Posts Tagged ‘ zappos ’

Could Social Media Hurt Your Business?

Over the weekend, I heard about how the Riverside Hotel in the UK had “catastrophic collapse in bookings” due to a red flag on its page through TripAdvisor. The red flag claims that they believe that those associated with the hotel were posting fake reviews of the hotel to boost ratings. This occurred when TripAdvisor tracked the IP address of one of the reviews back to the hotel. The hotel claims that one of their guests posted a review while on the hotel’s Internet connection. According to the hotel owner, Deborah Sinclair, the flag on the TripAdvisor page has ruined business.

“When it went up, the phone stopped ringing. I guarantee 100% I’ve not written anything about my hotel on there.”

TripAdvisor recommends to patrons that they don’t review a hotel while they’re staying there, but it isn’t a requirement for posting a review. In my opinion, this isn’t the best system. There will be customers who don’t listen to the rules and recommendations, and will post reviews while staying at a hotel. Should it ruin the hotel’s business?

On the actual page for the hotel on TripAdvisor, the reviews were mixed. While some praise and love the hotel, others hated it. Of course, it’s almost impossible for a business to have 100% customer satisfaction (unless you’re Zappos) so I wasn’t too surprised when I saw the mixed reviews. If the hotel was trying to boost ratings and post fake reviews, you’d think that their ratings would be more consistent with praise.

All of this begs the question, can social media hurt your business? The answer: yes and no.

People will always speak out against businesses they don’t like, or bad experiences that they’ve had with a brand, especially on social media. If your business does get negative feedback through social channels, learn how to deal with it. Boloco does a great job of this by responding to detractors on Twitter without inciting controversy or anger.

Unfortunately cases like the Riverside Hotel are unique, or at least, you don’t hear about them often. To be honest, I’m not sure which side is being truthful in this situation. If the review was fake, then the hotel is paying the price. If TripAdvisor’s review system screwed the hotel over, then clearly there needs to be a major change in their system.

For better or for worse, social media is around to stay. Businesses need to learn how to properly use these channels to gain a larger customer base, and give great customer service. For the Riverside Hotel, they need to forge ahead and develop a strategy to gain back customer support.

The Power of Social Media: Why I Love Zappos

Zappos Tour

One afternoon I decided that I wanted a new pair of sneakers. So, I logged into my Zappos account and ordered some. Later on that day, to my surprise, they had upgraded my shipping to overnight for free! I was so excited that I had to tweet about it. The next thing I knew, I was responded to via @Zappos_Service thanking me for my loyalty to their brand and an exclusive offer to join Zappos VIP. Now I get free overnight shipping with every purchase. How cool is that?!

The bottom line is that most members of Gen Y love Zappos for a couple reasons. The first is that we love to shop online. In a survey conducted between 2004 and 2008, the Pew Research Center it was found that “Generation Y is the most likely to be engaged in all the various activities — communication, entertainment, e-commerce and entertainment-seeking”. In fact, 71% of active Gen Y Internet users buy products online.

The second reason Gen Y loves Zappos is because they can effectively communicate with their customers. In another TNGG article I agreed with one marketing guru that channels are much more important to Millennials than actual brands. In the case of Zappos, we love not only the channel, but the brand as well. Having a company online makes them easily accessible considering the fact that we spend so much time online. However, their ability to utilize these channels in different ways is what makes Gen Y love their brand.

Zappos is the poster child for effective communication with customers. Nothing is forced and they’re truly genuine. You get the sense that they’re always there for you. Not only does their CEO personally tweet on a regular basis, but their customer service account is active as well and always prepared for questions. They’re easily one of the top customer service accounts on Twitter.

At the end of the day, Zappos is a company fueled by customer service. Their television advertising shows adorable puppets acting out Zappos customer service calls, and you know the consumer will always end up happy. Doesn’t everyone (not just Gen Y) want friendly and reliable company representatives?

Millennials do want customer service, we just want it in different ways. Older generations prefer more much personal forms of service. Millennials want service as fast as possible and in the easiest and most accessible methods, like social networking. Zappos has met this demand with their online customer service efforts.

Zappos isn’t just preaching their ideas of customer service. They’re actually practicing them. CEO Tony Hseih wrote a book about “using happiness as a framework can produce profits, passion, and purpose both in business and in life”. Knowing that everyone in the company, even the CEO, genuinely believes in the same business principles is comforting.

Without a doubt, Zappos is a perfect example of a company that has leveraged social media in a positive way, for both the company and its customers. And it’s easy to see that Millennials have taken notice. Whether it’s through their website, Facebook, Twitter or advertising, Zappos truly is Power By Service.

Image credit: Robert Scoble via Flickr