Despite the recent buzz about social media, it is not a particularly novel concept in terms of conventional top-down marketing. What is new about social media is the pronounced use of technology and workflow practices, in this context social media is being employed as a new paradigm; a new way of looking at the relationship and the firm through the lens of new technologies. In today’s market environment, technology, the advent of ubiquitous broadband internet and economic circumstances have presented businesses, governments and individuals with unique opportunities to communicate directly and engage deeply and form profound bonds between individuals, businesses and between companies and customers. So that these engagements become relationships, which become deeper with time and persist beyond a single one-off transactions.
Technologies and the new landscape
Today’s technologies in mobility, in transaction processing and the ever ubiquitous Internet have can and will change the commercial landscape forever. Social media platforms like Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter have provided new opportunities for individuals to connect communicate and interact and have changed the game for commerce forever. Engagement and trust is even more necessary than ever in the era of ecommerce and micropayments and the clicks of ecommerce surpasses the bricks of conventional retailing.
The Cultural Imperative
Given this new commercial environment, responses to inquiries must be rapid and correctly handled; the customer experience must be well received and properly lead and managed. Brand reputation becomes a treasured if intangible asset. The injury of brand and reputation can be because a customer will not only stop doing business with you but can and will tell 16 of his closest friends of his experiences. There are plenty of studies and documentation to prove it.
Here where the rubber meets the turf… it ultimately becomes about building loyalty by design. Businesses must concentrate on forming those deep and enduring relationships with their customers to retain them, to enable those customers to see that they are genuinely valued and want to identify and affiliate with the brand and ultimately become an advocate for the brand. There is nothing like “word of mouth” advertising and the correct use of social media can make that happen with little cost to the enterprise.
What is the correct use of social media?
In order to do this correctly, we must understand the common message of what this new paradigm means. Along with the adoption of social media there must be a cultural imperative. The culture must also be proactive and customer centric this can mean nothing short of a change in culture. It requires an elevation of what can be termed “customer experience “and commitment for every executive, technician, every secretary and clerk in business to contribute and reinforce that imperative.
It requires the enterprise to be wildly proactive about solving a problem, selling the products or develop a solution, It means getting both peer and customer and vendor to effect a positive outcome; commitment and buy in that must made by everyone from chairman on down to the cleaning staff.
Politics and governments are not immune
It is not limited to the commercial arena, Federal, state and local government must also use social media couple with technology to be responsive to their constituencies. in the 2008 election cycle it was determined that President Obama was elected to his position largely due to his use of social media; particularly the use of social media to solicit contributions and raise brand awareness. There are initiatives within many local governments to report traffic congestion and street maintenance issues. Some localities are using social media to solicit feedback from communities about zoning and building issues. The Military recognized the use of social media to allow soldiers overseas to communicate and engage more deeply with their loved ones. The cost was virtually nothing but a change in policy ( a change in culture) but the benefits in terms of troop morale was incalculable.
Social media when coupled with the technologies and ubiquitous internet provides the means to improve bottom lines and in turn, provide better and much more personal service, get rapid feedback and can create many market opportunities to create more transaction volume from a loyal and consistent following, With that said, social media must be also accorded with a strong proactive customer experience policy and mindset; perhaps even elevation of the customer experience and relations to a c-level position. Another suggestion would be to drive the leadership of customer experience as deeply down the hierarchy as possible. This would involve employee training and cultural changes to insure that customer engagement is always positive and problems are remedied as rapidly as possible.