Social media all about is providing advanced communication tools which allow information to travel faster than a speeding bullet. When a celebrity dies – the news travels fast. However, it’s important for business owners to recognize that the same communication tool that allows the world to be notified in minutes to the King of Pop’s passing can also be used against your business. Disappoint a customer these days and they might believe it’s their moral imperative to start a social media shit storm with your business as the target.
Now more than ever, customer service has GOT to be a top priority for ANY business either online or offline.
Thirty years ago, if you were a business owner and your staff offended a customer, you only had to worry about the 16 people that offended customer would tell about the bad customer service experience.
However, you could count on the fact that at some point in time – the offended customer’s passion would wane, he or she would stop spreading the word about the mistreatment he or she suffered at your place of business.
That was then – this is now.
More an more people are “connected” online now. Social media tools have made communication easy for all. It’s no longer just geeks and freaks online. The Pew Internet & American Life Generations online in 2009 report (PDF opens in new window – click save as if your browser can’t open a PDF), shows that that anyone who thinks that only the younger generation is online is sadly underestimating the impact of the internet. As a matter of fact, the biggest jump in online use is in the age group of those 70 – 75!!!
Unless you’re a bingo parlor – catering to am exclusively octogenarian crowd – you’d better be concerned about your “online image”.
A few months ago, I wrote about a particularly horrific customer service experience I was having with my pest control company. It’s interesting to watch the comment thread of that post. Truly Nolen’s director of marketing Barry Murray was the 2nd comment on the post. I give him credit – he was there to “defend” Truly Nolen’s online reputation within hours of the post being published. In addition to responding online, Barry handled my problem offline as well. He did so promptly and professionally.
However, the match had been lit – the fire had begun. Over the course of the next few days – the comments kept coming in. The thing is – that blog post is going to be there for as long as I keep the site up. Unlike a complaint to a neighbor over a backyard fence – this customer complaint is now a part of the company’s online DNA.
When Cath Lawson had problems with Sky TV, she wrote about it on her blog. When r’s friend had horrible customer service at the hands of a moron employee of Wells Fargo, Betsy took up the cause and wrote about it on her blog. Those customer complaints arem’t locked away in a file cabinet – they’re out in the open – on the internet – availabel for everyone to see.
On the other side of the coin, when a business goes above and beyond – social media users will sing their praises as well. That’s what Betsy did in her post Considering a Staycation with Hotel Minneapolis and Resaturant Max.
Ah, the power of the new web, where communication is becoming easier – more people are connected and word travels FAST!
Ever since the dawn of time, people have wanted to share their experiences. What was once etched on cave walls is now posted on blogs. Unlike the cave walls though, the blog posts and other social media communications are being indexed by the search engines and archived in the Web Archives.
Which is why it amazes me to watch as some in the corporate world are viewing blog as a source of lead generation and nothing more. “How many new sales can this thing generate?” seems to be the question of the hour. Your company blog is more – much, much more than just another form of direct marketing.
Social media is bigger than just the potential to generate leads. As Jason Cohen brilliantly points out, your corporate blog is a way to recruit more corporate cheerleaders for the company brand . The fact that it can also gather leads should be viewed as a bonus – not it’s primary function.
Of course – cheerleaders come at a price. The price you pay for cheerleaders for your business is exceptional customer service. Hotel Minneapolis would be well served with a corporate blog right about now. Betsy could have linked to it in her rave recommendation just as she did when she raved about Linmar Gardens.
Companies need to recognize that the social media connections built today can possibly last – well, a lifetime.