We live in a testimonial economy where the currency is raw, honest feedback in real-time. People are going online before making dinner reservations, booking travel arrangements, and coordinating adventures. Taking it one step further, they are even hiring attorneys, doctors, and professional services based solely off of what other customers have to say. Peer-to-peer reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations are not new concepts. However, the explosion of technology, most notably social media, has made it a game changer.
The shift toward social has leveled the playing field and reviews are indicative of performance. Transparency and expediency is demanded, expected, and applauded. As a result, businesses can no longer hide behind generic press releases and lame statements for poor behavior. One negative review can put you out of business tomorrow. This should both terrify and inspire you.
“Customer service isn’t about telling people how awesome you are, it’s about creating stories that do the talking for you.” – Peter Shankman
If you care about your customer experience, you will elicit feedback- even the nastiograms. Customers are leaving feedback and reviews with the click of a button. Moreover, people tend to be incredibly honest because they are standing behind a small screen rather than in person. Marilyn Suttle once said: “Thank your customer for complaining and mean it. Most will never bother to complain. They’ll just walk away.” Feedback is gold and will launch you forward if leveraged correctly. Listen to the reviews and thank them for their time and honesty. If you messed up and were called out, own it. Be humble, transparent, and proactive.
Go where your customers are
Don’t expect to meet others if you aren’t willing to go where they are. For example, it wouldn’t make sense for an artist to network at a tech event (unless the artistry is infused with technology). Attending a craft fair would be better. Understand where your audience is and then go meet them. Each social platform serves a purpose and has different users. Social is not a one-size-fits-all media.
Social never sleeps. Users are online twenty-four-seven, three-sixty-five. Be available and be vigilant. Monitor online chatter regularly. Your level of engagement will likely depend upon your brand and size of company, but checking in daily should be a minimum.
Add value by showing that you care
True entrepreneurs are driven to serve. One of the best ways you can serve your customer is by offering utility, even if it doesn’t convert to a sale. Try maintaining a blog, holding a twitter chat, or creating podcasts surrounding your brand. For example, I have a good friend who is a health practitioner and maintains a weekly blog offering free tips & tricks. She actively engages with her audience even if some followers never become patients. Jeffrey Gitomer said: “Customers will want to talk to you if they believe you can solve their problems.”
We live in a world gone social (if you haven’t read the book, I highly recommend it) and we’re never going back. This is most exciting because the possibilities are infinite. Companies used to be limited to brick and mortar locations and ineffective spray and pray print campaigns to market their brand. That’s not the case anymore. Social changed everything, so embrace it because it’s not going anywhere. And if you don’t adapt, you’ll become obsolescent, only to be remembered alongside the dinosaurs.
How do you embrace social? Are you thanking your customers and hugging your haters? Leave me a comment or send me a tweet!