This fall’s New York Fashion Week was the most social one to date. But with so many people talking fashion on Facebook and Twitter, are the brands talking back?
Twice a year, some of the most famous names in fashion come together to share the latest trends and newest designs at Fashion Week in New York, London, Paris and Milan. This September, New York Fashion Week was shared like never before. Designers used Facebook and Twitter to connect their customers and share everything from the backstage madness to the clothes themselves. The Twitter volume for New York Fashion Week was up one-third from February’s Fashion Week, and double that of September 2011. Over 670,000 tweets spoke about New York Fashion Week.
While these high-end fashion brands are great at sharing content with their followers, are they talking back to customers who reach out?
Looking at these four high-end fashion retailers, it’s clear that there are many different approaches to social customer service out there:
Banana Republic – Headquartered in San Francisco, Banana Republic is a luxury clothing brand of Gap, Inc. All Gap brands are known for being socially active, and Banana Republic is no exception. They showcase the group’s “no-nonsense”, human social skills across all Banana Republic Twitter accounts. The retailer uses Twitter effectively for marketing messages, special offers and customer service; but these admirable customer service responses haven’t quite made it to Facebook. Many customer queries posted here are left ignored – and visible for all to see. If Banana Republic were as proactively engaged with their customers on Facebook as they are on Twitter, they would offer a much better social experience for their customers.
Barneys New York – The famous luxury department store stocks brands such as Marc Jacobs, Diane Von Furstenberg and Alexander Wang. While Barneys may be social media savvy, they’re missing one important element: social customer service. As part of Barney’s wider social media strategy, their newly launched website shows just how they actively use Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Although these social campaigns invite their customers to interact with the brand through sharing lists and favorite items, Barneys’ official Facebook page has its wall turned off, and the team replies to very few service queries raised on Twitter.
Bluefly.com – Based out of New York, Bluefly.com is the largest e-commerce company selling discount fashion. The website was the first to sell luxury items at discount prices, and the company has become so popular that they even developed their own social network, Bluefly Closet Confessions, where customers share what’s in their closet. Bluefly use Facebook and Twitter to share contests, promotions, products, fashion facts, and quotes from famous designers. But when it comes to dealing with real complaints and questions, Bluefly definitely have room for improvement. They use Twitter mainly for marketing, providing minimal customer service and dealing with only certain incoming issues. On Facebook they are little more available to their customers, answering some messages that come in, but not nearly all of them. Bluefly are on the right track with social customer service, but have further to go to make social channels reliable routes for customer contact.
Coach, Inc. – Known most prominently for their ladies handbags, Coach is a luxury leather goods company that got their start in a loft in New York City. Coach is very active on social media, but use their accounts mainly for marketing. Don’t expect to receive social customer service from Coach on Twitter – they don’t reply to customers. Coach is more responsive on Facebook; although they don’t have a clear social customer service program, they seem to answer a few customer complaints and queries here and there, but they mainly refer the customers to call centers.
Why are these high-end brands a little behind the trend when it comes to keeping up with customer expectations online? Is this thought of as precautionary to avoid inviting complaints, or is social customer service not a priority for them yet? It seems that while many high fashion brands are innovative when it comes to social marketing campaigns, social customer service might be something to look out for next season.
Do you think luxury brands need to add customer service to the mix for their social media strategies? We’re interested to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
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