Monthly Archives: August 2013

Indigo Airlines Takes Off its Twitter Journey in Style!

While many brands are contemplating, whether to be present on social media or not, the rest are jumping into the bandwagon and making most of it. One of the most common inhibitions amongst brands in adopting social media is fear of complaints / grievances from the customers. However, it all depends on how you as a brand promptly respond to the situation by actively listening in those situations. Here is an experience, I had with Indigo Airlines, last week.

I cancelled my ticket with Indigo airlines and was surprised to know that they don’t refund the money immediately (this was my first airline ticket cancellation experience!). They credited my refund amount and I had an option to use it for next travel in next 365 days. Alternatively, I had to call a toll free number and request for refund.

I was pissed off with this arrangement. For a traveller who is accustomed to get refund from IRCTC within 48 hours of cancellation, this was a shocker. As a customer I didn’t like both options for these reasons:

a) Why would I leave my money with an airline? Though I could use it within next 365 days (which would obviously happen), but still it wasn’t convincing to have it credited with a service provider.

b) If at all I had an option to get a refund, why should I make an additional step to call the Toll free number? Shouldn’t there be an option within the cancellation procedure itself asking me if I want a refund or not?

Just when I was wondering, what I should do, a tweet popped up on my timeline announcing Indigo Airlines’ presence on Twitter. Now, it was time for action!!!

I welcomed @Indigo6E on Twitter and shared my grievance. It was a ‘fingers crossed’ moment.

Indigo Airlines

There came a standard response to share my booking number, similar to what other brands ask for –invoice number / order number / mobile number etc. Nothing critical about it, but depending on one’s past experience with various brands, customers are always sceptical if this step would further result in a fruitful solution or not!

I received a responsible Direct Message (private messaging feature on Twitter) from @Indigo6E and it was enough to pacify me. The countdown began for the refund process!

Indigo Airlines

Then came the surprising and satisfying moment when I saw my refund amount credited to my account, that too on 3rd working day (while they promised to refund in 7 working days). I must say @Indigo6E has got its basics right on social media and I am thankful to them. They did everything right – acknowledged my grievance, took time to take stock of the situation, promised a favourable action & most importantly stood by their words to refund the money well within the promised time period.

If you are brand manager or a social media manager here are few takeaways from my experience while you craft the social media strategy for your brands:

1) Appreciate the strength of a social media platform and set your social media objectives in congruence with your marketing objectives

2) Be prepared for the surprises! You might receive both roses and bricks on social media. You, as a brand should be prepared to leverage them  in your favour

3) Adopt the basic marketing fundamental ‘to value customer’ on social media too. Deleting a comment or ignoring a request on social media is strictly an offense (yes I mean that!) on this medium. Acknowledge every person who is taking pain to converse with you.

4) As far as possible, solve the query / grievance right on that platform itself instead of diverting them to your customer care. Social media platform is an important touch point for a brand and it makes no sense to pass the ball, to other touch point and harass customer.

Disclaimers:

1) I flew with Indigo Airlines for four times of my last six trips, and commend their punctuality and hence they continue to be my preferred airline. The refund experience has been an icing on the cake, which would hardly make me shift from them.

2) I haven’t been paid for this blogpost by Indigo Airlines. The experience mentioned above is absolutely factual.  I have written this piece as a token of gratitude for the satisfactory customer support that Indigo Airlines extended towards me.

Social Media Myths & Realities of SME firms in India

We have often come across this question – Is social media meant only for larger brands? or a variant of it Can all brands leverage social media? The basic contention is that unlike mainstream media, social media doesn’t require deep pockets to start with. Any brand can embark on this journey with an investment of just few thousand rupees.

We are all cognizant of the fact that there huge number of SME firms in India and their contribution to Indian economy is significant. The competition within a particular industry is too steep and every SME dreams to build a convincing brand in the market with respect to the big banner brands. How can it be feasible for SME firms to compete on branding front with the larger brands who splash crores of rupees on mainstream media? If social media is the solution, can all SME brands leverage it effectively?

Social Media Myths

Image Courtesy: BookingNest.

I had an opportunity to work with large number of SME brands during my tenure with AdGlobal360 as Social Media Strategist. I interacted with founders, marketing managers of these SME brands and came across various myths they had about social media and its usage. I assume you too would have across these myths while consulting / servicing your SME clients. This is not an exhaustive list, however a few major ones.

Myth: Social Media is valuable only for biggies not minnows like us

Reality: Social media is available for any and everyone. Its just a media to converse with your stakeholders. Every brand has its stakeholders with whom it would be necessary for a brand to engage on a regular basis. Especially, it would be effective for SME firms to remain present on social media and gain initial word of mouth which would set the tone for its progress.

Myth: Will only social media marketing get me enough leads?

Reality: Well, the answer is both yes and no, depending on the context. However, primarily social media is meant for ‘engagement’ and ‘relationship building’.  I understand that, as SME firms have a shoestring budget, every penny spent on marketing is supposed to earn returns. The ideal way would be to build an effective engagement with the stakeholders and gradually push them spread the word. When they do that, leads will pour in; however it would take its own time. If you ask me how much time it would take, well if you are lucky, you might start getting leads in 3 months time or might not get even till 6 months. So, social media is a waiting game, stick around and it will reap benefits for you.

Myth: Social media requires less investment

Reality: If you as a SME firm owner are comparing the absolute investment figures required in social media viz-a-viz mainstream media, then yes, it requires far less. However, one should consider the budget allocated as a proportion of firm’s total marketing budget. Also, as the lead generation cycle is delayed in social media, SME firms should consider the lag period and accordingly decide the investment required.

Myth: Lets start with Facebook & Twitter

Reality: This is a classic myth! Just because Facebook & Twitter have large audience and are well known most of them would prefer to start from here. This would be the biggest mistake for a SME firm. One should choose the platforms required based on one’s product category and the type of content they can generate to share a story about their brand. It is necessary to evaluate every platform on its merit. May be the best combination for an apparel brand would be Facebook + Pinterest, or for a B2B firm it could be LinkedIn + Blog and so on.

Myth: Even my kids are active on Facebook, why should I pay you?

Reality: Social media isn’t just about adding an image and writing a caption to it. The entire journey needs to be planned from beginning, platforms to be chosen carefully and content production needs to be planned before hand. It requires considerable time and effort to plan a successful campaign and it is of course not similar to what your kids do on Facebook!

If you have come across any other myths while working with SME brands, do add them in the comment section below in the interest of the readers.