A Business/Customer relationship is identical to the rest of the relationships in your life when it comes to communication. If my girlfriend and I didn’t listen to each other, she would have moved on to some other stud by now. If I don’t pay attention to my dog when he wants to go out, he would pee on my rug. If you cannot offer the customer what they want, you might lose their business forever. Would you like to converse with your customers but you only get feedback from 5% of people you do business with? 1%? And 0% from potential customers?
You need SOCIAL MEDIA! It’s a buzz word, it’s fun, it’s what people are doing when they should be working, — but it’s FULL of people venting or gushing over the their experiences with local businesses.
When a customer loves a service or feels wronged, they won’t give formal feedback. Instead they will rant or rave to their friends. Social media services like Facebook and Twitter are full of users telling everyone about their good and bad experiences. All you have to do now is listen.
Reacting to The Positive
It is possible to monitor twitter for any mention of your business’s name; even setting up automatic email notices when this happens. What better way to turn your customers into fans than reward the raving customer with a personalized “Thank You For Your business” or some sort of exclusive deal.
A few months back my ballpoint pen blew up in the wash and ruined every pair of slacks I had. Slack-less, I went to the store to buy a new pen. I upgraded to a new comfortable, textured grip, UniBall Signo 207 gel pen. I wrote briefly about my experience on twitter and within a half an hour I got a personal message from a UniBall representative thanking me for the purchase and guaranteeing the UniBall would leave my britches ink-free! I am now officially a fan of UniBall. I follow their feed online and get regular updates of their newest products. Becoming a presence online has the ability to create loyal patrons, willing to spread your word farther and faster than before.
Reacting to The Negative
Unfortunately, negative experiences are out there too, and tend to travel faster than the ‘Feel Good’ news. There is an adage in business that one unhappy customer tells 10 to 15 people while one happy customer only tells 5. With social media these numbers can easily reach 10’s, 100’s or 1000’s of people. Before anything gets out of control, you have a chance to saddle the bad word-of-mouth about your business and spin it for the better. One of the best strategies for handling negative talk about your company is to acknowledge the customer’s experience. Just showing that you are willing to reach out and listen can change someone’s mind about doing business with you again.
In one way or another, chances are, your company could benefit from Social Media. A great example of a company making a name for themselves this way is Zappos.com. Zappos.com’s rise to success through Social Media has been well documented. You can read more about their company wide use of twitter and transparent brand tracking online. LinkedIn, Ning, Twitter and many more websites are increasingly making their way into news and pop culture, you may not be able to ignore their benefits for long. As you continue to surf the web, you will notice more and more buttons like the ones I have placed below. Links to ‘become a friend’ or ‘become a connection’. These are other companies who are already taking advantage of Social Media. See how it works for them and consider if it is right for you.