2013: The Rise of Customer Service Marketing (and Techipedia’s New Direction)
The social media marketing landscape has changed in the past 3 years.
With intermittent signal, you’ll struggle to build momentum around your product or service.
If you don’t do it right, you might not even want to do it at all.
Social Media is an Answer but it’s Not THE Answer
Those of you who know me know me as someone who was an early proponent about the importance of social media. I was selling social media services before most of today’s practitioners even realized what social media is. My book, The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web, which was published by top tech publisher O’Reilly in 2009, was one of the first books about social media and was translated to German, Italian, Chinese, and Portuguese, becoming a best seller on digital marketing in a number of countries.
Social media marketing still is incredibly important, yet difficult, for businesses to embrace. Many don’t do it well, mostly because they are hiring an outsourced company with staff that doesn’t necessarily have the same passion in a company’s mission as the company members themselves. Most don’t really know what they want out of their engagement; they don’t set clear goals and set themselves up for failure. At the end of the day, social media is important. It can be difficult to do it right between the snake oil salesmen making all kinds of promises and the amount of noise out there compared to the amount of signal. To do it well, a company needs a full time person spending every hour of the workday (and nights and weekends too) engaging in online networking. Small businesses in particular don’t have the manpower for it. Most large businesses have several people doing it. Not everyone will gain their footing and give up altogether. For some, social media simply isn’t worth the effort that it would take.
Clients who have worked with some of the big names in the social media industry and have had miserable results have approached me. I end up being hired to suggest the appropriate direction or to fix the problem. But I realize that the problem may go beyond any social media marketing strategist. Unless you’re able to eat, drink, sleep, and breathe social media, it just may not work for you.
The truth of the matter is, people still think social media marketing is the answer to everything they need for their business, and that can’t be further from the truth.
Social media marketing lets you market (read: raise awareness) for your company using available online tools and platforms. But what it isn’t is an ideal tool for customer service, and social media marketers often are focused on marketing and not on support.
Social Media Marketing is Only as Good as Your Customer Service
Why do companies with poor customer service think that social media marketing will change the public perception of the company? It won’t. If you don’t respond professionally, you can lose a customer and maybe a boatload of other customers too. After all, a satisfied customer tells 3 friends, but an angry customer tells 3,000.
Moreover, we live in a real time society now, thanks to Facebook and Twitter. Being responsive everywhere, especially email responsiveness, is paramount. These days, an email that is responded to quickly is extremely well received. It also still, quite honestly, surprises people. A lot.
I’ve surprised many people with my response times. I also have seen that my promptness has caused people to come back to doing business with my clients again and again over the competition.
I want to continue to surprise people on a slightly larger scale. I want them to be excited to be doing business with you too.
Therefore, I announce the launch of Real Time Email, my new venture with the goal of working with a few select clients to offer real time email support. Email organization is my forte and it’s something that I can easily respond to quickly. Instead of being focused on ROI for programs that may not even amount to anything, we can focus on real problems needing real solutions.
Marketing often loses sight of that.
Companies jump to market their business without addressing communications internally and externally. That’s a fatal flaw.
Customer Service? That’s it?
Exactly. But it’s so much more. Let’s go back to the Cluetrain Manifesto. Markets are conversations. In many cases, those conversations need to touch upon the root of the problem, customer service, before they even think about marketing. If we’ve learned anything in the last decade, it’s that those conversations are happening at a very rapid pace. Now’s the time to outshine the competition by doing the responsiveness in real time.
I thought of Craig Newmark the other day. You know him, right? He founded Craigslist. Instead of electing to run his powerhouse, he decided to work behind the lines, solving real problems worth solving. This is what I aspire to be — and I even told him so.
Customer service often falls by the wayside because people are chasing what’s bigger and better. These days, it’s social media marketing. Social media marketing is put in the spotlight while the customer is ignored, but hey, companies are doing their best at that marketing so it’s okay.
It’s not okay by me.
I find myself more excited about going to work when I am solving problems for customers, the true nature of customer support, than when I am trying to figure out a marketing plan that doesn’t necessarily meet expectations.
Social media isn’t necessarily the answer. Those resources would be better spent with Real Time Email.
Marketing Works, but it’s Not a Silver Bullet
I remember talking to one of my colleagues back in the day and asking him how he addresses his clients as it relates to fulfilling guarantees and promises within social media marketing campaigns. He replied matter of factly, “social media marketing is a gamble. Our efforts may or may not be well received. We can do what we can and fulfill our end of the deal, but it’s up to human psychology to respond to our overtures.” Another one of my colleagues in the digital marketing space worked on an AMAZING charity campaign just a few months ago that I personally was really excited about. The collateral was great. The messaging was great. I observed it from the sidelines and it flopped. It failed miserably. It was then that I realized digital marketing is a substantial investment for which unless you have hundreds of thousands (or millions) of dollars annually (or a GREAT idea), you will have a hard time seeing the success you’ve invested so much in. Why pour all that money away when you can focus on doing a great job at getting a satisfied customer to actually tell 3,000 friends?
That’s my goal with Real Time Email. Together, with social media marketing, companies will shine again. My goal is to put your company in the limelight again to wow your customers similar to the Zappos experience (without really being Zappos).
Who’s with me?