For the first time in our collective memory as marketers, we can’t control the conversation around our brands.

ROR-Book-CoverAt the South by South West event this year, I had the opportunity to meet Ted Rubin in person. I had recently finished reading the excellent book “Return on Relationship” by @TedRubin and @KatKRose. Meeting him at SXSW was all the more interesting because after all, South by is one of the best networking and relationship building event.

At the breakfast meeting with Ted, the topic of listening to customers and customer service came up. His passionate talk reminded me that many executives and companies have their marketing and customer service departments in silos. In the ROR book Ted presents many insight about the business of social listening and (social) customer service. Here are a few that I found most impactful:

Importance of starting with social listening
– If you truly want to heard above the growing social media “noise”, you need to “listen”.
– Listen to what your audience and potential consumers / customers are saying before you even put one word out there
– Find out more about what your audience wants
– Are you really listening? Chapter 6, Get Over Yourself, addresses the social fear factors.
– Transparency and authenticity are essential
– We have trouble hearing when our consumers are trying to ask us to change

How to get social customer service right 
– Businesses must developing a customer service attitude
– Responding publicly has another important, cost-saving advantage (p27). Other people with the same issues can receive resolution via your response. If you do it right, you will build brand advocates in the process.
– The trouble with exercising inflexible customer service with people online is that the audience “within earshot” is much bigger, and so is the potential fallout for your brand.
– Carefully select and staff customer service representatives
– Don’t stop your employees to interact on social channels on behalf of brands – teach them the right way to do it and provide them the guidelines / policies to manage various scenarios effectively
– Don’t be silent. When you are silent online , you are actually screaming “we don’t want to make the effort to build relationship or pay attention!”

I’ll leave you with a beautiful quote by Seth Godin – the first words you’ll see in Ted’s book.

In the connection economy, trust and relationship are the new currency It’s not a soft thing you do in your spare time, it’s the heart and soul of your business. -Seth Godin, Tribes.

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