How To Deliver Buzzworthy Customer Care

Besides commenting on breaking news, celebrity hearsay and updates on latest trends and predictions across various industries, social media users also love to comment on their customer care experiences. And consumers trust word-of-mouth (WOM) reviews from their friends, family and fellow social media users more than any other type of brand referral.

In fact, an infographic from Lithium revealed that a whopping 92 percent of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family more than any other form of advertising. What’s more, WOM influences 50 percent of all purchase decisions.

As such, the task at hand isn’t simply to generate more positive WOM reviews, but also to generate a quantifiable amount of it in the first place. In other words, to increase your brand awareness, customer engagement and ROI on your integrated marketing and customer care initiatives you must strive to produce the quality of customer care that makes consumers buzz around the web.

The Internet is blossoming with blogs, social posts and news articles about companies that have entered into the “winner’s circle” of customer care. And your consumers heed the reviews included in these content types and base their decisions from them as well. Take CNBC’s summary of the latest findings from Consumer Reports—a company that provides customer care ratings—that highlights the industries that are the best and worst in customer care.

The companies that landed on the “best list” didn’t get there by chance. Rather, they exuded superior customer care that offers a human element that is becoming so vacant in customer care due to the rise of digitization and automation.

So if you want your consumers to buzz about your company, then you must invigorate your strategy and go above and beyond by personalizing each and every phone call, providing continuous professional support for Communicators so that progress never comes to an end and remaining alert to the ever-changing needs and requests of your consumers.

You can’t rise to the top by sitting, waiting and wishing…the best-of-the-best in customer care work tirelessly to provide support that positively impacts their cherished consumers.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry, including the ATA’s highest honor, the prestigious Fulcrum Award.

The Pros and Cons of Starbuck’s ‘Race Together’ Campaign

Starbucks, the coffee industry giant, is receiving mixed reviews after launching its controversial “Race Together” campaign. The coffee chain, which serves up designer beverages to millions of customers each day, is now trying to affect change among race relations by inspiring baristas and patrons to discuss the topic during the sales transaction.

Some customers and critics believe this is a great first step in sparking awareness of such a taboo topic, while others seem offended by the nature of the subject and believe it could be nothing more than a marketing stint. Regardless of the buzz and the public’s conflicting opinions, let’s explore what this campaign means for Starbucks’ quality of customer service.

A brand’s marketing campaign is, from the very start of its creation, meant to strategically invite customers to love its products and live by its philosophy. For this reason, some companies choose to sidestep the integration of divisive topics to portray a neutral stance, while others choose to stir the pot as a means of gaining recognition and establishing an unwavering brand voice.

Starbucks has come forth with a marketing campaign that affects its customer service in both positive and negative ways…here are the pros and cons:                            

The Pros

The campaign is a brand awareness game changer: Starbucks makes a daring attempt to tackle a sensitive social issue, of which the public does not take lightly. While the campaign has certainly stirred up some displeasing reviews, it has also revealed its firm stance on social justice. “Race Together” proves that Starbucks is not a wishy-washy brand; in fact, it’s more than a brand but now an activist and a fighter for human rights. This type of brand identity is likely to stay in the minds of Starbucks customers—changing its reputation form fancy beverage hot-spot to key-player in affecting change in social matters.

The subject matter invites customer engagement: The sole purpose of Starbucks’ campaign was to start a conversation between employees and their customers—something companies are constantly striving to motivate in their customer service efforts. As of late, the top trend in customer service is providing a best-in-class customer experience. In fact, according to Forrester’s Customer Index, customer-centric companies gained 43 percent in performance satisfaction compared to a 34 percent decrease for companies less attentive to customer experience. The coffee shop franchise’s drilled down and socially motivated customer focus illustrates its desire to serve its customers with the richest, most fulfilling customer experience possible.

The Cons

Forced conversation is uncomfortable: Due to the amount of backlash Starbucks received after last week’s campaign launch, its CEO has already decided to stop enforcing his employees to write “race together” on customers’ coffee cups as a conversation driver. Perhaps this is the best move for the company, as a personalized customer service interaction should commence organically, not forced upon by the cashier or contact center agent for that matter. Forcing conversation on customers who don’t necessarily want to discuss the topic of race relations not only evokes an awkward interaction from the customer’s perspective, but the employee is bound to feel uncomfortable as well.

Brand loyalty is put on the line: It’s important to treat controversial topics with kid gloves should a company integrate one in its marketing strategy. For Starbucks, its decision to push forced conversation between its employees and customers produced some unfavorable reviews from once loyal customers. One poor customer service interaction has the power to hamper future transactions, so imagine the degree to which potentially controversial customer service interactions decrease future sales. It’s tactful for businesses to establish their brand morals and values, however, they must tread lightly to avoid coming off as preachy. This is often a turn off for customers who are simply looking for an amiable service interaction.

There isn’t a definitive answer to whether or not Starbucks’ “Race Together” campaign struck a chord with its consumers in a more negative or positive way. However, it did catch our attention and it provided us with key takeaways in the matter of quality of customer service.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several University boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry, including the ATA’s highest honor, the prestigious Fulcrum Award.