Most of my marketing experience has come from B2B (business to business) scenarios, but recently the distinction between B2B and B2C (business to customer) has become really blurred. Afterall, marketing is ultimately human to human and we're all customers.
Those who think of themselves at B2C have been quick to adopt social media, as a natural extension of their customer service. They get the chance to engage and showcase their brand. A great way to position themselves and demonstrate their companies personality. All well and good, until it bites them.
I was the customer on two occasions this week, with very different outcomes. Firstly I ordered some christmas cards from the little known but rather lovely http://postcarden.com. They shipped as I ordered, but parcelforce failed to deliver. As the days went past, I emailed postcarden and their customer service couldn't have been better. They chased parcelforce on my behalf, proactively emailed me to tell me what was happening every step of the way and offered to send someone round to personally deliver my cards if the lost package couldn't be found. They tweeted what was happening too. I was very impressed.
Contast this, with big brand Waterstones. Inspired by Mary Portas to support the High Street, I went in store and bought 3 books. So far, so good. On return home I checked the waterstones.com site and discovered to my horror that had I purchased on line, the same books would have been £40 cheaper! I tweeted to Waterstones. No response. I took my complaint to their Facebook wall. This time I got a reply, which basically said, it was standard practice to charge more in store, as online they had to stay competitive!!!!
I wonder which brand I'll be telling all my friends about for all the right reasons, and which brand I will be boycotting in the future?!
In a world were perception is 99% reality, it doesn't matter how big brands are anymore, or whether they're B2B or B2C, your customers will judge you on how you treat them on or offline.