There are times when people will respect and admire you for going off the beaten track.
However, in this digital marketing age when people flock to social media channels, it is a good idea to swim in the social sea and interact, especially when it is about delivering a memorable customer experience.
The simple reason to dive into social media is that people are there and how you react or proact creates a perception about you, possibly translating into sales.
Bridging the Gap
Like it or not social media is too big and ubiquitous to ignore. 3.9 billion social media users account for about 49% of the world’s population.
Marketers and salespeople as well as product developers proceed on assumptions based on what they perceive the people want and what fits in with manufacturing convenience or sales convenience.
- Listen to social chatter.
- Ask questions.
- Request opinions.
- Ask customers to write to you about what they think.
You will be surprised at how customers’ perceptions can be at variance with your assumptions.
You can effectively tailor your approaches and campaigns on social media to be in consonance with what customers expect.
Naturally, this raises customer experience to greater levels.
The Vending Machine Analogy
One Frenchman recalls that in France, especially in towns and villages, it is customary for people to talk in stores and greet the owner and the owner to greet customers.
Over time they get to know each other by name and the shop owner knows each customer’s preference.
Relations are built. Loyalties ensue.
The customer knows he gets what he wants. The shop owner knows he has a fixed number of customers and his products will sell. Possibly they will recommend him to others.
The short inference:
- Business is more about people and interactions
- Strong connections build trust and ensure continuity of business
Now take modern vending machines. You put in money, get your item, and walk away. You go to a supermarket. You checkout at the POS and that’s it. You buy online, a robotic, dehumanised process.
In all these cases:
- Lack of human connections means no guarantee of return purchase except for the sake of convenience.
- Hard to find people recommending vending machines or POS at malls unless it is for prices or deals.
- Loyalty does not ensue. You do not build relationships when transactions are impersonal.
People Build Businesses
Take the case of Sunita, a woman with a penchant for fashion. She has knowledge of fabrics, dresses, and style.
She shared her knowledge and helped those in her online social circles to choose the right sarees, dress materials, and dresses with expert advice.
Pretty soon, they encouraged and egged her on to introduce her own line of dresses.
She started off by handpicking dresses and offering them on social media. They were lapped up and pretty soon she had a full-fledged online store.
Here, customer experience is a top-down thing.
She first built the experience and then converted it into customers. How can you be inspired by this story?
A typical case scenario:
- Post informative notes about products or services or anything related.
- Watch and observe reactions. You will get inspiration to develop new products or modify existing ones.
- Launch it on social media
- Make it a point to state that the mods are user-inspired. It shows you appreciate and value your customers and have gone to the extent of incorporating their expectations into your products or services. Does that make them happy? You bet.
This leads us to the negative things people, at least some of them, are likely to say.
Feeding Off Negatives
One mindset of management executives is that they are trained to “be positive” but this could mean ignoring negatives or glossing it over.
Social media gives you a great opportunity to burst the negative bubble.
You could hold special sessions or simply invite people to voice what they find negative about your company, people, attitude, and products. Something positive may flow out of it.
- Customers feel encouraged to come forward with forthright and frank opinions.
- Thank them.
- Possibly evaluate everything and try to transform whatever is possible.
- Post on social media of what you have done to take care of negatives. “Do you people ever listen?” is what customers say. So tell them you do and make them happy that you have not only heard them but you have also acted and thank them. People do like gratitude.
“Money for nothing”…. And words are cheap
So sang Dire Straits, and social media is a good platform to distribute goodies for nothing.
Who does not like freebies or discount vouchers or coupons or suchlike where they get more for less or for nothing?
Social media lets you adopt a personalised yet business-like approach to making offers and offering incentives to buy or to promote your products.
- First, build relationships and offer praise
- Slowly nudge in offers on social media and say it is exclusive to them for all that they have done for you.
- If the benefits you offer are attractive enough you get people to buy or recommend your offer to others. They gain. You gain. It is a simple, essential law of life. You may think that simply saying thank you is enough. It is not. Give something concrete, give away something. For free.
Not all people are on ego trips, expecting an ego massage. Many are practical and expect to get something for their trouble and when they get something free it makes for happy customer experience and loyalty.
Look at the social media pond. You have Facebook. Then there is Instagram. Pinterest cannot be ignored. Whatsapp is a must.
Do you know just how much time it takes for you to log in to each account on each channel, keep track and respond or post something new?
Add it. It will amount to a major chunk of your time.
You might then assume that once a week attendance will do.
It will not. Social needs immediate attention. Whether it is an inquiry about a product or complaint, people want everything fast, here and now.
Like it or not you will have to spend a substantial time every day on social media.
You could have something like an omni-channel solution that will present all channels on a single screen to let you know of any new activities that need immediate attention.
Still, the important thing is the time required for a speedy response. This means it takes you away from more pressing business matters.
Resolve it by letting someone or, better still, a social media marketing agency handle it.
That way, they do all the “legwork” and you intervene and speedily too, whenever required while taking care of money-generating business matters.
You deliver a happy customer experience and your business grows, which makes you happy.
Social media is just too much in the face to ignore. If you do, you do so at your risk.
The more time and effort you put into social media interactions, the more you get out of it.
Appreciate positive responses. Translate to tangible benefits. Be even more prompt in addressing negative comments.
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