A Case of Why Brands Need to “Be Awesome” More Often

Talk about a simple but powerful story in the below video.  A person walks into PF Changs and tweets how much she loves the lettuce wraps.  Since PF Chang’s is active on Twitter, they see the message and decide to “be awesome” and send the girl on Twitter a free dessert and appetizer.

Now think about that for a second.  From across the country, PF Chang’s reached out and delighted a customer in a way she wasn’t expecting.  And this person wasn’t a celebrity.  They weren’t an influencer in the sense of being a food magazine editor or a restaurant reviewer.  They were just a fan of the place that was sharing how much they love lettuce wraps.

And PF Chang’s had NO expectation of getting anything more out of it.

For me, that is what sums up the benefits of Social Media.  It gives you a chance to put a human face on your company and your brand.  Hell, it gives you a chance to actually act like a human instead of just a marketer or business person.

In it’s simplest form, Social Media gives Brand Managers a chance to thank the people [ie consumers] who make their job even possible [by buying the products].

So if you are in marketing, when is the last time you actually thanked a customer?  When is the last time you tried to “Be Awesome”?  Does your company even have the systems in place to let you do so?  If not, it is time to start making a change.

Thanks to Karl Long for pointing me to this video and Andy Sernovitz for the original version of it.

Comments

  1. says

    >And PF Chang’s had NO expectation of getting anything more out of it.

    do you think? PF Changs just identified a restaurant critic.. do you really believe there was no expectation (or at least hope) that the recipient wouldn't tweet again about the special treatment she received?

  2. says

    Slippery slope. At first, it's about surprise and delight. After more people catch on, it has the potential to slide into expectation and entitlement. Not saying that companies *shouldn't* try to be awesome. Just raising the classic argument of what holds many of them back…how do we reconcile?

  3. Scott Cone says

    You could have also pointed to "United Breaks Guitars". Up to 2.4 mm views on YouTube and countless millions of more media impressions from new outlets covering the story of a musician who had is guitar broken by United who then arrogantly and foolishly refused to deal with it. Another brand goes down from the power of the digital community. This guys "anti-jingle" will stick in the minds of flyer's who've heard it forever. When are businesses going to accept "command and control" is gone and that the consumer now has the power to bring down their carefully managed brand image in a matter of days?

  4. says

    A few responses — full disclosure, I work at the P. F. Chang's home office:

    @afhill: Of course we expect to get more out of it. That's the idea of great customer service. Give people a great experience, and they'll want to come back. And talk about it with their friends. Our servers have been doing this for years, and take a lot of pride in it — Kelly from the video above is one of our trainers, and is a great example. Twitter can help us better support our servers. (And also gives our guests more ways to tell their friends, which is fine with us.)

    @Peter Kim & DKnoxMU: Fair questions and appreciate the thoughts. Don't you want your customers to expect great things from you? Isn't that what keeps them coming back?

    • says

      Thanks for engaging in the conversation. Good to hear an opinion from the source.

      My point – along the lines of Reichheld's "bad profits," in my experience, promotions and similar one-off events are suboptimal ways to acquire customers with any sort of long-term value. As long as you bake awesome into your core product, adding even more awesome on top will compound loyalty. But companies that don't start with awesome are just throwing away short-term money and attracting pests.

      And I'd like to see "awesome" listed as an ingredient on your menus in the near future. :)

      (Disclosure: I'm a customer, props to your downtown Austin location.)

      • says

        I am not sure the promo in this case is so organized as to create "bad profits" although I do agree that such a thing exists. I DO think that the real win was the engagement…reaching out in real-time. These is a lot of "love" being bought by the engagement…the coupon just helps cement the relationship since problems eventually occur.

        Case in point…I was in a PFC in MD recently. First, only one of our two meals was initially delivered… the second came 7-8 minutes later when they realized the mistake. The table was never cleared…we just kept pushing plates off to the side. Then the wrong drink order was delivered. Finally, the the bill rang up wrong. All things considered, it did not make for a perfect impression, but the food, and my past experience with PFC's, were good enough to likely overcome the problems. But like any service chain dependent on lots of lower level staff to deliver on "awesome", creating more outreach and little goodies to drive WOM, is immensely valuable for overcoming the hitches that always crop up.

  5. says

    Being "awesome" every once in a while earns you goodwill — deposits in the emotional bank account — that can be drawn against when needed (i.e. when you break a guitar). Little things like this define who you are as a brand. For example, who would you define as a better person — one that donates to a charity in one large lump sum once a year, or one who gives a little bit *very* often? Of course, that's subjective, but so are humans. When companies behave (well, or poorly), humans subjectively analyze their behavior and draw conclusions. Being awesome, or doing awesome things once in a while, will contribute to the conclusion that you'd *like* your consumers to draw.

  6. says

    I love the idea. Also, there is a difference between customer service and a thank you gesture. Both can delight, but they're different animals. A "thank you" even without a spiff, can make a good impression.

  7. says

    To me it's all about "mutual exchange." In theory, you should get something for giving something. In my opinion, often that exchange is not in the proper balance. In this case, the customer shared feedback. That feedback was rewarded with the free food.

    The real question is what would have happened had the feedback from the customer been negative. For example, "these are the worst lettuce wraps I've ever had, WTF?" The customer is still sharing feedback. But, what would they have gotten in return?

  8. says

    With PF Chang's or any restaurant chain trying to gain and/or keep customers, the key is customer experience. Even in this short discussion, we have comments that shout out PF Chang's with a great experience and then another who says not such a good impression in their recent visit; but they will come back because of other past good experiences. The underlying thread in either situation is consistency … how does the brand perform over time; do they have the training in place to garner great customer connections. It seems that if the goal is to be awesome, it can't be a one-time effort, but consistent performance. And if consistently great performance leads to an entitlement mentality, because we are "awesome" I think most companies would say no bad profits here.

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