I’m not an old timer but I’ve been in the business world long enough to appreciate the rapid pace of change that we’ve seen in the last decade. The rate at which the business landscape transforms (regardless of what industry you are in) each year is accelerating exponentially. Perhaps the most dramatic change that I’ve seen is the impact of social media on the relationship between business and customer.
I don’t know who first coined the phrase, “the customer is always right,” but I do know that it has almost become something of an immutable law for customer relations in the United States. Most businesses spend a lot of time and energy trying to identify the fine line between satisfying customers and still turning a profit. It used to be that the companies that were big enough to fund researchers and marketers were the ones that got ahead in this category. With today’s social networks (Facebook is probably the most important example) that door has been blown wide open and now the rest of us can have access to ample insight into what our customers want. Facebook (and others) has transformed the relationship between company and customer. And, if you’re paying attention, the changes can be extremely beneficial for those of us running those companies. Although there are plenty of advantages to this contemporary relationship, I’ve identified what my experience has shown me to be the top three.
The central thrust of nearly any new innovation (especially when it comes to Internet technology) is speed and convenience. Setting up a company Facebook page or advertising through Facebook allows companies to gauge customer reactions in real time. If a customer posts a comment on your company page you can be notified of it immediately. If a customer is directed to your site through a Facebook ad then web analytics can allow you to see that right away. This is invaluable. It used to be that the success of a new advertising campaign, store opening or new product launch would take weeks to gauge. Now you can know immediately and adjust and adapt accordingly.
Marketing and advertising through social media is remarkably affordable in comparison to the older methods we had to employ. In fact, a lot can be accomplished through venues like Facebook without spending a single dime. If you had told me that 10 years ago I would have laughed and asked you to leave my office. If you aren’t taking advantage of social media, you need to be.
I spent some of my early working years in marketing and customer relations and one of our big concerns was conducting research in way that we were able to get honest responses from customers. Many of the old surveys or questionnaires had a way of manipulating customers and yielding the results we already expected. The “open forum” nature of Facebook and other sites allows customers to provide candid feedback. In many cases, the feedback is unprovoked or unsolicited. Customers aren’t asked to post a comment; they do so by their own volition. That type of feedback was unheard of in years past and honest feedback is invaluable in determining the efficacy of your business strategies.
About the Author: Rick Delgado is a freelance writer who specializes in the latest social trends, technology, and social media. Rick often acts as a consultant to companies regarding the use of social media sites. He has recently been working with Vivint and other similar businesses.