I recently attended an excellent seminar presented by Mohamed Nasir, a business coach and consultant entitled “Social Media Network Marketing– what is it?”
In this seminar key benefits and examples were presented on how companies have embraced social media to deliver the best customer experience. Companies like Comcast, Marriott and Zappos have grasped social media by engaging the customer. Twitter and the use Blogs were used to collaborate and build customer loyalty that has proven to be a very powerful marketing tool. Below are examples from the presentation:
In 2008, Comcast (www.comcast.com) was struggling to shake the reputation of being a company that had poor customer service. Looking for an alternative that would not only reduce waiting times of customers looking for support on the phone lines, but also bring a community culture to the company, Comcast turned to Twitter (@ComcastCares). The company invited frustrated customers to send their questions to the Twitter handle and engage a staff of 10 service representatives to try and solve their problems. The conversations would give Comcast visibility as a company who was there to support their customers and allow customers the opportunity to get help in a convenient way. The shift in support vehicles seems to have worked. According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, Comcast’s score rose 9.3% in satisfaction since 2008—an increase directly credited to Comcast’s Twitter support team.
Comcast’s strategy of inviting customer complaints gave it a direct line to hear what their customers wanted. As the leader of your business, you can also use social media to learn what your customer wants.
Marriott CEO Bill Marriott gets the importance of social media. Often, customers may interact with a brand on a daily basis and never feel a connection with that brand because there’s no personality behind it. Marriott on the Move (www.blogs.marriott.com) is a blog by Bill Marriott
geared towards anyone who’s interested in not only the brand, but the person running the brand. His blog began in January 2007 and has covered topics ranging from the birth of his granddaughter to the re‐opening of a newly renovated Marriott hotel in Miami, Florida. Each post incorporates a story or fact the average customer would never know. Bill bridges the gap between a corporate figurehead and the customers who stay at his hotels all around the world every day by sharing his take on real‐life situations. The blog adds a face and transparency aspect to a brand that otherwise is just a place to rest your head while traveling.
If you don’t have time to start a blog personally, other ways you can add a face to your business include responding to industry‐related articles as the CEO of your company, starting a personal Twitter account or writing a monthly newsletter to send to your customers and post online publicly.
Zappos may be the most successful case study for CEO success in social media. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com, grew the company from $1.6 million in 2000 to $840 million in 2007. When asked what his strategy was for such staggering growth, Hsieh consistently touts customer support as his top priority. Zappos, and Hsieh himself, have done a superb job translating an online company into a customer‐service oriented community. Having adopted social media into their strategy early, Hsieh took it upon himself to lead the way, being an active voice on Twitter. Through engaging customers, perspective customers and the online community in general, Hsieh was able to cultivate a culture of personable service despite being a solely online company. Adding the additional platform of online customer service to an already established traditional model helped Hsieh establish Zappos as a leading distributor in the online shoes category.
So how does this affect business? Previously, a disgruntled customer had two options: call and complain to your customer service representative or not buy your product again and tell friends how disappointed they were in it. Times have changed. Now, one under‐satisfied customer can create havoc for your brand in a matter of minutes by blogging, tweeting and rating your product online. Negative comments about your product don’t even need to be substantiated in order to have a damaging effect on your business. But how does a company address this negativity and make sure that correct information is out there? By having an active presence in and monitoring effectively the social media world.