I had the opportunity to listen in to a webinar the other day that was hosted by the Institute of Customer Service. The webinar featured Mark Pilkington, who is the Head of Sales for Complete Cruise Solution, who run P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises and Cunard Line, a major provider of cruise holidays. In the webinar he talked about how they are using social media in their business.
What I wanted to do was share some of the tips and things they have learned that, I believe, you could apply in your business.
In the webinar, Mark came up with the following series of quick tips of things that have worked for them:
- Be sociable – respond and comment!
- It’s a conversation – don’t spam
- Include pictures, video and surveys
- Ask for feedback from customers
- Focus on quality over quantity
- Link between traditional and social communication tools
- Try to take “complaints” off-line quickly
- Link all your various profiles
- Don’t be too corporate or “on message”
- Be honest, informal and controversial!
- Stick loads of inbound links on everything
- Use Hootsuite and google alerts to monitor
- Update regularly (but not too often!)
- Get your staff involved – trust them to speak!
For me, I think the two really stand out tips are:
- Try to take “complaints” off-line quickly – I think this is a key point and it reminds me of the saying ‘ Don’t wash your dirty laundry in public’, particularly when dealing with complaints. Deciding when it is appropriate to have a ‘public’ conversation and when something more ‘private’ or offline would be more appropriate is key for you and the customer.
- Get your staff involved – trust them to speak! – Mark made a great point when he said that, in business, we, generally, trust staff to send emails to customers and to speak to them on the phone so why should communicating on social media channels be any different. If you trust staff to communicate in one area then why would you not trust them to communicate in a social media channel. If you don’t then think about what message that sends to your staff and how that could affect the effectiveness of your communication to your customers in that (and other) channels.
However, coming back to the title of this post, what struck me about Mark’s talk and after having checked out their social media sites was this….their business is ideally placed to leverage the use of social media for their customers. Why?
Well, think about it this way……when you have ships that range from 1,200 to over 3,000 people on board and that set out on journeys that range from a few days to a few weeks then what you are creating or hosting is a temporary community for the time that they are onboard the ship. Also, going on a cruise is an adventure but your enjoyment of it will have a lot to do with the community that is built up and exists on board the ship.
So, what, I believe, P&O have done is to use social tools is to start trying to bind those communities together before, during and after their journey providing them with real time updates, allowing them to connect with each other, share photos, videos & memories and maximise their chances of having a great time.
Where’s the community in your business and are you using social media tolls to help build and connect that community even if it is only a temporary one?
Thanks to ecstaticist for the image.