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How Alex and Ani turned its biggest social media weakness into a strength

April 17, 2015 05:01 PM
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Nobody wants to feel like they’re being ignored, especially when they have an issue with a brand’s products.
But ignoring customers was essentially what multichannel jewelry manufacturer and retailer Alex and Ani LLC, was doing during the 2013 holiday season, says Jessica Latimer Woodbury, head of the retailer’s social media and customer engagement team.

Alex and Ani, No. 279 in the Internet Retailer 2015 Top 500 Guide, was growing quickly—online sales grew nearly 250% between 2012 and 2013, according to Internet Retailer’s Top500Guide.com—and it was feeling growing pains. It hadn’t anticipated the rapid growth, which led to orders going out late, and it had an understaffed social media team with not enough time or tools to respond to many customers’ posts on social media. So Alex and Ani’s staff didn’t reply to some positive posts about the brand, and they often referred customers posting customer service issues to the brand’s call center.

Customers weren’t happy, Latimer Woodbury says. On its worst day only 5% of posts related to its brand were positive, according to social analytics platform Salesforce's Social Studio.

“We were letting our customers down,” she says. “We had to figure out what went wrong.”
To fix its understaffing problem, the retailer added six staff members to its three-member social media team and hired five employees to deal with customer service issues raised on social media. Alex and Ani also sought to improve the tone of customers’ posts by taking what it calls a “no customer left behind” approach: It tries to respond to every person who mentions the brand.

The brand uses Social Studio to find online mentions of Alex and Ani, including on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogs and news sites. Each member of its social member team is a subject matter expert, such as “bangles” or “licensed apparel,” and Salesforce’s Social Hub tool uses keywords to determine which staff member should respond to the post.

By responding quickly and without a script, Alex and Ani’s social media team humanizes the brand, Latimer Woodbury says. And that’s helped improve the tone of its customers’ posts: Even on its worst day of the last holiday season, only 16% of posts related to the brand were negative. 

 

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