This last week I got to take part in a social experiment where my entire class, at the behest of our professor, bombarded Gymboree’s Twitter.
Why? Well Christmas Jammies, of course!
Professor Liz Kerns is the proud mother of 3 very cute little boys who, because of some serious miscommunication, were about to break their wintertime tradition of getting new Christmas Jammies. She had tried what any customer would do and she reached out to Gymboree with no success. The Christmas Jammies were still nowhere to be found.
Unwilling to accept this defeat, PK (as we affectionately like to call her) came in to our Social Media Strategies class and asked us to utilize the skills that she had just spent the last several weeks cultivating within us: Mass Tweeting to elicit response from the company in question. She called it a social experiment. This was to see if Gymboree would react to our influx of Tweets and a test of their customer service skills.
In short, we wanted to see what they would do in the midst of a potential social media/PR crisis, because as you know, no Christmas Jammies is a BIG crisis!
The social experiment was simple: Tweet using @Gymboree, @FialaKerns, and use the class hashtag, #OlivetSocial. The first to get a response wins. Well, I won!
Within 20 minutes, and after dozens of individual tweets, Gymboree responded to me and PK in the most efficient and smoothest way possible.
THIS is why the use of social media in Public Relations is so imperative. Being able to jump on a situation like this, especially during a time where people are notoriously blowing things out of proportion, is the difference between gaining customers and maintaining a good image, or complete and utter downfall. Imagine if Gymboree not responded or worse, responded in a way that was unprofessional or rude? A classroom full of mini soon-to-be social media gurus would have lit them up and done everything they could to make sure their customer base knows what type of customer service they have. Instead, because of a simple tweet back, they built up a good public image, and showed the whole class what good customer service looks like.
It might not seem like much, but in a room full of future parents, I think its safe to say that they gained some loyal customers in a future that is probably nearer than we all think.
So what do we have to learn? Customer service and public relations are two very separate entities, that with social media to connect the two, will do more that any other company without good CS or PR could ever do.
Oh! PS. In case you were wondering, there was a very good ending to the Christmas Jammies story…
The reply to my tweet was nothing compared to the physical action they took. This picture was taken the day AFTER the experiment. They overnighted the jammies and Christmas was saved!
Way to go, Gymboree. Its one thing to talk the talk, but to actually follow through? Well, lets just say that one day when I am a mother, I will be sure to visit you guys first!
By Kate Cox, Account Executive, Kankakee County Center Against Sexual Assault (KC-CASA)