LL Bean Changing With the Times

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Working in retail and dealing with customers I read with great interest this article from Jaco Blog Media:

I don’t have to tell any of you working for heritage brands in “old media” that it’s a daily challenge to rethink everything – especially the relationship with the audience. That’s especially true for a topic that we’ve been talking about all year – CX – the consumer experience.

Last week, the New York Times profiled a company that’s going through some of the same challenges that are facing heritage radio stations – how to interface with a rapidly changing customer base.

L.L. Bean has a great reputation for great customer service, but it’s been accomplished over telephone lines. You call them, and you get a helpful human. In fact, during the holiday season, 3,600 people man the phones in Maine to take customer phone calls and orders, answer all kinds of questions, and simply interact with callers

But the demands of our digital era have literally forced L.L. Bean to set up Facebook and Twitter pages – and as we know, that breeds an entirely different level of customer service issues. It’s public – everyone can see and hear the good, the bad, and the bitchy. And it requires an entirely different set of rules than what L.L. Bean uses on the phone.

To deal with customer posts, tweets, and comments, they have hired dedicated social media team members, but have gone a step further by using a monitoring service – CoTweet – that helps the company manage and observe some of the conversations that take place.

Now you may be thinking that L.L. Bean is a big company with more resources than you have. But the fact is that they’ve wisely concluded that because “everybody” is on Facebook, and Twitter’s influence is growing, they have no choice but to address the changing ways that customers interface with the brands they love – or even love to hate. And shouldn’t your brand be reaching that same conclusion? Have you hired a social media person yet? Or at least a social media consultant to help you navigate these waters?

For L.L. Bean, it appears to be working. Despite the speed bumps, complaints, and the demand to rapidly respond to complaints, they now have more than 83,000 “likes” (not nearly the 100,000 phone calls they receive each day at this time of year).

But as you can see from the exchange below, achieving true customer service in 2011 requires new strategies and revised tactics than just having friendly telephone operators:


Every brand that has customers has to rethink everything.

And that means radio, too.

What’s your social media strategy for 2012? What’s your plan to achieve a strong CX?

And by the way, it has nothing to do with “bowtie stopsets” or first quarter sales contests.

There are no “best practices” for your station because the rules need to be concevied and tested for your individual brand and your unique audience.

It’s time for a strategy – and not just “random acts of social


Fred Jacobs

About Fred Jacobs

Fred Jacobs, created the Classic Rock format, and has been a leading force in Alternative and Mainstream Rock. Currently, Jacobs Media services are used by nearly every major broadcasting company, including CBS, Entercom, Emmis, Cox, Greater Media, Citadel, Journal, and others. Jacobs Media has also provided consulting services to The Corporation For Public Broadcasting, National Public Radio, and public radio stations around the country.