One of the biggest lessons in social media I’ve learned over the years is the application it has to a business as a whole, not as a social media adopter or front runner. Being able to tap into a core of your fan base, and allowing them immediate access to your brand is critical and necessary. These platforms, when monitored, planned for and responded to have the ability to:
- Improve customer service response and engagement, while also lifting a more positive sentiment
- Identify product that is working and may not be (and sometimes, health risks)
- Underscore direct response from customers about business process that dampers the experience and loyalty to the brand.
99.9% of the time I’m on the brand side, behind the scenes trying to meld social media with business applications. That .1% came to me this past weekend.
My mom bought my sister and I a new snowboarding package from Sport Chalet for Christmas. We’re long time advocates, have purchased many wakeboards and other boating gear there in the past 5 years and have gotten to know the staff. Christmas was perfect timing, as we were able to order 2012 gear for half the price. The only drawback was we had to wait until the first week of January. Truly, that was not an issue at all. Long story short, our boots and bindings only arrived, never our boards. And staff couldn’t tell us what was going on, or help us reset our expectations of when it might be delivered. So this past Saturday, with our family trip just a week away we went in to get our boots and bindings and bite the bullet by investing in a 2013 board.
Except our boots and bindings weren’t there. They had been sold. Talking to the manager we learned that the ordering process was manual, kept in a hand-written ledger and left up to the individual employee to manage and track. That’s a lot of responsibility on an employee, and poor business practice from an operations stand point. It’s 2013, things should be automated by now. If small businesses can manage it, so can large corporations.
My mom ended up spending $400 more for 2013 equipment for us than planned. And to me, that’s upsetting. I took to Twitter and within 2 hours, the CEO of Sport Chalet DM’d me back wanting to immediate address the issue and asked if he could call me. I was a big fan of Sports Chalet, I’m a huge fan now.
Mr. Levra took time out of his meeting schedule during a tradeshow to speak with me. He was polite, concerned, direct and a good listener. He tried to humanize himself with finding pieces of conversation that related to me (talking about Sunrise Mountain in AZ), explaining the business operation changes that are set to be implemented this year that addressed the issue I had with tracking our order, and thoughtfully offering to help rectify the price difference.
Fans and loyalists are strengthened via social media. A better business operation is developed by listening to your fans and loyalists. And this is true with Sport Chalet.
Thank you Mr. Levra, a job well done!