It’s important for companies to pinpoint and identify exactly who their customers are. After all, today the term ‘customer’ doesn’t simply refer to ladies and gentlemen that buy a product and vanish into the night—it also speaks to people we interact with on every level, including our co-workers, our peers, bosses and strategic partners. Even communicating a mission statement to the media counts as an exchange of information and energy with potential customers, all of whom you’re asking to buy into your ideas.
Today, companies need to learn how to adapt to customer service in the age of the echo chamber. Thanks to the Internet, a single opinion has the power to travel further, faster, and louder than it ever has before. And like echoes, our exchanges online reverberate. When you visit Apple’s App Store or any online retailer, one of the first things you probably notice is a certain amount of customer reviews, opinions, and comments. Typically, these user reviews are present and highlighted at the point of purchase, just as you’re on the cusp of a crucial buying decision. These criticisms carry a great deal of weight: Arguably, neither brand awareness nor advertising drive our buying decisions as efficiently or powerfully as word-of-mouth.
Customers have more of a voice than ever before. It’s important that we allow their opinions to be heard, and that we acknowledge their concerns. Relationships, conversations, and dialogues are all two-way streets, and it’s crucial that companies listen to what customers have to say – even if those customers aren’t the type of individuals (i.e. buyers) they’d traditionally identify as such. Moreover, every opportunity we have to interact with a customer is yet another chance to amaze them and create goodwill.
When it comes to online resonance, social media mavens often like to say, “it all comes down to number of shares.” Meaning, specifically, “How many Tweets did you get?” “How many Facebook ‘Likes’ did you receive?” And so on. However, it’s not that simple – doubly so when you consider that the basic principles of marketing involve frequency and reach. Even if you get a thousand Tweets or Likes on a particular piece of content, ask yourself: What happens if only 0.2% of those interactions reflect the audience that you’re trying to reach? What happens if you’re not able to capture, retain and successfully speak to that audience, let alone drive further meaningful action?
Today, it’s important to consider that the business of relationships is about engagement and empathy. What we call “customer service” actually plays into a concept we speak on frequently, that of The Relationship Economy, a world in which trust is the fundamental commodity, and the wheels of business driven by the relationships that you nurture and build.