to cultivate multiple personal contacts to develop deep customer engagement, often requiring complicated engineering solutions to alleviate their customer’s pain points along the way. Emco’s mantra is “Get your customer out of pain”, and much like the intimate relationship between a doctor and his patient, Emco works fiercely to foster strong customer relationships based on person-to-person meetings, expertise, collaboration, and transparency formulated on correct customer problem diagnosis and resolution. Emco’s core belief: develop mutual respect and confidence based on providing solutions, and the customer–corporate relationship will have deep roots, based on mutual trust, and will have long-lasting mutual value. Sometimes, that makes their products more expensive than their competitors’, but for a large B2B customer working on a multi-million dollar project, it’s getting the job done on time, and within budget that matters most. Is it even significant then, if the customer pays a few dollars more for Emco’s product if that special valve to finish this vital stage can arrive on-site tomorrow? Suppose there’s a crew of engineers stuck out in the field, ground to a halt in BC’s interior, because they can’t move on without that specialty item. The clock is ticking and time is money – big money. Often, taking the time… Read more »

Budget Marine is the Caribbean’s leading marine chandlery with retail locations throughout the Caribbean.  Budget Marine’s customers range from live-aboard cruisers, to power boaters, to megayacht captains & crew.  Generally, their customers fall into two categories: boaters who are there for high season, and resident “yachties” who live in the Caribbean and migrate up and down the island chain to avoid hurricane season.

In a world where social media can make or break a business, Tripcentral.ca puts it all on the line for their customers. The only major travel agency to leave their Facebook reviews open for public comment (with a 4.8 star approval rating and immediate responses to any negative comments), they put their reputation to task daily to hold themselves accountable to their customers, and to be the best they can be.

TripAdvisor is a good example of how to build successful business and sustain YoY growth by customers’ usage and engagement. Once a website for hotel reviews, TripAdvisor became an online place where customers can plan and book nearly everything for their trip: starting with accommodation, restaurants, guiding tours etc. Nowadays, TripAdvisor provides both its customers: businesses and travelers, a platform to socialize. Travelers share their experiences via reviews and businesses have an option to respond directly to the traveler. TripAdvisor is one of the largest travel sites that offers advice from millions its users. With 465 million reviews, covering 7 million accommodations, restaurants and attractions in 49 markets worldwide, TripAdvisor is branded the largest travel community in the world. TripAdvisor attracts 390M unique visitors every month, more than 280 reviews are submitted to the website every minute and more than 10 000 businesses are added to the website and apps every week.

Deyaar is one of the largest property developers in Dubai, They strive to serve their customer in the best possible manner, came up with the idea which will create value for Deyaar’s customers by saving their time and effort by streamlining the processes and providing an online channel to manage their properties from anywhere.

Tone It Up was started by Katrina Dawn and Karena Scott with a $3,000 start-up investment in 2009 (Lepore, 2017). They began by self-shooting and editing beach workout videos targeted to women, that they put on YouTube. Fast-forward to 2017, Tone It Up is a multi-billion dollar fitness/nutrition/lifestyle company, boasting a community of over 5 million women (Lepore, 2017). What is in the secret sauce for their success? Tone It Up has tapped into one of the most successful tactics to propel businesses in this highly social and digital age – engagement.

  Everybody knows of their community newspapers, but few know that these community newspapers are owned, operated and published in Ontario by Metroland Media. It’s a surprise that Metroland Media is not a common household name, having most of Ontario’s community media market share. In fact many people refer to their community newspapers by the name on the front page, but behind it all, is Metroland Media. Metroland Media Group has gone through many stages of ownership and various titles, but has since been remained Metroland Media Group after the 2006 merge of Metroland Publishing and City Media Group. Torstar, originally The Toronto Star, owns and operates Metroland Media Group, Star Media Group and has a diverse and developing portfolio of operations mainly across Canada, as well as other sectors around the world.

In his article ao.com: setting an example in social media strategy, Chris Price states that AO.com (formerly Appliances Online) “knows more than most about the power of social media.”  The UK based company was founded in 2000 in by CEO John Roberts. According to the their website, the story goes like this:  “Following a drink with a friend, CEO John Roberts bets him a pound that he could change the way white goods [aka household appliances] are purchased via the internet. The AO business is born as DRL Limited.” Fast forward to 2016: AO.com expands into the Netherlands with the launch of AO.nl, is named Best UK Retailer of the Year 2016 by Verdict Retail, is awarded the Customer Experience Initiative of the Year at the Retail Week Awards 2016, and is ranked #1 in the Retail Week/Glassdoor Top 15 Retails to work for in 2016. And these are just the latest in a string of awards the company has received. As Andrew Kirkcaldy, who is currently the Group Brand Director at AO.com, admits to Price, “We have to think a little out of the box because white goods aren’t the sexiest of things to create content around.”  And at AO.com, thinking out of the box comes to life through an impressive social media strategy that touches virtually all areas of the business.

Brands becoming more Digital Consumer packaged goods companies have started to spend more for digital and social media to better meet changing needs of their consumers who are increasingly looking for education and inspiration on-line. Digital and social media helps companies to craft a more personalized and better targeted message to their consumers and, as such, often achieve higher ROI vs. traditional TV media based on one-size-fits-all approach. Parmalat Canada views Social Media marketing as an essential tool in brand building and promotional plans for its flagship brands President, Galbani, Black Diamond, Balderson and Astro. These brands have on-going digital presence at major social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. The company seems to having embraced Social Media practices that require more message customization, more personal approach to consumers and faster response time vs. some traditional marketing media like TV and print.

According to the Instant Pot website, this “intelligent multi-cooker, [is] capable of completely replacing [a] pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker/porridge maker, sauté/browning pan, steamer, yogurt maker and stockpot warmer.” Currently one of Amazon’s best selling items, Instant Pot has a huge online fan base. With an official community site on Facebook boasting more than 434K members and a number of satellite communities (e.g. Instant Pot Recipes with 122K members and Instant Pot Cooks with 60K members), the Instant Pot is an internet sensation. That said, it may be surprising to find out that Instant Pot is not a brand new product . According to Grace Hwang Lynch in her article Not Just a Crock: The Viral Word-Of-Mouth Success of Instant Pot,  the electric pressure cooker “has been around since 2010, but really became the buzz during the last six months of 2016.” Let’s take a look at the clever social media strategy that created all that buzz.

On-line retailers have been commanding a higher share of Canadian retail spending every year. The trend is largely driven by convenience (e.g., home delivery), wider assortment (due to absence of physical shelf space) and opportunities for consumers to use social media to share their opinions about their experiences with the product. Amazon.com and its Canadian web-site, Amazon.ca,  are  great examples of successfully capitalizing on the above trends to provide the best in class on-line shopping experience. Amazon has become the largest on-line retailer in North America, selling over 480 million products in the USA and 133 million in Canada.