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CASE STUDY

Sweetwater

Learn how musical instruments retailer Sweetwater Sound uses best social media customer service practices to create one-on-one relationships with customers.

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Sweetwater Sound is the world’s leading music technology and instrument retailer.

The company has created a campus in Fort Wayne, Indiana, complete with a huge warehouse of instruments, a guitar gallery, a music academy, a recording studio, a diner, a coffee bar, a theater, and a giant metal slide that runs through the atrium. In short—absolute heaven for music lovers.

And the team at Sweetwater is downright dedicated to passing on that joyful spirit to every potential customer it comes across. In fact, Sweetwater is famous for including a bag of candy in every order that ships from its warehouse.

Every customer of Sweetwater’s is paired with one sales rep—for life. The retailer employs 300 Sales Engineers to help customers select the right gear and product models.

The Sales Engineer is assigned to a customer in Sweetwater’s database and is always the point-person throughout that customer’s relationship.

The social team, led by Steve Dwyer, is extremely proud to optimize Sweetwater’s renowned customer service through the power of social media.

Since Steve joined Sweetwater in September 2014, he has worked to scale this unparalleled customer service with the newest possibilities to do so online.

Equipped with the power of social media listening, Sweetwater has a digital way to invite online fans – who might otherwise be anonymous – into personal relationships with its team of Sales Engineers.

The Challenge

The process of buying a musical instrument, like a guitar, is intensely personal.

Sweetwater takes great care to make the in-store experience playful and customized—so Steve’s challenge is to provide the same experience online in an efficient and cost-effective way. This dedication to fans online is used hand-in-hand with the store’s digital marketing efforts, including Sweetwater’s famous online “Guitar Gallery.”

The Guitar Gallery is a high-res photo tour for guitar seekers to flip through. Every guitar that they have in store, the employees take out of the box to photograph, and upload it to the site.

Let’s say the Sweetwater warehouse has four guitars in a specific model in stock. Customers can pick which of the four guitars in a specific model they’d like down to the glistening finish.

Before being shipped off, each guitar goes through a thorough 55-point evaluation, and the buyer receives a certificate with the purchased guitar.

“Sweetwater uses social listening to carry these one-on-one relationships over to social media, identifying the specific customers that come through the online space to an overall database.”
— Steve Dwyer, Social Media Manager, Sweetwater

The Results

Sweetwater is known for shipping a bag of candy with each order, regardless of the item’s price.

Recently, when a customer tweeted, “I’m disappointed that in my many years of doing business with Sweetwater, I didn’t receive a bag of candy with my order,” Steve’s team was on the case in a heartbeat.

Steve doesn’t have a screenshot of said tweet–the customer deleted it. Why? Steve’s team spotted the unhappy musician and was able to use our platform to connect the Twitter handle to the overall customer database.

“We saw the tweet and sent him a jar of candy, without reaching out to him (to surprise and delight him). When he received the candy, he tweeted this,” Steve says.

Here’s a sample of Sweetwater’s recent brand mentions across the web. Steve keeps a sharp eye on the red line, which tracks potential negative mentions.

If Steve clicks through the spikes, he can check the four negative mentions from May 19. Looking through the flagged results, it looks like Steve has nothing to worry about this time. A disappointed customer doesn’t come around very often at Sweetwater. But the extra candy is on hand, just in case.

“We monitor any and all content that comes through listening. If we find even the tiniest bit of negative sentiment, we jump on it.”
— Steve Dwyer, Social Media Manager, Sweetwater

Summary

With a proactive listening strategy in place, Steve is able to keep a bird’s-eye view on the Sweetwater brand and the industry, and jump in to meet every potential customer’s needs.

Properly set up, the company can fully take advantage of the glory days of customer experience management.

Sweetwater is enjoying earned media, with happy customers spreading the word about Sweetwater’s amazing customer care. Sweetwater is also enjoying increased sales as the Sales Engineers are able to hold customers’ hands from social media through to the Guitar Gallery through to a sold guitar. And Sweetwater is building on its already-stellar reputation, extending the breadth of its one-on-one customer relationships.

Increased sales, increased reach, increased reputation—all from listening in to brand mentions and committing to one-on-one social customer care. Rock on, Sweetwater.

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