In my interview with Rachel David, founder of Hashtag Communications, we discuss social media customer service, managing remote employees and how businesses can leverage influencers to build trust with potential customers.
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If you prefer to read the transcript from the video, it can be found below.
Michel: In this interview, I’m speaking to Rachel David to talk to her about social media, customer service, managing remote employees, and I’m going to ask her about the Jerk King fiasco.
Michel: Guys, thank you so much for joining me. I’ve got the brilliant Rachel David with me to talk all things social media, customer service, influencer marketing, and managing a remote team, all things that you can speak to in a professional, expert manner, which is why I invited you.
Michel: So, thank you so much for joining me. I’m going to jump right into it, because I saw something this weekend where you went off. You went off on Instagram story about a restaurant called Jerk King.
Rachel: Don’t say it fast.
Michel: And Uber Eats.
Michel: Tell everyone the story.
Rachel: Okay. So I am a huge Uber-, I feel like most people, most millennials love their Uber Eats.
Michel: How many days a week though?
Rachel: Well, probably on average four. Yeah, but in the snow especially, it’s maybe a little bit more, but you’d think working from home, you would use less Uber Eats, but no I’m just always home. It sounds a really nice to not leave my bed right now, and just have it delivered, so I use it a lot.
Rachel: Anyways. This was a couple of days ago, I ended up, Oh God, it was so rattling. I ended up ordering my Jerk King, my favorite Jerk Chicken on Uber Eats, and I saw that I accidentally had my friend’s address in there. So, I quickly deleted it, and I’m like, ‘Okay, well, I’m not going to send it to my friend’s address. I don’t even know if they’re home. ‘Yes, I would if I knew they were home, but I don’t know, and do they even like jerk chicken? I don’t know.’
Rachel: So, I just was like, ‘Let’s cancel it’, but then there was a notification that said, ‘You’re going to be charged 17.50 to cancel this’, but in my mind, I’m like, ‘That’s a spelling typo, it’s 1.50, it’s not 17.50. You’re not charging me 17.50 in one second. Nope.’ Nope, they are.
Rachel: So I said, ‘Cancel,’ and then I get the thing that’s like on my history, and it was like ‘You just got charged 17.50 for nothing’, and so I was like, ‘Okay, that’s ridiculous’. So, I ended up sending a note to Uber Eats. You know, you can send them a message through through the In-app service, and I didn’t hear a response, and then I found a number, and I was like, ‘Okay, well I will reach out to that number, and talk to somebody.’
Rachel: So, the man on the other line was really nice, and he’s like, ‘Yeah, I’m really sorry you’re going through this. Let me try to call the restaurant. We can’t do anything at Uber Eats. We actually can’t do anything’, which I find that hard to believe, but he was like, ‘But what I can do is call the restaurant’, because I guess it’s like they set their own rules, and parameters.
Rachel: So, he tried calling the restaurant 13 times. He’s like, ‘I’m going to put you on hold for five minutes’, and then he’s like, ‘Sorry, I haven’t gotten a hold of them yet. I’m going to put you on hold for another five, 10 minutes’. At this point, I’m just like, ‘This is really bothering me’. I started getting pretty rattled, and then he picks up the phone, he goes, ‘I’m really sorry we can’t get ahold of them, and I’ve tried 13 times.’
Rachel: I was like, okay, well first of all, how am I even going to order? How are they even preparing my order if nobody is there, and picking up the phone? Like, who is this ghost preparing my food? So, I was like, ‘Okay, cool. Can I call them?’ And he’s like, ‘Yeah, you can try, and see if they can do something’, and that’s when I just got angry.
Rachel: So, I tried calling, nobody picked up. So, I was like, you know, I’m going to order again. Let’s see if they are there, are they going to send it to me, ’cause I would like to look this Uber Eats, even though I know it’s not his fault, I need to let this out. So I was like, ‘Come to my place, look me in the eye, and really tell me that nobody’s in the restaurant to pick up the phone, just pick up the phone’.
Michel: This is pretty sinister.
Rachel: Who was that, ‘Pick up the phone babe’? Who was that, Young Thug? No, I don’t know. I feel like you would know. Oh no, that’s a good one. No, I was thinking, ‘Pick up the phone baby’. You know it, what’s that song?
Speaker 3: Young Thug.
Rachel: Young Thug. See? I was right. There you go, culture, culture.
Michel: So you’re documenting this whole experience.
Rachel: On my Instagram.
Michel: Instagram story.
Rachel: Well, because at that point when they didn’t pick up the phone, I was like, ‘Well what can I do? I guess I have my social media, and I can tell people’, ’cause really at the end of the day, the thing I love is that you can advise people what to do, what not to do.
Rachel: The thing is, if you wait to cancel it in like 10 minutes, that’s one thing, but within a second? Come on. So, I told people on my social media, this is what happened. So, just so you know, make sure you have the address right, because you could be charged a ridiculous fee in a matter of a quick little mistake, there’s no mercy.
Rachel: So then, I put this on my Uber, or sorry, on my Instagram, and I tagged Uber, and Jerk King. Well, Jerk King didn’t have social media, obviously they don’t even have a phone. So, I hashtagged Jerk King, and I was just telling the whole story, and was like, ‘All right, maybe I should switch from Uber Eats, maybe like what’s up Foodora?’, and I like did the little wave, and then Foodora reached out within a second.
Michel: I saw that.
Rachel: That was pretty wild. It was literally in five minutes to be like, ‘Hey, here’s a promo code.’
Michel: So does immediacy, obviously that positively impacts social media customer service, but what else has to be brought to the table for brand to be great at leveraging social media as a communication tool with their customers?
Rachel: Well, I need to finish off with where the story ended, was that Uber Eats actually saw what Foodora, because I tagged them in the whole thing. So, in the end, right after I did that, they messaged and was like, ‘Sorry, we’ve refunded you’.
Rachel: So, was the social media aspect of kind of putting them I think out there, and being like, ‘Hey, hold yourself accountable to that, you shouldn’t be doing this’, and so when they told me they couldn’t do anything, and then they could, to be honest, it did still bother me, cause I was like don’t do this to other people. Just because maybe like if you’re verified on Instagram, you have a lot of followers, you can make change. You should really be doing this, and treating people equally.
Michel: What about the authenticity part of it? Cause it sounds like they weren’t gonna do anything about it until you pretty much had your foot on their throat being like, ‘Hey, your competitor’s talking to me right now’, and then they changed their behavior.
Michel: So, would you suggest that authenticity, it has to be a pillar to being great at social media, customer service?
Rachel: I think it comes down to what you preach, which is start from like what are the pillars of their culture, you know? And for me at my company, it’s just being kind to people, you know, and treating people with just don’t be a dick. Do you know what I mean? Don’t be a dick, and if you really follow that, like in my world, like in the way I lead my life, you know, I think every even person has their own sort of morals, and values obviously, and the way that they lead their life.
Rachel: And especially as a CEO, you have to create that culture, so you have to lead by example. So, that’s like, you are nice to everybody. Like, for me it’s like you’re the Uber driver, you’re the surfer, whoever it is, you treat them all equally, and with the same level of respect, and kindness, right?
Rachel: So, I think that goes hand, in hand with a company as large as Uber. It’s like, what are the pillars of customer service, what actually can, and can’t you do, and I think communication is one of the hardest things, especially as you scale.
Rachel: Uber scaled so quickly. So, I kind of understand how maybe some departments know certain things, and maybe some others don’t, but I think all getting on the same page, and being united, you know, unity is really big.
Michel: When a customer has been wronged, but had that wrongdoing resolved, do you think we as consumers have the ownership to go back online, and say company ABC did it well, or is that just expectation, and table stakes?
Rachel: I think that it’s a nice thing to praise somebody for doing the right thing, because everybody loves acknowledgement, and I think that you’re able to motivate people through acknowledging them.
Michel: For the record, I did not prompt her to say that, because I’m just about to go on a tangent very briefly. It’s our responsibility as consumers to help power great experiences.
Michel: There’s somebody, a human being at the end of the interaction that just wants to be acknowledged, and if you give them that gratitude for a job well done, it’s going to empower them to want to do it again, and again.
Michel: That is our responsibility as consumers to better the customer experience. What companies are doing social media customer service really well? Do you like watch from afar, and you’re like, ‘That company is doing it’.
Rachel: Customer service really well. I mean, I think the first thing that comes to mind is like the amount of E-commerce brands that started E-commerce. They weren’t bricks, and mortar and then went E-commerce. So, you’re looking at companies like Fashion Nova that are like responding to every DM so quickly.
Rachel: You know, cause social media is their thing, so they’ve kind of taken it to a different level. I think brands are getting a lot smarter when it comes to campaigns on social media, and how they are trying to get attention from people. There was something wild that happened about a week, or two ago. I don’t know if you saw it with Casey Neistat, and Burger King.
Michel: I did, but share the story please.
Rachel: Okay. So, long story short, basically Burger King went into really big social media influencers Twitter, and they scrolled farther, back, back, back like 10 years. Now, anybody who gets a liked tweet from 10 years ago, and I’m guessing Burger King is verified.
Rachel: So, when you’re verified on Twitter, you immediately get a notification that somebody liked, or commented. So, that’s why getting verified on Twitter I think is one of the best verification social networks to be verified on, because you can get ahold of anybody, I’m telling you it’s a game changer.
Rachel: So, Burger King went, and liked a bunch of influencers tweets from 10 years ago, and so obviously the reaction’s like, ‘Why are they liking our tweets from 10 years ago?’ So Casey tweeted at Burger King, ‘Why did you like my tweet from 10 years ago?’ And it was all kind of part of this big campaign to get influencers talking about Burger King without sponsoring, or paying them to do so, and then it kind of pissed off a lot of influencers. So, there’s a good, and bad way.
Michel: You mentioned Fashion Nova, I was just thinking about them the other day being like at this company seemingly came out of nowhere, and dominated social media by leveraging influencers. What type of perception is given when a company leverages influencers? What customer perception?
Rachel: Well, I mean this is the world I work in. I run an influencer marketing company, and so the reason why I even chose this field, is because I know it’s on an upward trajectory. It’s a four point $5 billion industry right now in North America. It’s going to be a $10 billion industry in 2020, that’s like what, next year? That’s pretty crazy.
Rachel: So, we’re seeing it go upwards, and I think the reason is, is because of the loyalty that people have, especially millennials. Millennials, when they’re buying something, 60% of consumer products especially made online by a millennial are made by something they see on social media, and that is because they’re spending like on average nine hours a day on social media. That’s pretty crazy, but if you think about it like between Twitch, and Instagram, and Twitter, it’s like, I spend a lot of time on those social networks as well.
Rachel: So, I think that it provides this sort of brand trust when they see an influencer, because some of them spend more time with their YouTube friends than they do with their real life friends. You know, I’ve seen E-commerce brands virtually transform, I don’t know if you know the company HiSmile, they’re a teeth whitening brand.
Rachel: It’s it’s a photograph-able, it lends itself really well to Instagram, and there was this headline that I read, and it was a couple of 20-something year olds turn a few thousand bucks into a $40 million business, and within 18 months, their company was at $10 million, and they did a brand deal with Kylie Jenner when Kylie Jenner was on the rise, I think she was at 75 million followers at the time.
Rachel: Now, she’s well over that, but their company is like, it’s working. It’s really working for brands. I think doing it effectively is a whole other thing.
Michel: I think influencer marketing can actually better the customer experience if the person delivering the message can be trusted. Are celebrities trusted?
Rachel: Well …
Michel: Big time celebrities.
Rachel: That’s an interesting question, because apparently if you look at the data, only three percent of consumer products are sold, because of a celebrity endorsement, and this makes sense. You know, I gave this example in this, actually I did a TED talk for the first time in September, which is a huge honor.
Rachel: And one of the things that I pointed out was this makes sense that only three percent is of a conversion rate really, because if you look at somebody like, I take Jennifer Aniston as an example, and I know she is not using Aveeno everyday. I mean, she might, but I know that she’s got the money to have these like weird vampire facials, and you know, you might be doing that, and Aveeno, but it’s not just Aveeno .
Rachel: So it’s like, and I know that, ’cause I see your lifestyle, and I see your friends, and I don’t relate to her. She is not me, we are in totally different places in our lives, and so it’s like, if it’s an influencer that maybe is in also like the same sort of tax bracket that I’m in, and we’re looking for a good product that’s going to help the wrinkles go away, but they’re like, ‘Yeah, it’s a little bit more money, but it really works’, I’m going to trust them.
Michel: Last year, McDonald’s Canada reached out to me to help them with their national hiring day campaign, and when they first reached me, and we can link up the video for that, but when they first reached out to me, I was like, they probably have the wrong person.
Michel: Why are they reaching out to me? But then when the PR agency that we’re working with, they chatted with me, they were like, ‘You know, you’re like a micro influencer’. I was like, ‘Is that insulting?’
Rachel: What do you mean? They didn’t say nano influencer though? That’s the new word.
Michel: A nano influencer. How many?
Rachel: Yeah. It goes nano, micro, macro.
Michel: Is there less than an nano?
Rachel: No, I don’t think so.
Michel: What’s nano?
Rachel: I think a nano is basically considered a person who, I think it’s under a thousand followers. Probably in the 800 follower range. Like, they’re your everyday person who, because the engagement rates are high for smaller Instagrammers.
Michel: And, is it more authentic, and believable?
Michel: It goes with your point. So, influencer marketing is growing, you said by 2020 it will double.
Michel: So, it doesn’t seem like the topic is going away anytime soon, which is fantastic for your business. Do you think that some companies are still asking the ROI? What is the ROI of influencer marketing, or social media customer service?
Michel: For me, it’s perplexing that we’re still, some companies might still be asking that, but what are you hearing?
Rachel: I mean, I hear that question in every meeting I ever go to, and my response is, ‘Well A, who are you? Like, what brand are you? Are you Adidas, or are you Skinny Bunny Tea?’ Like, the price of what you are going to pay an influencer, also is determined of who your brand is. You know, what’s your culture, what do you stand for?
Rachel: And so that also indicates the likelihood of how many sales are really made. You know, like it’s easier to sell a very unique product that’s maybe you’ve seen on Dragon’s Den that’s new to the market, and everybody wants it, and it’s going to really benefit their lives.
Rachel: It’s really difficult, because I did a deal with an eyewear company, and this eyewear company, the promo that these influencers had to give wasn’t probably high enough. It’s really difficult for people to buy glasses, prescription glasses on the website, and the UX design of the website was not easy to navigate, so it all of a sudden makes an ROI very difficult to measure, because I can lead the horse to water, but I can’t make it drink, right?
Rachel: So, it’s the company that all those things need to be thought through before doing anything. Like, as soon as you implement an influencer campaign, you’re going to get lots of eyeballs, so everything has to be in place.
Michel: Got it. I want to transition to having a conversation about managing remote employees, your team primarily, if not everyone is remote. How do you build a company culture when your team don’t come to the same office as you every single day? As their leader, how do you do that?
Rachel: Well, I’ve taken a lot of different approaches to how I want to build my team. I think it’s really important to think of what’s important to you. You know, for me, freedom is very important to me, and also I’m a people pleaser a little bit. So, if I have people around me all the time, I’m going to want to make sure they’re always good, you know?
Rachel: Therefore, I’m not using my brain on things like actual strategy, which is what I’m getting hired to do. You know, so I really have to analyze, also offices are hella expensive, especially in Toronto. So, is that an overhead cost that I want to charge my client?
Rachel: You know, there’s all these factors, and is it that necessary? So, what I have done in the past, I have had a place where everybody joins together like a workplace, and I wanted to see sort of what the energy was like, and if anything, they were more stiff.
Rachel: I don’t need my staff to be stiff, I need them to come up with good ideas, and do the work. So then I transitioned to, well, how about everybody comes over on a Sunday, that was my thing that I did for about two years. Every Sunday, my door’s open to you, I’m going to cook for you, we’re going to have a nice time, I’m going to create a family environment, and essentially I want them to know that I care for them.
Rachel: And so I’m opening my home to them, and I want to hear, I want to get to know them, right? I want to know their goals, I wanna know what they’re trying to achieve, right? And I think the biggest thing about when you’re working with the staff is just making it so they care, okay?
Rachel: That’s at the crux. Like, a lot of times what we do now, especially in marketing, it’s not like a nine to five job, especially on social media, and working with influencers, ’cause they could be posting at all different times. We also work with companies in Asia.
Rachel: That’s a 24 hour now working at midnight. So, I need a staff that’s pretty flexible, and also cares. So, I did that, and then just recently I’ve transitioned, because I will say this, and what I’m learning is understanding my boundaries as a boss, and as a friend. So, the personal, and business, which I never thought that, that was a thing, but it weighs a lot on me, because I care so much.
Rachel: So, then I start thinking of these things, and then when you know too much, then you’re like, ‘Is this person stable to do this’ in whatever it is, and it almost takes away from the actual task. So, I’m learning that maybe what I want to do, and this is something I’m going to start trying to do, is every month doing a really awesome family style dinner with everybody in the company.
Rachel: So, once a month, if they can make it, and everybody likes to eat, you know, and I’d rather have that good experience left in their mind, than anything. That’s all I want is them to be happy. So, when they think of Hashtag, and when they see an email from me, that it’s not a trigger of, ‘Stress, stress, oh my God, Rachel, she’s going to be angry’, it’s like, ‘No, that’s my friend’. You know, ‘No, that, that person cares. Oh, she’s somebody that I have a good feeling when I think of.’
Michel: Speaking of food, let’s say you’re on death row. What would be your last meal?
Rachel: I feel like I must have told you this one time.
Michel: No, I swear you haven’t?
Michel: I asked this question to nearly everyone I meet.
Rachel: Well, I’m pretty simple woman. I like a good burger.
Rachel: I love a good burger, oh my God!
Michel: All right. You mentioned freedom. I recently was on a podcast with Patty McCord. She was the VP of HR for about 15 years I believe at Netflix, and Netflix, one of their core values is employee freedom. Along with that, what are some things that you are doing within the company, whether it’s strategies, or processes to make sure that your remote team is productive, because you have that separation?
Rachel: So, one thing I do is I always put in deadlines.
Rachel: So, I’ll never be like, ‘Hey, can you do this?’ I’ll always say, ‘Hey, can you do this?’, but within this time, can you get it to me by this time? And then I put it in my calendar. So, I go, ‘Okay, ask so, and so for this thing’, and so it’s just like an immediate one, two, one, two.
Rachel: I also now have started, I mean it’s all pillars, right? So, I have like one account that is completely managed by that point person. She reports directly to me, and then she has people that she manages. So, I just have to give the sort of ass, and then they also manage that, or they take it from me. It’s almost like, I feel like I run five companies at once.
Rachel: So, it’s about like you said, instilling that you have confidence in them, that you’re proud of them, that you appreciate them. In all my emails, I mean, because typically they’re doing really great, and they are going above, and beyond, and I am just like, like one girl, she’s on a staycation in Niagara Falls, and this client just came through, and I was like, ‘Do you want to help me with this deck? It’s a new account, it’s really big. You don’t have to, but I’d love to get you in on the ground floor’, and she was like, Yeah, let’s do it’.
Rachel: And it’s like, she is doing this, her poor boyfriend, you know? Another thing was sort of knowing what I believe in as Rachel, and what I stand for. So, one of the things is female empowerment. For the first three years, I’ve only hired women actually, which is a little bit controversial, but you know, I come from a background where I worked in television for years, and a lot of my self worth was predicated on the way that I look, and it wasn’t for my brain.
Rachel: It was for the way that I looked on camera, and I could say lines, and I was so devastated when I was let go from that job, and it’s all over YouTube, my story, and everything of how that happened.
Michel: We’ll link it up below.
Rachel: It’s quite emotional, and it’s just been such an empowering feeling to make things happen, or create things that have never been created, or will provide jobs to people, and just feel that empowerment from your brain, rather than just your body, you know? So, that’s been something really big for me, although I did just hire my first guy three weeks ago.
Michel: So, let’s say I applied for whatever position.
Michel: How would you describe your leadership style to me if I asked you in the interview process? How does Rachel David lead?
Rachel: I lead by example, and that’s why you see on my Instagram, it’s like midnight, I’m like, I’m still working, you know? So, I need them to know, actually, Gary Vaynerchuk, love him, or hate him. He, I think has taught me that you need to lead by example.
Rachel: So, even if I travel, you know, I am working when I travel. It’s listen, have fun, but get it done.
Rachel: Have fun, but get it done, I like that. Is that a quote already?
Michel: Well Jordan, you’re trademarking it.
Rachel: No, no, I want it! That’s how I’m gonna end my Youtube videos.
Michel: My last question is, if you were to hire any influencer, who would it be to join your team?
Rachel: Oh, well that’s an interesting question, because I don’t hire influencers, so I should just preface.
Michel: Let’s say, Hashtag Communication’s got to a point where …
Rachel: Where I was signing influencers exclusively?
Rachel: ‘Cause we basically work with everyone, all the management companies. A brand calls us, and we’ll be like, ‘We need to get this done’. So, my whole thing is that I don’t want to sign them, because then I’m pigeoned into, you know, say McDonald’s calls, and they’re like, ‘Oh, we have this great meat burger’, I don’t want to have a vegan on my roster that I’m taking a percentage of every month off their back end.
Rachel: Business plans are interesting, but basically I’m more of a consultant for, we’re all consultants for brands.
Rachel: So, we work with every influencer in the world.
Michel: So, if you were to interact with any influencer, have you ever thought like they would be really cool to work with, because of their perception online, or how they carry themselves?
Rachel: That is such a good question. I mean, obviously the Kardashians come to mind, because it’s just like …
Michel: All right. Which one of them? There’s like a little country of them now it seems like.
Rachel: Well, I’m thinking like, cause Kylie’s the most expensive, Kendall just got paid that 250 to promote Fyre Festival, 250,000, and then Kim, I mean, she’s like a legend in that world. She’s like the first selfie influencer.
Michel: What about Rob?
Rachel: Rob would be a nightmare. I’d be like, ‘Can you answer my phone call?’ I’d be so scared, I’d like, wire him the money, and be like, ‘I hope that he does it’. No way, although Kris would hopefully, hopefully.
Rachel: God, who would be interesting? I mean, Tekashi 6ix9ine is in jail, but you know that if he promoted something, it would fly off the shelves. People would be like, ‘Oh, it’s so cool, and it’s in the culture.’
Michel: The first thing that he promoted coming out of jail. That would be a big egg, some company would pay a quarter million bucks today? You could find a company to do that, right?
Rachel: I think he could probably demand, yeah, yeah. Actually I would say that, a quarter million would be about right. I think they’re even higher now to be honest. I think Kim is going to be asking you for at least a million.
Michel: Per post.
Michel: That’s insane. We, or I am in the wrong business frankly. You are in the right business. Guys, thank you so much for joining us. Everything that we talked about, the statistics, the links, are going to be in the comments section. Thank you so much for your attention, Rachel, where do people find you?
Rachel: Pretty simple. I have two first names, so Rachel, my last name’s David, and that’s on everything. Yeah.
Michel: Rachel David.
Rachel: Thank you.
Michel: Hey guys, I hope you enjoyed the interview with Rachel David. I’m absolutely committed to giving you education on three very important topics: Customer experience, employee engagement, and company culture. If you want some more of that information, click the subscribe button right now, so you can be alerted when I release my next video. I’ll see you next time.