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How Nike and Adidas use Twitter for Customer Care: Comparative Analysis 

Pat Perdue | May 2, 2011 1,040 views No Comments

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In my last two posts, I provided an overview of the customer experience via social media (Twitter, specifically) across a variety of industries.  First, thank you for all of your emails letting me know you appreciated this theme, and your requests that I continue.  It’s my pleasure to do so.  I’m thrilled that so many have found it as interesting as I do.



Okay, so let’s jump right in:  In the Spirit of the NBA Playoffs, this time we’ll be looking at the Twitter experiences of Nike and Adidas, with Zappos.com as the benchthmark for excellence.

Zappos Refresher

Here’s a refresher of the love-in that is Zappos:

@Zappos_Service I’m psyched. You guys run an awesome operation, and the VIP status is a great bonus!
@SISmith89
Sam Smith

@SISmith89 Thanks!! We appreciate the love.
@Zappos_Service
Zappos.com

The connection between Zappos’ customers and the Zappos brand is the customer-experience-equivilent to a symphony orchestra.  Perfect harmony.

Nike Customer Care via Twitter

As an overview, Nike has a variety of Twitter handles, each one dedicated to the specific sub-brand (@nikegolf, @nikefootball, etc.).  These Twitter handles appear to be primarily dedicated to PR.  However, the Twitter handle @nikestore is where the customer care interaction is.  As you read through the following exchange, I’m curious to know how you like it.  It’s not Zappos, but does it need to be?

@nikestore I’m in desperate need of a Nike Swoosh SnapBack!!! Any ideas where I could grab one? #confession
@Cshearer15
Connor Shearer


@Cshearer15 There are some Griffey/Penny Snapbacks out there would you like one of those?
@nikestore
Online Nike Store


@nikestore all im lookin’ for is a classic snapback with a big nike swoosh on the front. Really hope theres somthin out there?!
@Cshearer15
Connor Shearer


@Cshearer15 We don’t have any product like that currently available
@nikestore
Online Nike Store

The exchange ends there.  To me, it seemed a little frosty, but it’s functional.  It certainlydoesn’t warrent any spontaneous back-and-forth though.

In the following exchange, someone seems to have a challenge paying online:

Hi @nikestore why are you making it so hard for me to buy something for a friend in the states with a Dutch paypal/cc?
@Zwerver
Ronald van den Blink


@Zwerver Give us a call at 800-806-6453 & we can process that order if it’s shipping to the US.
@nikestore
Online Nike Store

Asking the customer to contact a different customer care channel to get an issue resolved (having to call, wait, explain, etc.) is never a best practice.  Taking insight from Comcast and Expedia, a better approach might have been to have the customer DM their info and a Nike agent then would call them right away, rather than telling him to go take his problem elsewhere.  That “elsewhere” could very well be the competition.

That quite major issue aside, the responses are functional, despite the lack of love between the Tweets.  But is all that love necessary for Nike?  Nike is a brand that makes shoes (better known among ballers as some serious heat), while Zappos is a store whose only distinguishing product is their customer experience.  That’s a meaningful difference between the two.    The “voice” of Nike on Twitter is like talking to your cool older brother.   He doesn’t try to impress, because he doesn’t need to.  He’s Nike.

Having said that, is “grumpy” a brand voice?  Is there room to be less functional, and more personal?  And would doing so enhance the Twitter experience and overall brand engagement?

Adidas Customer Care via Twitter

Adidas is a great brand that makes great shoes.  What’s fascinating about the below examples, is that while they illustrate a breakdown, the problems could be easily solved by planning and training.   So while they’ll appear serious, the solution is straightforward/  In the below, a customer had reached out to ask about inventory.  Here’s the Adidas reply:

@danielmancusoo It looks like we might have sold out. Give us a call at 888-923-4327 and we can help you find them.
@adidasUS
adidas America

I’m going to suggest that making purchase-ready customers contact them twice is not the best way for Adidas to sell shoes.  As always, perhaps a better approach would have been to have the customer DM their contact information, and then call them.

The below exchange is a little more wince-worthy:

Dear @NBA, my $70 @adidasUS Ibaka jersey has been worn 3 times and washed once… and is already falling apart. Lousy quality for the price.
@jeff_pickles
Jeff Pickles

Here’s the response:

@jeff_pickles give SLD a call. They make the jerseys for us and can help you out 1-800-825-6467
@adidasUS
adidas America

First, I would have liked to have seen an apology.  As well, the number provided is a different phone number than the one in the first example.  That’s sort of perplexing, but okay.  Finally, anyone know what SLD stands for?  At first I thought it was a 3rd party manufacturer. 

Always interested in walking in the customer’s shoes, I called the number to see what Jeff might have experienced (and to find out what the heck SLD stood for.   Turns out SLD stands for Sports Licensing Division).  The number is a corporate office, so I waited on the line “for the operator.”  After a moment a woman answered, and in response to my inquiry about how to exchange my jersey, she had me hold for a moment while she transferred me to what seemed like a call center.  After a brief wait, and after explaining the reason for my call (again.  Time #3 for those who are playing at home), I was told me to go to the store where I originally bought it.  In Twitter speak, this would be #EpicFail.  If I was Jeff, I’d have been be pissed.

Yes, there’s more.  In my journey in the maze of Adidas customer care, I came across a tweet that listed a customer care phone number.  I called it.  It was for a division called AdiConcierge.  But check out the Tweet:

adiConcierge is here to help you find what you need. Give us a call at 1-888-923-4327 #adidas
@adidasUS
adidas America

Why use one customer care channel just to send customers to a different customer care channel?

What adidas gear are you in need of today? adiConcierge is here to help. Tweet us or call us at 1-888-923-4327.
@adidasUS
adidas America

Looks like someone at Adidas thought the same thing.

But then again if someone asks about it…

@adidasUS Hey man, is there another way I can contact you for some questions, other than twitter?
@PeterWeinrauch
Peter Weinrauch

They might get a different answer:

Wait!  But when I go to the website, I’m told to email [email protected].  There’s no reference to [email protected].   Confusing to say the least.   I can imagine it’s also very confusing for the Adidas customer care team as well.

While I would suggest that these mistakes are serious, the solution is straightforward.  A little strategy, planning, training, and follow up would ensure tweeted customer care messages are consistent, and enhance customer engagement.

Getting back to the benchmark, neither Addidas nor Nike provide us with the names of who we’re tweeting with.  That’s a big deal, because it ensures that tweets will be impersonal and primarily transactional.  As a result, there isn’t the ongoing back and forth that happens in the Zappos Twitter experience.   Does that reflect the level of brand engagement overall?  While I don’t have data to back it up, I would suggest that it does.

Summary

Nike is a brand that’s markedly different from Zappos.  I would suggest that Nike’s customer care “voice” is consistent with the brand.  They give accurate information, and are pretty cool about it.  On the other hand, they seem to lack the spontaneous shout-outs that are omnipresent in Zappos.  Perhaps this is because tweets tend to be less personal.  Opportunities include being a little nicer, as well as following the Comcast and Expedia models of taking care of the customer when and how the customer needs to be taken care of, rather than sending them someplace else.

A note here:  I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how beautifully Nike’s Twitter presence is augmented by an ultra cool web 2.0 website, complete with twitterfeeds posted for certain Nike sub-brands.  Check it out if you haven’t already.

Adidas is also functional rather than personal (again, nameless Adidas agents on Twitter), and to be fair, there are some shout outs, and positive exchanges – although these are often one sided (from Adidas into the twittersphere, with very few replies).  The examples in this article, though, are lessons in how brands benefit from ensuring their customer care approach is fully mapped out before taking on additional channels such as a new email address, or Twitter.

Next installment will be other high-end, high visibility apparel lines, such as H&M, Zara, Esprit, and Gap.

Thank you for reading.  Please feel free to email me with questions or comments by connecting with me here.  Finally, if you would like to talk about how your brand can deliver an amazing customer experience via social media as well as contact center, contact me here, and let’s chat.

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Republished with author's permission from original post.


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