They didn’t break out their dance moves. They didn’t try to put together a comedy sketch. But last year, in an effort to deepen their relationship with customers, the team at apparel brand Grey Bandit began talking to them via TikTok as they packed their orders.
Based in New York, Grey Bandit sells clothes that aim to build confidence by combining the worlds of mental health and fashion. As such, it’s perhaps only natural the company extended its customer experience (CX) to TikTok, which has become one of the most popular social media services for all manner of audiences.
“Consumers to see the behind-the-scenes of a brand. They want to see real people and put a face to who they are buying from,” said Courtney Glasser, who co-founded Grey Bandit with her sister Lindsey.
Grey Bandit has also posted a series dubbed “abandoned cart TikToks,” where different members of its team randomly chose an abandoned cart which they would send to a customer for free. “It shows that we care about our customers and like to treat them. We like to show them our appreciation for them to build the relationship with them,” she said.
With an estimated more than one billion monthly active users, TikTok has quickly become an obvious channel to market and promote a brand. However the level of engagement on its platform is such that companies have to consider how it support other aspects of a CX strategy. This includes customer service and efforts to build long-term loyalty.
Unlike more text-oriented social media services such as Twitter or Facebook, using TikTok as part of a CX strategy may require some creativity. For example, Karsyn Skuter, who leads a social consultancy specializing in TikTok called Skuter Social with her husband Ben, suggested creating video replies rather than written ones to customer comments.
These should not just be a generic reply – they should a video reply to the customer who reached out. This demonstrates that the brand is listening directly to its customers, which increases what she called the know, like, and trust (KLT) factor.
“One of the driving factors of TikTok videos providing such a good customer experience is the simple fact that user-generated content is so popular and so personalized,” Skuter told 360 Magazine. “This platform has stripped down the walls of the salesy approach to marketing and has opened up the doors to viewers being able to witness real people doing real life things.”
TikTok also has built-in features that could help bring brand voices and those of their customers closer together, Skuter added. She pointed to Stitch, which allows any TikTok user to include a five-second clip of another person’s video (like a common customer question) into their own video.
“This can create connections with your customer base and showcase the brand’s human aspect,’ she said. “These are also shared directly on your brand account.”
Taking TikTok CX personally
Those who rack up more than 1,000 followers are also able to go “live” on TikTok, which Lindsey Glasser said Grey Bandit has done regularly.
“We were able to answer sizing questions and do try-ons of pieces for them. Prior to this, this is something that they would typically ask customer service via a message,” she said. “Being live on TikTok, we were able to give clear answers to help our customers and give them answers in real time. Many customers would have the same questions as well, so it would help to streamline CX.”
This requires thinking through the tone brands should use on TikTok – and it may be different from the more corporate voice they use in other channels. Lindsey Glasser suggested that when this is done well, it can serve to achieve the kind of personalization that often gets discussed in CX circles.
“Brands need to approach customers as if they’re on FaceTime with a friend when thinking about TikTok. Customers want to feel connected to a brand to build a more personal connection,” she said. “This is a very different form of content that we would typically see on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, so it shapes the way our customers view us.”
Shaping your CX via TikTok can also involve third parties. Joe Gagliese is the co-founder and CEO of Viral Nation, a marketing and technology company that connects influencers with some brands. He said consumers are more likely to try a product they’ve seen a popular content creator promote on TikTok.
“For brands, engaging with the right influencers that align with your core values can help drive product or brand visibility and reach those target audiences,” he said, adding it can also be a way to gather feedback about a brand’s products or services.
Searching for CX answers on TikTok
TikTok content for CX purposes isn’t limited to promoting or replying to comments, either. Michael Chadwick, Head of Strategy and Experience at Cheil U.K., noted a popular tweet that emerged last year that said, “I don’t Google anymore, I TikTok.” In other words, customers might be using TikTok not merely as a source of disposable entertainment, but as a search engine.
“In many ways, this explains TikTok’s power as both a search mechanic, and also a CX tool for organizations: it’s a raw, authentic window into people’s lives, experiences and knowledge. As such, it provides a myriad of opportunities for brands to improve their CX,” Chadwick said, noting that “tutorial” has often been a trending hashtag on the platform. “On the one hand, it’s a place where people share problems and challenges – and also go looking for solutions. So an obvious play for brands is to dive deep into this world – listen to what people need, and help them get it.”
Even if customers aren’t asking for a specific fix, TikTok should be reviewed as a critical source of sentiment, much like a Yelp or similar services. Gagliese advised brands to monitor TikTok engagement through this lens.
“Are they commenting on your videos? Respond to them. Are they leaving comments suggesting that a product of your’s doesn’t work? Connect with them, collect their feedback and make sure they know they’re being heard,” he said. “It’s much easier for a consumer to leave a quick comment on a video of yours, rather than turning to a review site and drafting a lengthy response that will take time and energy.”
Chadwick agreed. In a way, TikTok may be the Voice of the Customer program brands didn’t even know they are running.
“In the rush to speak, they miss the opportunity to listen – and TikTok can be a foundational space to find out what real people really think about your brand and products, how they truly experience it in their daily lives, and where the hidden pain points around your CX exist,” he said. “This makes it a really valuable CX tool, not just from an implementation point of view, but also as a learning and insight platform.”
To do this more effectively, Skuter said brands should do work similar to search engine optimization (SEO), such as creating a list of common keywords that your customers use and unique keywords for your product or service. Then, ensure that you verbally say what keywords you would like to be recognized for in every one of your videos, especially within the first three seconds of your video. For example, if you are a makeup company that is making a mascara video. Use the verbal phrase, “Here is How to Apply Mascara Properly.”
Skuter also noted that TikTok Lead Generation can integrate with Zapier (a partner of TikTok for Business) to send leads to your CRM, or even create a custom integration with your own lead capture system.
“You can also use Zapier to set up triggers and automated workflows that help you quickly respond to customer inquiries and even create workflows to help convert those leads into sales,” she said. “Additionally, you can use TikTok Ads Manager to create dynamic ads that appear in the users’ feeds and direct them to your contact center or marketing automation platform. This way, you can easily reach out to potential customers and provide a personalized experience tailored to their needs.”
Shane Schick tells stories that help people innovate, and to manage the change innovation brings. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and Yahoo Canada and is the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.