Monday, November 5, 2012

How to Maximize Social Media to Become Truly Customer-Centric

Thanks to Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and more, customers have a voice as never before. They are speaking up, saying what they think about products, services, and brands, and sharing stories of their experiences, both positive and negative, with others far and wide. As a result, every business with customers needs to think of communications on social media platforms as a critical part of the overall customer service experience.

GOINGSOCIAL: Excite Customers, Generate Buzz, and Energize Your Brand with the Powerof Social Media (AMACOM 2012) shows how anyone in business can tap into the power of social media to become truly customer-centric. Here’s how:

Welcome customer complaints. Public griping has plenty of advantages. When customers voice their complaints socially in real time, companies can resolve those complaints faster than via phone or email -- and reap a quick return in positive word of mouth. Plus, companies can gain from the gripes of prospective customers.

Be responsive and transparent. When publicly confronted with a customer service problem on a social platform, publicly make your intentions of fixing the problem crystal clear.

Get good at active listening. Giantnerd, the outdoor equipment company, continually uses its site’s social features to improve its products. Customer feedback on the smallest of details, such as the location of the toecap on the pedal, has led to changes in a bike’s manufacturing, which have led to increased sales.

Be helpful without being intrusive. Let customers talk among themselves, and join the conversation only when it can add value. Since customers tend to trust peer recommendations more than any form of marketing, empower members of your social circles with the knowledge and tools to lead on the brand’s behalf. The goal is to create a community of “super users”—fans who become brand advocates and platform moderators..

Be consistent. Whether they interact with a brand through Twitter, on a Facebook page, or by calling the company’s headquarters, customers expect to have a seamless conversation and to be treated consistently. Meeting this expectation starts with a well-documented internal customer service policy. That way, everyone--from frontline customer service reps and community managers to the accounting department--is on the same page and operating in a customer-centric fashion.

Be collaborative. Shortly after launching its first pocket camera, the Zi6, Kodak slowly began engaging on Twitter, taking note of what members of its new social audience didn’t like about its new product. Eventually, with the help of its Twitter followers, Kodak launched a major success—the PlaySport—and modernized its image, while rebounding from bankruptcy.

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Adapted from GOING SOCIAL: Excite Customers, Generate Buzz, and Energize Your Brand with the Power of Social Media by Jeremy Goldman (AMACOM 2012).

More information on CRM and social media can be found at

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