Hello, my name is (insert name here). How may I help you? It’s the standard formula for basic customer service etiquette. Usually, you state your problem over the phone, and the representatives either help you or play the transfer game, in which they bounce you around to different departments, hoping you will hang up in fear of death by hold music. Now, however, the typical help desk scenario has evolved into the world of retweets and hashtags, as a little over 30 percent of brands have dedicated customer service handles on Twitter and Facebook.
While many companies have clung to the status quo and retained that stereotypical subservience of a customer service representative, some accounts have taken the opportunity to share the personality of their brand, even if it comes off as slightly rude.
For example, after receiving many questions about having a new extension of its product available for customers, the Cards Against Humanity account for this popular party game, tweeted to their followers, “We may have secret cards for you if you behave yourselves.” The account is known for these kinds of responses and for retweeting people who make negative comments about the game as a part of their tongue-in-cheek humor.
In another instance, the Twitter account for fast food chain Wendy’s accused a follower of “forg[etting] what a refrigerator is for a second” when they questioned whether the restaurant used frozen meat.
Cards Against Humanity and Wendy’s off -kilter responses to customers may seem unprofessional, but it actually promotes brand loyalty. The logic is really simple: if you find it offensive, then leave. Meanwhile, a study from marketing advice and media company Convince and Convert showed that 53 percent of those who find that humor funny and decide to follow the social media account for similar content, will go on to purchase from that business.
In addition to weeding out those people who aren’t a part of the true customer base, a personalized social media account can greatly increase popularity for the company. When a third-party Twitter account posted screenshots of the exchange between Wendy’s and the stubborn meat skeptic, the pictures received 34,186 retweets.
When a brand chooses to be creative and forego the mundane automated responses that are used by other companies, it makes their corporate reputation seem a little less cold and a little more connected.
Of course, there is a limit to how far you can stray from the political correctness of social media. Best exemplified by when the chef of Pigalle Restaurant in Boston used profanities to ward off a pumpkin pie critic, there is a fine line between being funny and disrespectful. Especially on social media when the tone and intimacy felt in person are lost, it’s important to know if an insult will alienate a potential customer.
In 2017, it’s clear that companies no longer have an obligation to be professional because life’s too short for that. Brand humor on social media has give the world too many laughs to be taken away, but it is important for each business to identify the boundaries of their online personality before carrying it out on the Internet. As a potential consumer, I want to be entertained while feeling like my problems are being solved.
– Shreya Gunukula – Video Editor -