When I started working with local food trucks (zydecobistro.com) ;) back 2010 it was like a reboot for me as a marketer. The goal was to add as many local "foodie" followers as possible and convert them into customers. Getting them to show up was actually pretty easy, but watching them interact with the chef and supporting staff really opened my eyes on how disconnected traditional advertising/marketing had become. These social platforms allowed food trucks to scale the 1-to-1 relationship (digital word of mouth). –Fast forward to 2018 and we all know how loyal "foodies" are to their favorite restaurants, food trucks and craft breweries. As we hear all the failures of retailers going out of business it seems to be all traced back to this social media shift. Yeah... yeah, I know Amazon is the usual suspect in this "retail apocalypse", but they filled a HUGE void that customers crave just like their favorite street food off the truck. Simplicity of transaction and engaged customer service. Retailers that establish this type of customer connection along with great products or services are the ones remaining at the top.
I'd like to share my latest retail customer experience renting a car. Lately when I travel, I've been using Lyft or Uber, but our latest trip to Hawaii required a car for the week. We booked the airfare and cashed in some credit card points that matched us with Enterprise Car Rental. So far, so good... Picked the car, staff seemed friendly (in an average way) but the office seemed more like a take-a-number driving bureau, even offering a lonely row of kiosks to avoid interacting with their staff I guess. The issue wasn't the check-in, it was when I dropped the car back off. My mind was thinking about the gas tank being full... If I'm in the right line... Are we good on time to make the shuttle to the airport, etc. When I jumped out of the car you get hit with multiple questions as I'm grabbing suitcases and bags. To make a long story short... I forgot my favorite iPhone car charger... You see it's not like any other iPhone car charger, it's the Road Rockstar™ by Belkin. I've had it on all my road trips with associates and family... It has those additional 4-ports for additional charging. I really liked that charger, haha. For me, Belkin is one my favorite brands when it comes to my digital lifestyle. As I watched this younger worker drive off with my rental I had this feeling that I forgot something. It wasn't until we took off that I realized what I forgot.
My Loss is really Enterprise's Loss
My first attempt at recovery was to forward my email contract over to their office with a note about my charger. I figured after the 9 hour flight, I would have gotten a response. We landed, drove home then called the location later that evening due to the 6 hour time difference. I spoke with lost & found employee and she abruptly said it's not here. It kind of caught me off guard, so I asked are you sure? "It looks a little different than your normal phone car charger." She put me on hold for a little longer came back and said it's not there. Okay, I understood (and probably expected it not getting turned in) -So is there a way to see who cleaned my car? Or if it's currently being rented out and possibly reaching out to the new customer? She put me on hold again and this time it was for 12 minutes and then it hung up. As a customer, my mind shifted from "it's my fault" to who took/stole my iphone car charger? I tried calling back and got voicemail. I tried a few more times and no luck, very frustrating. I mean, it's not like they could call me back right? So the next step for me was to go social. I posted a negative review on Google Maps, along with a flurry of tweets and shares on Facebook to share my customer experience. All I got was generic replies saying upper management will be in touch (never did), and/or if we find we will be in touch. I don't consider this real engagement, now if they called me back and explained the process of where the car goes after check-in and that they really exhausted all options looking I would have felt better, and realizing that it was my fault for leaving it. As I'm typing this post... I'm thinking how sad is it that items left behind aren't returned usually or expected to be? It makes me not want to rent from them again unfortunately. This whole process reminds me of a book intro that was just shared from John Andrews and Ted Rubin called of all things... Retail Relevancy. Their upcoming book explores how brands and retailers can thrive in the future by being relevant in consumers minds which is now more important than ever. I think I'll ship one to Enterprise when it's out :-).
Okay enough doom and gloom, because I went social with my issues... the Belkincares Teamstarted reaching out to me. First, I received a mention on Twitter, (which included Enterprise) then a DM saying send me your address. THE NEXT DAY I had a new Road Rockstar Car Charger!!Also, they threw in some additional DuraTek™ Lightning to USB Cables. The level of trust and loyalty I have using Belkin's products has never been higher because of their customer service and when it's time to make another digital accessory purchase I won't even shop around because of this connection I feel with this brand.
If retailers would actually roll their sleeves up and start taking social media seriously they have chance to evolve and survive the "retail apocalypse" and truly become retail relevant. Incorporate a team that truly listens to real conversations and requires a marketing strategy that rates SOV(share of voice) over Page Oneclicks from Google is a must. Just like food trucks, big corporations can scale 1-to-1 customer relationships like never before by using apps like Photofy, for in-the-moment content creation and Hootsuite for monitoring, listening, curating & posting. With a little extra effort Enterprise Car Rental could have built a relationship instead of wasting one.