I often receive compliments on how well SVS connects with fans and customers on Facebook, Twitter and the forums, and the typical ensuing question is, “Who handles your social media?” My unexpected response: “All of us!”
Our goals for customer engagement, social media, even brand messaging are not necessarily geared around sales objectives, but are very much an outgrowth of the desire to have a constant, ongoing conversation with our customers and our market. Since all of us do it, our product team sees every suggestion, our marketing team knows how our message is received on a human level, our sales team can communicate what resonates in the marketplace into the channels, and our support experts are in the loop on customer-experience trends long before they get emails or phone calls about them. And from my point of view, actively participating in social conversations with our community keeps my finger on the pulse of our brand.
I didn’t task our team with being connected because it’s a trend; I did it because our customer expects it. They’re talking, and we need to be listening – whether it’s on the latest social site, a phone call or when they reply back to one of our thank you notes that comes from my personal email address. It’s a new paradigm in which transparency is expected for every part of the business.
This is in stark contrast to the marketing world of the past, where it was the job of advertising to communicate in one direction with a crafted message that glamorized and even shifted away from what was real and true. These days, the truth is available at a click, and everything that happens or doesn’t happen is broadcast and amplified, for better or worse.
While many see challenges in keeping up with such a fast-paced and connected world, I see it as healthy for great businesses, since it holds us accountable to our vision of who we are and what our products and experiences really mean. Customers haven’t gotten more demanding in their expectations. They are just more aware of the perceptions others have of your store, your products, or your brand. For our industry, it’s a chance to shine. When one person has a great experience and spreads it out not just to a few, but potentially, to hundreds of thousands of others with shared interests in the market, that’s a big win!