“For Lindex, fashion blogs are as important as traditional media”

Back in May 2008 we could welcome our first e-commerce partner which decided to implement the Twingly Blogstream solution: Lindex, one of Sweden’s most well known fashion chains. Almost 3 years ago social media hasn’t been as ubiquitous as it is now, so taking this step and connecting an online store with the blogosphere deserved a lot of respect. Now of course, things have changed, and a host of other online shops and e-commerce sites use Twingly. That makes Lindex a real early adopter. Anders Dahlberg holds the position of Director of E-commerce at Lindex and was the one making the Twingly integration possible:

Hi Anders. Do you remember how you got in touch with Twingly?
I think it was an article on TechCrunch which made me aware of your service. They wrote about a solution for news sites but I figured that this would even work for an e-commerce platform. That’s why I called you, and after some exchange we implemented the Twingly Blogstream widget which we are still using today.

How exactly did you embed the widget?
We have it on each product site. If a blog links to a product page we automatically link back to the blog through Twingly. By doing that our visitors receive additional information regarding our products, and we send traffic to those linking to us.

What are your thoughts on the current state of social media?
Well, I think it’s getting harder for small blogs to be visible, while the bigger blogs maintain their reach. Those who only want to inform their closer friends might quit blogging and “move” their thoughts over to Facebook. Facebook is getting more important each and every day. Just look at the new comment system for third party sites which is pretty exciting, since it might help to increase incoming traffic from Facebook to external sites, like blogs.

How important are fashion blogs for Lindex? How do they impact sales?
Fashion blogs are as important as the traditional media. We work with them in the same way as e.g. with magazines – we invite bloggers to press events, maintain a dialog in our showroom and help out with answers and questions.

Which upcoming e-commerce trends do you see?
From a Swedish point of view expansion into foreign European markets will be one main theme for the near future, in order to reach new customers. Apart from that an overall trend is to become more effective in working with existing clients through service and inspiration. It’s very powerful if your existing customers are happy with your store and tell their friends about it.

What’s Lindex vision for the online store?
At Lindex everything is about fashion and inspiration. We want to inspire people to live a beautiful and happy life. We aim at making people curious with our commercials, which lead them to our site. They decide to buy something either online or in one of our physical stores in order to to feel beautiful and happy and to tell their friends about it. Having a successful multi-channel strategy in place is important, which is why our site has a high priority for getting in touch with our customers.

Customer Service 2.0

Customer service is very important, it’s a fact every company knows. But not every company understands how to handle customer service on the internet and in the social media. This creates problems when customers expect you to communicate through these channels.

The Swedish blog The Artopod Experience has written a really good blog post (Google Translate) that summaries four important points of consumer service on the internet. Here’s an inspired list translated to English:

1. E-mail

The standard way to handle customer service on the internet today, is by e-mail. Customers know how to use it, and get pissed off if you’re company doesn’t have e-mail, or doesn’t answer it fast enough. This is just a start and something every serious customer service has to use.

A tip from us at Twingly is to make the communication more personal. Have pictures of those who are answering your e-mail on the company’s website. Send your answers from aname@service.com-email , and not by info@service.com. Don’t use standard phrases with a copy-and-paste-feeling in your answers. Make it personal and those who contact you will be nicer to you. It’s easy to be harsh towards a faceless brand, but not to an fellow human being.

2. Frequently Asked Questions, FAQ

It’s the easiest and most effective way to reduce the number of incoming questions, saving both time and expences for the consumer service. Could be a page on the website with regular text, instruction movies or a giant database of information.

3. Answer questions where your customers ask them

This is something new that, through the quite recent development of social media, has become a necessity. Many of your customers may no longer come to your site or send you an e-mail, they simply ask a question on their microblog, blog, social network or forum instead, and get helped. It’s of course all good and well when the customers are helping each other out, but it’s not the only thing they are doing. Instead of just being a kind question in a forum: “How do I get it work?” it can become really bad PR: “This crap doesn’t work! Don’t buy it!”. It’s in many ways very important to handle this type of customer service yourself, even if it’s difficult to get control over it. But if you as a company don’t listen and act, you can’t influence what is said about you. Be a part of the discussion on the microblogs, blogs, social networks, and so on, and think of it as a way of not just treating your customers well, but also creating PR in a positive manner.

To do this in a proper way, you have to monitor social media every single day. The easiest and probably best way to do it, is to subscribe to search results in blog search engines like Twingly, microblogs search engine like Twitter Search and use Google Reader.

4. Let the customers help to solve the problem together with you

Another simple and really useful tool for customer service 2.0, is Get Satisfaction. Here’s a forum for both customers and official representatives from companies, that works as a customer service community. Customers can ask questions and get help both from official representatives and other customers. Companies can ask what customers really want. Get Satisfaction can also be implemented and used on your own site via an API, which Spotify does very well.

So what is really happening?

The internet has changed what customer service essentially is, in many different ways. One of the key issues is that every little problem could become bad PR. 20 years ago only the neighbors and friends of a disappointed customer learned that “this product doesn’t work so it sucks, don’t buy it”. Today the same message could be on microblogs, forums and blogs and that way hundreds of people might get the information. In real-time. Every single customer can reach a lot of people, and the message will stick, through search results, search traffic and such.

When customers have become real-time influencers, your company’s customer service and communication has to be fast, open and attentive. As a company you can no longer wait for your customers to come to you with their questions – you need to find them, and know where and how they are talking about you.

It’s quite a big revolution.