Gary Vaynerchuk has written an excellent book called ‘The Thank You Economy‘ where he talks about the value of organizations engaging in social media in today’s environment. As I read over his book, he has some important customer satisfaction messages as well. Here are a few of the key ones I found in his book.
The Way it Was
In the old days, when people lived in small communities, everyone bought local. The store keepers knew everyone and vice-versa. If a business owner did something that irritated customers, the PTA would hear of it, the local union, the church group and soon, people would either approach the business owner to change or everyone would move to another close by vendor. In other words, there was a relationship between businesses and the customers that endured. Businesses got feedback easily from their customers and customers had a way to make their dissatisfaction, if any known.
The Age of the Automobile Changes Everything
Then came the era of the automobile. People could travel father to obtain goods and services. The small local stores began to be replace by big business corporate giants, some with hundreds or thousands of stores around the country. Gone was the one on one interaction between the owner and the consumer. Corporate profits and quarterly results became more important than listening to customers. Many people in our generation have grown up knowing nothing else. Companies could ignore individual consumers who complained because they didn’t have the ability to influence too many of the organization’s consumer base.
The Customer Service Center Problem
Even the establishment of call centers is an example of how companies made customer contact impersonal (editorial comment..did you ever try to reach the same person you spoke to at a large call center). Voice Response units direct users to which part of the large customer service organization to speak to, depending on the topic. Gary calls the reliance on automated call centers as bringing in a ‘customer service dark ages’. Customers are remote from owners and decision makers, especially when call centers are outsourced or located away top executives.
The Internet further Isolated Customers
With the internet, customers could now order on line. There wasn’t even a person to talk to at a store or a customer service center. Phone numbers were hard to find on websites. Email addresses were provided and response times varied.
Social Media to the Rescue
All that has changed with social media. According to Gary Vaynerchuk “Social media arrival was simply the catalyst for a revolution that was already brewing in the minds of consumers sick to death of feeling isolated, unappreciated and ignored.”
We know now that consumers, armed with blogs which invite readers to leave comments, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Yelp and other social media sights can raise the awareness amongst consumers that they are not alone with their problems. The new term for this is transparency. Complainers and whiners can find each other. As Gary puts it in his book: ” Suddenly, everyone who’s ever had a problem with a company can compare notes, work him or herself up into a righteous frenzy and build enough animosity via word of mouth to create a real PR nightmare.”
Social media has ushered in a massive shift. The people have the power now. Companies need to adjust or prepare to fail.
Gary goes on to explain in The Thank You Economy that Social Media can also be used to build ‘brand equity’ and ‘relationship with your customer’.
Organizations should really think about how they have shifted from easily gathering customer feedback to making it difficult. Social Media is a way to embrace the customer again. How is your organization adapting to the ‘power of the consumer’?
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