A few weeks ago, my wife posted “what’s a good ramen place?” on her Facebook account. We love ramen and wanted to find out if anything new was out there.
She was besieged with a score of answers. She got the usual suspects – like Ramen Bar and Ajisen Ramen. Then we noticed an answer which was met with near-universal approval from her friends – Tamagoya Noodle House. Apparently, it was a small, obscure ramen place in Antipolo which gets crowded fast.
(How can we say no to that?! Resistance = futile)
And you know what? We went and just loved it. We’re now frequent customers.
More than ever, we have been consulting Google less and less and our friends on our social networks more and more. We are now doing social searches. Social media has transformed everything. Armed with networked mobile phones with high resolution cameras, experiences can be shared automatically and spread out like wildfire across multiple social networks. (this is a large reason why being an entrep now is so enticing – we do a good job and people spread it around)
I can attest to this in a very personal way. STORM has never had a marketing executive. How do we get leads? Word of mouth. These last two years have been record-breaking for STORM. Why? Social media-powered word of mouth.
On the other end of the spectrum, most brands are now on the social networks as well. Did you just have a sucky customer service experience? You can now post them on brand pages and broadcast it to the world. You can write an open letter to the President and post on Facebook. If it was an especially nasty experience, it WILL get spread and force a company to react.
The power has come back all the way to the consumer. Every person is now a powerful voice.
In this 2.0 era, there is now NO CHOICE but to treat every customer like royalty. We have no choice but to deliver truly authentic customer experiences. We cannot put parrots on our customer service teams anymore. We have to deliver on every promise and empower frontliners to truly HELP, not merely to placate. Just check this out for an example of how NOT to do things. How to properly do things? Check Zappos out. They are amazing.
I have a million customers! How can I help every single one?
Social media plus hustling. Answer every inquiry like a human being. You know, when I think of it, when I call to complain about a service, I usually just want to be heard and have the assurance someone is actively helping me out. What I hate most? Scripts.
(Oh, and if you have a million customers you can afford to hire a good team to take care of customer service.)
If we make mistakes, we have to live with the fact that they will be public – but we can show the world we can rise to the challenge of getting better (and the world WILL love you for it – they can relate).
Guess what? This forces us to be better firms. Forces us to create better products and services. Forces us to step up.
Big Brother is there not merely for the Carabuenas of this world, but customer experiences as well.
But defending our brand is just the tip of the iceberg!
Stop for a second and imagine…you can talk directly to ALL your customers!
That is an amazing thought. Think of the dialogue you could create. Brand loyalty. Are you the CEO of a startup? Think of what your consumers would feel like if you made friends with some of them over social media. Think of the free market research you can do. Think of the cross product marketing you can achieve.
It’s a brave new world just dripping with opportunity.