In bed with Zappos

A cheeky title for a post about customer service through Twitter and the way Zappos nails it.

So much for the literature, better for hailing a best practice on customer service.

The story begins late at night. A warm summer-like night in Paris, France. The stage is set in a random flat, home to a random, mustache-wearing guy … (blame Movember for that; and show support too) lying on a sofa/bed (and now the title does make some sense …).

Suddenly, the silence of the night is broken by a shout. A tweet in fact.

Listen to the noise.

Indeed. Do listen.

Back to business and the use of networks (Twitter in particular, here), it is crucial not only to have a presence but also to listen to the overall “noise” made on the network.

Your brand may appear there – hopefully it does because otherwise you are non-existent – for either good or bad reasons.

In any case, capturing the positive and/or negative feedback is key to the customer experience and service you are providing.

The tweet I received was, in fact, a reply to a tweet I sent about an article I curated about Tony Hsieh and the Downtown Project in Vegas. The reply came from Zappos’ customer service handle. In a short and easy form since the tweet, to @sampavin, read “:)”.

Mind you, I am always happy to get a smile. Read a few lines above about the positive/negative feedback bit.

That was positive.

That also shows how Zappos are listening to the Twitter noise and catching mentions related to their “ecosystem” (Tony Hsieh, Vegas, Downtown Project) and not solely to their brand.

And they even go beyond that.

Engage with people.

Yes, they not only listen and take note but they do also engage with people.

Please note that I have never been a Zappos customer in the past and that was my very first interaction with them.

But here, not only am I getting a smiley (as I said earlier, it is always nice) but also a mention by a Twitter user with a lot more followers than I have. Vanity ranking : up :)

And that was not the end of it.

A short reply from me, a mention of a trip to Vegas and we ended up sending half a dozen tweets each with me getting an invite to have food at the Zappos campus.

Let me say that again, I have never been a Zappos customer and that was the first time I would interact with them.

From a brand point of view, having paid attention (to the noise, again) and taken time to engage with an individual is a positive message sent out.

And going the extra-mile by having a chat and being nice is just amazing.

Be amazing, create value.

This is a wonderful experience. First because it goes far beyond customer support.

I am not a customer. And I did not tweet to them, be it to ask a question or complain. My only move having been to tweet an article related to “acquaintances” of the brand.

Yet they showed appreciation.

And we could chat.

And they offered value to me, by offering a tour of the campus, followed by food (supposedly good – I need to check that now) at the campus.

All out of nothing. I did not expect a thing (even the contact in the first place) nor was I asking for anything.

By doing so, they create an amazing value for the brand.

I now “know” Zappos beyond the sole name and brand. Further than knowing, I have had a taste of a wonderful customer experience. So, just a few tweets transform into customer acquisition and, not the least, advocate acquisition too.

Proof is … this post. I am writing about best practices with customer service through social networks but Zappos provide the real-life example of a best practice.

Listen, engage, be amazing.

Keep these three bits in mind to create a mind-blowing experience for customers.

And a quick reminder (an actual major one in fact), this does work when there are real people behind the wheel.

That is my last take from this Zappos best practice, the people handling the Twitter account are real people. They act, speak, engage and behave like real people, not scripts.

That does make the difference.

I had written a wee piece on the good, the bad (and ugly) use of Twitter for customer service, I shall add a fourth; the best, which is described here.

Now, way to go for all, sort your tweets and be amazing ! (at customer service for a start …)

… And high five to the Zappos people !


By the way, whoever agrees/disagrees, do feel free to hit me in the comments below.


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