Should customer service take advantage of the selfie phenomenon? - TELUS International Europe

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  • Should customer service take advantage of the selfie phenomenon?

    September 3, 2014

    By Kevin Bottoms


    According to Media Bistro, over one million selfies are taken each day.

    And, as much as some people would like to blame Apple for starting the trend back in 2010 when it first introduced its front-facing iPhone camera (can self-portrait taking get any easier?), what we really need to do is figure out how to take advantage of the selfie phenomenon to better our relationships with customers.

    Why companies should embrace the selfie

    If you think selfies are a passing trend, it’s time to think again. In 2013, “Selfie” was named the 2013 word of the year by Oxford English Dictionary. With such an official accolade, selfies are likely here to stay. And savvy companies are taking notice. In fact, several companies are finding ways to encourage selfie-taking as a way to connect with their customers, stockpile user-generated content, increase consumer engagement – and ultimately to close more sales.

    Selfies are a simple, effective way of communicating and expressing ourselves. And we all know the power of the selfie when it comes to Generation Y, one of the largest generations of all time, and one that influences a lot of spending power. This generation of consumers has become accustomed to interacting with brands directly, and nothing is more engaging then the selfie.

    Who’s doing it already

    A few big brands have already started leveraging selfies for customer engagement and sales. Here are a few examples:

    – In March 2014, Zappos piloted its personal shopping service based on the selfie. Instagram users were encouraged to tag selfies with “ootd” (outfit of the day) to receive Zappos personal style recommendations and tips.

    – Also in early 2014, fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld opened a new shop in London with dressing rooms that doubled as photo booths. Shoppers were encouraged to take selfies and share them with friends via social media right from the store’s dressing rooms.

    – Fashion retailer Tommy Hilfiger was not far behind, installing wall mounted iPad kiosks in the dressing rooms in its flagship store in Dusseldorf, Germany. Shoppers have the opportunity to share their experience directly from the dressing room with a few taps of a finger.

    – Beauty retailer Sephora latched onto the selfie craze with its new social network Beauty Board. The notion is that consumers want visual proof of how the product actually looks when wearing it. For Sephora, the site is also a goldmine of user-generated content and a key to ongoing customer engagement strategies.


    At one Tommy Hilfiger store in Germany, wall mounted iPad kiosks in the dressing rooms make selfie sharing easy.

    Selfies in customer service?

    It’s clear that selfies are a natural fit for online retail, fashion, and beauty products, but what about the rest of us? How can other companies leverage the power of the selfie? While there aren’t a lot of examples out there (yet!), I believe customer service could be one area in need of selfie exploration.

    Customers often rank authenticity and transparency as top traits when doing business with a company. Selfies can be authentic and very transparent. They show real people behind the brand, which helps create a more powerful emotional connection with a customer. Customer service is an excellent touch point to make that connection.

    With so much customer service now taking place online via email, chat, text, social media, and online forums, even something as simple as sharing selfies of your service team (vs. just canned photos) could go a long way. After all, consumers buy – and continue to work with – people they know and trust. Selfies are one way to make service more personal. And on the consumer side, a picture is worth 1,000 words. If your product could benefit from actually seeing the customer in action, then why not ask? While it’s not clear how much selfies can support a solid customer service strategy, savvy companies should definitely consider the tactic – and realize that maybe selfies are not such a bad thing after all.

    Have good examples of companies using selfies specifically for customer service? Please share!

    customer service

    Kevin Botttoms is Global Vice-President of Sales and Business Development for TELUS International.

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