Each year the percentage of companies using social media as a means of engaging with customers increases.
If you don’t have a Facebook and Twitter account for your business, it’s time to jump on the bandwagon or be left in the dust.
More important than simply opening social media accounts, however, is understanding how customer engagement with social media has permanently altered the way businesses interact with customers.
How Social Media Changed Customer’s Attitudes Towards Business
Unlike phone and email services which were used widely by businesses before finding their way into individual homes, social media got its start at the grass roots level and embedded itself firmly in the habits and expectations of consumers long before big business realized how it could benefit from social media marketing.
For this reason, customers, not businesses, were the ones to define the rules and shape the understanding of how social media could and should be used. Customer engagement with social media is on the terms of the individual, not on the terms of large companies, meaning that you have to play by the rules if you want to succeed.
The rules include listening to customer opinions, taking them seriously, and responding quickly and meaningfully to feedback. As more and more of your customers expect to be treated this way, they’ll be less and less tolerant of failures on the part of businesses to live up to customer service expectations.
How Business Operations Must Change
Because customers can freely and immediately share information about products and services, businesses can no longer hide problem areas. Instead, they must be ready to immediately address customer concerns.
Failure to do so will result in overnight disaster. (Just ask Domino’s.) As you increase customer engagement with social media, recognize that you must commit to long-term involvement with customers as well as to company transparency in order to win loyalty and build consumer trust.
How Businesses Can Benefit from Social Media
It might be a little frightening to think about all your customers knowing instantly about company warts and defects. But instead of panicking and trying to mask problems, try involving your customers in seeking a solution.
If customers know that you’re aware of the problem, that you’re seeking to fix it, and that you’re willing to listen to their concerns and suggestions, they’ll be much more forgiving of mishaps than they would be if you tried to hide errors.
Customer engagement with social media can be a daunting prospect to companies that are used to addressing problems internally before customers see them. But by using the benefits of social media to your best advantage, you’ll end up not only with a stronger business model, but also with more loyal customers.
How are you using social media to engage with your customers?