Soup, Spoons and Social Media

I went to Subway last week. I don’t typically eat at Subway, but there is one by my office and I didn’t have much time for lunch. As I walked in, on the door, there was a window cling encouraging me to order soup with a combo. When I got in line, I looked up and there on the menu was an ad encouraging me to order soup. At the register there was another sign.

So I ordered soup.

I grabbed a seat. And realized I didn’t have a spoon. I looked up by the straws and napkins. There were forks and knives, but no spoons. So I asked the woman behind the counter – the same woman who sold me the soup – if they had any spoons. After asking another employee, she confirmed that they had no spoons in the restaurant.

The big picture

It seems both silly and odd that a franchisee would go to all the trouble of putting up all the signs and ads and then mess up something as simple as having spoons.

But I think this type of thing is very common in business. Often, we see people obsess over seemingly insignificant details, only to completely overlook a major issue. They work on the details and lose sight of the big picture.

As designers, we see this a lot.

Clients spend time and energy critiquing minor elements of a design, but often forget to shore up the logistical issues that support a campaign. Marketing and design are critical, but so is customer service and support. Think about my Subway story for a second. The marketing worked. I entered the store. And I purchased soup. However because of a minor – but critical – oversight, I was a dissatisfied customer. 

Social media and a lack of spoons

Right now, social media is all the rage. Everyone seems to be talking about how social media can help their business. Worrying that they’ll be left behind if they aren’t on Twitter or Facebook. Consultants are aggressively selling social media services.

But I fear many of these folks are losing sight of the big picture. Social media is a tactic. And yes, it can be an effective and powerful tactic. But as companies develop their social media plans, they cannot forget that it is just the beginning of the customer relationship. Strategically, you need to think through the entire customer experience. What are you going to do with your customers after you reach out to them through social media? How do you want to engage your customers on a continuing basis?

I’m not saying social media is bad or that it isn’t important. There are absolutely uses for social media in business and marketing. Just remember that the social media tactics are only the beginning. You and your company need to prepare for a long-term customer relationship.

Or in other words, when you decide to sell soup, make sure you are ready to provide spoons.