Forget Social Media and marketing. Toss it out the window. It doesn’t work.
At least it won’t work if you approach Social Media solely from a marketing mindset. It isn’t television. It isn’t radio. It isn’t print.
Instead, you should focus on something entirely different, not only with Social Media, but in everything you do in your business, both online and offline: Customer Service.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday I saw two commercials that indicated to me that big businesses are perhaps starting to understand this. I think most small businesses already do understand this but need reminders.
The first commercial was for Chase Bank’s Sapphire card, which promises cardholders that when they call for customer service, they will get a real person right away, as opposed to getting stuck in automation land.
The second commercial was for Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and focused on the company’s policy of authorizing any employee to fix a customer’s problem, regardless of whether it was in their job description or not. All employees have the authority to “make it right”.
Please understand, I’m not commenting on how well they follow through on this, because I haven’t done business with either of these companies. And I’ve heard both positive and negative about both companies from friends who have done business with them, but you could say that about almost any company.
But to have that focus on customer service, and put it out there publicly, is bold. In this day and age, the moment either of them falls down on the job, you better believe their customers will be taking to Twitter and Facebook to blast them. Overall, these companies are making strides as they seek to make a commitment to great customer experience and wear it on their sleeves.
And this concept certainly isn’t revolutionary, and has been known by smart business owners since the dawn of time. Even my friend Dave Warren, of Dave’s Ace Hardware in Wisconsin, understood this concept back in 2006 when he handed his employees a document entitled “You Are Empowered“:
As complete as this booklet is, and as many updates as I add, it will never have the answer to every situation that could possibly arise. Fortunately, every member of the Dave’s Ace Hardware team was hired for personality, intelligence and common sense.
In many businesses, problems are passed from one person to another like the proverbial hot potato while the customer helplessly stands by, shaking his head in disgust. In most cases, a fair solution could have easily been found by the first person the customer came in contact with.
In all instances, you have my blessing to handle any customer service issues on your own. The only requirement is that you treat each customer as you would want to be treated “if the tables were reversed”. Sometimes it takes an investment in time or money to maintain our reputation for extreme customer service. I am willing to make that investment.
You can be assured that I will publicly support any special level of customer care that you deem appropriate. In the rare event that my true opinion of your action differs, I will only share that with you in private.
Should an appropriate resolution to a specific situation not be readily apparent, then and only then, should you refer the issue to a manager. Dave’s Ace customers have come to expect a higher level of service from our more empowered team members. Let’s not let them down.
Dave get’s it. Do you? Are you willing to go as far as Dave, Chase, and Enterprise have gone?
Oh, and by the way, that whole marketing thing? Remember, word of mouth is your best friend. Treat those customers right, and they will take care of that for you, and Social Media will be part of the mix. Be social, provide great customer service, and the marketing will follow.
As an aside, head over to Enterprise’s Facebook page and check out the Enterprise Way tab. There you’ll find a great series of commercials and videos which highlight their values, particularly in relation to their customers and employees. They really seem to do a great job of using Social Media for Customer Service, rather than being overly marketing-centric.
How are you providing great customer service and customer experience? Are your customers talking about you and telling others about you (in a positive way)? How are you using Social Media as part of the overall equation?
- Small Business Tip Tuesday: Just Speak Up and Ask! (inklingmedia.net)
- Propose Your Own Solution to Customer Service to Get What You Want [Customer Service] (lifehacker.com)
- Using Social Media for Customer Service – Best Practices for Doing it Right (customerthink.com)
- How to Make Customer Service Matter Again Part 2 (briansolis.com)
- Eight Social Media Trends for 2012 (spinsucks.com)