Last week I had to call the post office because some very important pieces of mail are not finding their way to my mailbox. Initially, their response was to connect me to my carrier who assured me he is delivering everything that has my address on it. As you can probably imagine, that did not give me any comfort because I know there is mail that I am not getting. So I convinced him to escalate the issue to someone more senior. I finally was able to speak with someone who explained the entire process that an envelope goes through to get from Atlanta to Alpharetta. Together we brainstormed where the disconnect could be happening. We finally decided on a strategy we can work on together to trace where the problem might be.
I realized that the key to that level of customer service was to get me, the client, involved in the process of making things right. When something goes wrong the customer usually feels a loss of control which is very frustrating. But simply giving control back to the customer alleviates some of that frustration and enables the possibility of finding a mutually beneficial solution.
This is what the technology that powers social media has enabled; the ability for the customer to remain in control, whether a company wants to give it to them or not.
Customers have the ability to compare options, not just through marketing material or sanctioned talking points, but by seeking out peer reviews and subject matter experts. In many ways, this has shifted the marketing strategies and customer service approach of many companies. As opposed to appealing only to needs and benefits, companies now need to educate the consumer and be involved in their evaluation process.
This starts by listening to what customers are saying, not just about your brand, but about their needs. So many times I see social media monitoring efforts that are only focused on brand mentions, which is great if you are only looking to nurture existing customers and manage your brand reputation. But if you are looking to grow your client base and to keep your competitors from stealing your current clients, you need to be monitoring for terms related to services you offer and problems you solve. You need to pro-actively guide the Do-It-Yourselfers.
To do this you need to:
a. Be involved in the online conversations.
b. Make sure your content is easily distributable by community members.
c. Make sure you show up when people are looking for your services.
This same process can and should also be applied internally. In a production meeting this week for a training video we were discussing how all of the data shows that people want to learn at their own pace and they want the training to be interactive. The DIY culture wants to be able to be involved in solving their own problems, and internally that means interacting with their peers, easily finding relevant content and staying involved with changes that impact their jobs. Although social media technologies empower this level of interactivity, it is vital that a company establish a social media roadmap to ensure the success of such an effort. This roadmap would include;
- A vision statement that directs, aligns and inspires actions on the part of the key stakeholders.
- A clear compelling statement of where this is all leading.
- Identification of information silos within the organization that prevents collaboration.
- Vulnerabilities due to unauthorized use of social media. Strategic recommendations for implementing social media technology that meets the organization’s need.
Ultimately, social media technology has empowered the DIY culture and they are not waiting for permission to get involved. They are moving forward with or without permission or involvement. It is important to be aware but also perhaps even more vital to get involved.