We were watching The In-Laws (the original) the other night. There's a scene where Sheldon's wife is at the bank. She walks up to the teller. The teller knows her. They start talking about life stuff that they know about each other for a couple of minutes before getting to the reason why Sheldon's wife *is even at* the bank. I haven't been inside of a bank in months. The last time a teller knew me was – never. But it did used to happen. I remember it happening with my mother and grandmother.
And that personal banter between the bank teller (an ambassador for the bank/brand) and the customer is what *could* happen every day in social media. It's not a new concept. But it's so different from shooting ads out into a stream (or on TV, radio, billboards, print, direct mail, etc. etc.) that businesses fear this kind of discourse rather than embrace it. Let the people who work for the company interact and engage with people directly. The problem is that unlike the bank where the customer is in something like a controlled environment immersed in the brand – in digital networking, it's wide open. Which is why Quality Control and Education are probably as important to brands as the listening and engaging tools that they invest in.
So before you invest in a relationship with a social media guru, you might want to engage them in conversation first.
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May 17, 2010
Nothing can ever replace personal customer service. When folks walk into our office & are greeted by their first names or when we recognize their voices on the phone, the fact that they are amazed by that always astonishes me until I realize that in this era in all the new modes of communicating with each other; many, many have lost the ability interact personally with their customers. It’s nearly a lost art!
Does it seem that in this time of instant gratification the art of building business relationships with our customers is lost? It seemed in the race to get the customers business and put the ‘numbers up on the boards’ we left out the customers. I’ve read and seen personally that many of the biggest ‘deals’ one makes have not simply occurred in the week prior to their ‘signing’. The relationship was cultivated and developed over time. I am watching with keen interest in how social media plays will play out out into this and possibly enhance it.