Social Listening Scores a Sale for Thermos

As the result of a random comment, an unexpected response, and a dash of personality, I am the proud new owner of a 40 oz. Thermos “King”.  The entire experience took place over Twitter and served as a good example of some really easy things that any brand can do to make them stand apart from their competition.

Before I share any more, I have a confession to make: I have a very special relationship with coffee.  Ask any of my friends and family and they’ll tell you that few people consume it as often, or will go to the lengths to get a good cup of it, as I will. I’m typically a dark roast kind of guy, I always take it black, and I like it piping hot.

A few days ago my home Keurig was on the fritz and not brewing as hot as it usually does.  I took to Twitter with what probably deserved the hashtag #firstworldproblems and made the following statement:

I didn’t think twice about making the comment and wasn’t really expecting anything to happen aside from a few emphatic statements from my followers.  Within the hour, Thermos decided to chime in:

First lesson to take away here: Always be listening! Thermos was paying attention to what people (in this case, me) were saying and seized an opportunity to build rapport and drive awareness/revenue.  I had no idea that a Thermos could keep your beverage warm for up to 24 hours (this comment also drove engagement/promotion from other friends of mine who commented on how much they loved their Thermos’ ability to maintain a hot/cold temperature.)  

I was intrigued, so I clicked on the hyperlink which took me to the product page on their website.  I found it to be very informative, but it was missing one crucial thing: a button/link to “buy now”.  I would have probably purchased that exact one if it was there on the page, but since it wasn’t I decided to instead do some browsing on the site, ultimately finding a Thermos that I liked:

Second lesson to take away here: If you’re going to promote a specific product, make it obvious and easy for your customer to make the purchase.  When I made this comment, I should have probably asked the question, “How can I buy the thermos that you were promoting to me, because that isn’t an option on your website”, but instead found an alternative.  Thermos acknowledged my response, but never did resolve the issue of why there was no “buy now” link for the item they promoted to me. 
Would I have liked to see them explain why I couldn’t buy the other one? Yes.  Was it the end of the world that they didn’t? No.  I found a product I liked, told them about, and they took the step to reaffirm my decision.  They then added a nice human touch on to the end of their comment.

Third lesson to take away here: On social media, we can’t be all business.  Your customers want to see you have a personality, they want to be able to connect with you, and they want to think of you as a trusted friend.  (They are called “SOCIAL” networks for a reason, after all.) But above all else, your customers want to feel like you see them as individuals.  The company that treats me like a number, or has a very transactional approach to service, is the company that I look to replace.

By this point, I started to have this feeling about Thermos.  A) I thought it was cool that they were listening and B) I liked that they were treating me like an individual.  It wasn’t until after our final exchange of tweets, however, that I decided that I definitely had to buy a Thermos.

I responded to Thermos’ question, took the opportunity to promote my regular coffee shop (yeah, I used the attention that a global brand was giving me to promote a local business too – good customers want to see the companies that they care about be successful – remember that!), and had a little bit of fun.  In their final response, Thermos showed me (and anyone else who might have been paying attention to our interaction) that they are more than a container company.  They are humans, they have a sense of humor, and they care about me as a customer.  There isn’t much more that I could want from a company than that!

It was a fun interaction and it came from a company that, to be perfectly candid, from which I never expected.  I think that made it all the better.  I also hope it gave you a few reminders of what it takes (and how uncomplicated) it can be to provide great customer service on social media. 1) Always be listening. 2) Treat the customer like an individual. 3) Have a unique, memorable “personality”.

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