By Carrie Tylawsky Social media has paved a road not previously taken: it allows brands to engage directly with consumers, thereby creating extended relationships. As social shifts to become more personal, efficient, and easily accessible, the conversation expands beyond brand-to-consumer and opens a dialogue between multiple players. In response to this changing landscape, consumer expectations grow--and brands must rise to meet the challenge.
Customer Service vs. Customer Relations
For years, consumers have dealt with customer service teams. Today, they expect to interact with customer relations. It's no longer acceptable to provide a phone number that will put consumers on hold for three hours while they fume silently and are ultimately told that they'll receive a rebate in the mail in six to eight weeks. There is no such thing as a "silent" consumer anymore.The average consumer has 120+ friends/followers within his or her network. The fastest way to alter a brand's reputation is by identifying this major change in customer service models.
Fliers vs. Infographics
When I walk down the street in New York, my focus is forward; I never take those fliers that are constantly shoved in my face. That's how consumers view filers: as useless information that will clutter their bags and eventually tossed out. On the other hand, consumers will click on an article that they find enticing. This is where the increasing relevance of value-based content comes in. Brands can no longer get away with loud, showy ads that get in the way (think of them as the pushy fliers of the internet). To engage a customer, brands must provide content that is readable and shareable.
Constrained vs. Flexible
Perhaps one of the biggest (but also potentially the most intimidating) opportunities is the chance for brands to use social media as a forum for product development. They can showcase a new product, release it for a limited time, and gauge the success based on their community's feedback. This has become commonplace enough that the community is starting to expect it--and if there is a major product flaw that they bring to a brand's attention, they expect that to be fixed. Through a carefully constructed feedback funnel, brands can make these changes and prove to their community that they're listening. If not, they're liable to be labeled as old-fashioned, unable to change, and unwilling to meet new trends as they arrive.
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