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Why Wegmans is a Trust Agent [and your Brand should be too]

06 Aug

Everyone knows that Wegmans is the best grocery store in the country. We in Central New York take this for granted because they began in Rochester and have been in the Syracuse area since the John Glenn Boulevard store opened in Liverpool in 1968.

Image courtesy of weddingmapper.com

If you’re unaware of the wonders of Wegmans, allow me to provide a brief overview.  Way beyond a grocery store, Wegmans is a total experience.  From the beautifully displayed fresh produce (of which there is more variety than you can imagine), their delicious prepared food items and  their friendly and knowledgeable  employees, Wegmans is three cuts above the competition.

Now Wegmans is becoming known for their prowess in another area: social media.  The @Wegmans twitter account is leading the way with 8,700 followers and a Klout score of 45.  What is Wegmans doing that is making them so successful at social media?  Let me tell you.

[At the end, I will share with you my personal story of why I will be a Wegmans customer for life.]

Offering Content their Followers Can Use. What would you want if you were following a grocery store on Twitter?  Wegmans knows.  They share a recipe of the day, information on new products, tips for using a variety of fresh ingredients and news about upcoming store openings.  Wegmans also posts links to well-written articles and quirky videos from their blog Fresh Stories on topics ranging from food and wine pairings to profiles of local farmers who they partner with.  If you’re following a grocery store, this is probably the kind of content you’re looking for.

Joining the conversation. @Wegmans bio on Twitter reads “Can’t wait to talk to you!”  And they really can’t!  If you mention @Wegmans, be prepared to get a response.  I have not seen one instance of a Wegmans mention going unnoticed.  They are consistently ‘on’, and they are listening to what their customers have to say.  In social media, if you’re not talking to people, you’re sunk.  This is a far cry from what Wegmans local competitors are doing in social media.  @PriceChopperNY doesn’t really do much conversing on their account, and they’re follower:following ratio is pretty low.  But at least they’re trying. P&C on the other hand, seems to be a lost cause.  They don’t even have a social media presence from what I could gather from their website.

Having a consistent voice. Even though they haven’t told us who’s tweeting for Wegmans, you get the feeling there’s a real person behind the account.  This is not easy to do when you are representing a brand, trust me.  And not only do you get the sense that it’s a real person, you get the sense that it’s the SAME person.  The tone of the conversation is always consistent: easy, friendly, engaging, without a hint of sarcasm.  You don’t get a young, bubbly voice one day and then a boring monotone the next.  Wegmans is always pleasant, and this fits perfectly with their brand.

Showing they Care. I was going to divide this into several sections focused on what Wegmans does right with their account:  following up, doing what they say they will do, being polite.  But then I realized that they are all about the same thing:  showing your customers that you care.  This is what Wegmans is best at, and it puts them head and shoulders above not only their competition, but most companies using social media.

I promised to tell you my Wegmans story. It’s the reason I wrote this post – and why they have me as a customer for life.

I found a new product that I really liked when I was on vacation in South Carolina recently.  Starbucks doubleshot Energy + Coffee in 15 oz cans.   When I got home, I went to Wegmans and searched the aisles for what I call ‘my new love.’  Hmmm, not finding it in the store.  I found a few similar items, but not the one I really wanted.  Having interacted with Wegmans on Twitter many times, and being the social media junkie that I am, I asked @Wegmans instead of going to the store manager. Then this happened:

1.  They asked me for specifics on the product.  I sent them this image.

2.  They responded that they would check with their supplier and get back to me.

3.  When I tweeted about it to my followers, they responded that they couldn’t promise anything.  That’s fair.

3.  They contacted me a few days later and said, sorry for the delay, we are still working on it.

4.  I got a tweet from Wegmans asking what store locations I usually shop at.  I gave them my #1 and #2 stores.

4.  I got a DM from Wegmans asking me for my email address.

5.  I got a very nice letter from Michelle, a Consumer Services Specialist.

6.  The products will be in both of my store locations of choice by the middle of next week, and I have a contact name in each store to follow up with if there are any questions or concerns.

7.  Customer for Life.

In their best-selling book, Chris Brogan and Julien Smith say this about the emergence of ‘Trust Agents’ in social media:

“People who humanize the Web are trust agents.  People who understand the system and how to make their own game are trust agents.  People who connect and build fluid relationships are trust agents.”

Wegmans has become a Trust Agent – and thereby my loyalty and devotion to their brand.  Isn’t that what every company wants?

Do you have a great @Wegmans story? or a story about another company who has your allegiance because of their astute use of social media?  Share in the comments.

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19 responses to “Why Wegmans is a Trust Agent [and your Brand should be too]

  1. Chris Brogan...

    August 7, 2010 at 10:38 AM

    You’ve got it. Spot on. I’m glad you brought up the example. It’s a perfect one. I know some folks at Wegman’s HQ and they’re of the same culture. It’s a good thing.

     
    • kellylux

      August 7, 2010 at 10:04 PM

      Chris,
      Thanks for your comment. As I’m reading your book, I’m on the lookout for Trust Agents. Wegmans is a no-brainer because they were trust agents long before the web existed – that’s why they’ve been so wildly successful. Thanks for a great book- it’s the first selection of the Syracuse Twiterary Society. We will be discussing the book in a promoted twitter chat under the hashtag #CuseTS on 8/24 @ 8pm EST. We would be honored to have you and/or Julien in the discussion.

       
  2. Tracy

    August 8, 2010 at 6:20 PM

    Kelly,

    I agree with you completely about Wegmans, they are fantastic!!!

    I think that Jet Blue also does a great job with their customer service utilizing social media. I observed a mutual friend of ours comment on twitter to @jetblue and within minutes (if not, seconds!) @jetblue responded and resolved the situation for our friend…

    Utilizing social media to bring better customer service to the public is one of the reasons why I love it so much!

     
    • kellylux

      August 9, 2010 at 8:42 AM

      Jet Blue is another great example. They are leaders in their field, and other airlines should be following suit. It speaks volumes about their competitors that they are not in on the conversation — there is a lot of negativity about the industry floating around out there. Thanks for commenting!

       
  3. Anthony Rotolo

    August 8, 2010 at 8:41 PM

    Kelly, I couldn’t agree more with this post! Wegmans has done an outstanding job humanizing their online presence. As Chris and Julien might say, Wegmans really shows they’re “one of us” through their approach to social media.

    Last semester, when we were doing the Social Media Futures Charrette at SU, a few students tweeted about some of the food selections that had been purchased at Wegmans. I was impressed with how quickly Wegmans responded to our students and become involved in the discussion. This not only added value to the student experience, but it sparked a lot of positive feelings about the Wegmans brand among the event participants.

    I often use Wegmans as a positive example in class and when I speak about social media. It would be great to have someone from their social media team visit my class one day…

    / @rotolo

     
    • kellylux

      August 9, 2010 at 8:46 AM

      There are so many good examples of what Wegmans is doing. They respond equally well to positive and negative comments (although the overwhelming majority seem to be positive)… We’re going to have to work on getting someone from the Wegmans social media team to come & speak to your class. It would be a perfect fit!

       
  4. Michael Moscardini

    August 9, 2010 at 9:38 AM

    I grew up in Johnson City, NY (near Binghamton) and there is a Wegman’s, luckily, in that location.

    When I was 12 or 13 years old (around the early 90s), I filled out a customer comment card praising how the layout of the store was easily navigable for even someone my age and how friendly and helpful all the employees were.

    I didn’t think anything of it, but later that week, my mom received a phone call, while I was out, from a Wegman’s employee thanking me for taking the time to give feedback and for my praises. They said please feel free to give any other feedback that I may have and thanked me for my patronage.

    They knew my age, which meant I had little or none of my own money, and still treated me as though I were an adult.

    I just wish they had a Wegman’s in NYC so I could still shop there!

     
    • kellylux

      August 9, 2010 at 2:43 PM

      Michael, That’s a great story! and proves that Wegmans has been at this long before social media came along. Because that kind of interaction happens so infrequently, it makes a lasting impression. Thanks for commenting!

       
  5. jpedde

    August 10, 2010 at 10:15 AM

    This story is incredible. I LOVE Wegmans. I really do – it is the best grocery store the world over, and this post definitely exemplifies why. However, I wish my experience had been this positive.

    A month ago I was doing a presentation on local case studies for how businesses were using social media that was going to be given at the local Chamber of Commerce. I tweeted at Wegmans to ask about their social media and while they did respond quickly they gave me SUCH a generic response, “We at Wegmans Love social media to connect with customers!”

    While the face that they got back to me was appreciated, I had asked them in a DM who I could get in touch with to have a conversation with about their processes. I never received any kind of response after that. So while I will ALWAYS shop at Wegmans, and Always talk about how they really are a trust agent, they really dropped the ball with me – which maybe shows that they aren’t perfect and more human – but still. Part of Social Media is taking the relationship beyond twitter.

     
    • kellylux

      August 10, 2010 at 1:19 PM

      Interesting, and surprising. But I think we all drop the ball at times in our SM interactions, especially if we are getting lots of mentions/DMs. If you tweet about that exact incident, I’m sure you will get a different response.

       
  6. Patrick

    September 22, 2010 at 10:01 AM

    Wegman’s is an experience!

    I grew up in Buffalo and lived in Rochester for years, when friends from around the country & world came to visit I always made sure they saw Wegmans.

    To this day I have friends who always tell me “that place is amazing!”

     
  7. emmatangerine

    June 5, 2011 at 5:06 PM

    Kelly, great post on Wegmans! Grocery shopping in Boston isn’t the same without their store.

    I think what’s really great about Wegmans social media presence is that it is echoed in their stores. The fact that the Wegmans experience is both in stores and in their online presence is what makes them such a great case study, in my opinion.

     
    • Kelly Lux

      June 5, 2011 at 5:36 PM

      Emma, you are absolutely right. Wegmans not only talks the talk, they walk the walk, and that is absolutely essential for trust agents. From what I hear, Wegmans is planning 5 new stores in the greater Boston area (1st one opening this fall) so your grocery shopping experience is about to get a lot better :). Thanks for your comment!

       
  8. Business Coach Steve (@SteveBorek)

    January 15, 2012 at 10:37 AM

    What’s so obvious about your list is the obvious. Common sense things anyone can do yet few that follow through. I had a similar “customer for life” moment at Five Guys which I wrote called “Give Me Some Wow.”

     

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