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Posted by on May 28, 2013 in Customer Service, Engagement, Featured, Social Era, Social Media | 3 comments

Creating Personal Connection in an Electronically Connected World

Social Media

In today’s technology-fueled world, where email, social media and other forms of electronic communication thrives, are we drawing nearer to each other, or further apart?

That depends. There are many digital communication channels available, through which there are proven methods to ensure that your customer messaging creates connection and loyalty.

First things first – Do you have a customer service strategy that guides your company’s use of electronic communication and social channels? Have you trained your staff to use email and social media to create stronger connections with customers? Have you considered innovative ways to create stronger bonds with your most loyal customers?

If not, here’s why you must do so immediately, if not sooner:

Customers Want to Feel Your Humanity

People are biologically programmed to create connections with others. As a result, customers create stronger bonds with human beings than they do with brands or companies. Email and social media can come across as impersonal and cold. The recipient can’t discern the sender’s attitude or demeanor with the usual visual and audio cues apparent in an in-person conversation.

To counter this, allow your social media team to write like they speak. Instruct them to keep a professional focus, but use conversational language and contractions. Don’t be afraid to use exclamation points and superlatives (“I am so sorry!”) to demonstrate enthusiasm, for example.

There are many digital communication channels available, through which there are proven methods to ensure that your customer messaging creates connection and loyalty.

Customers Need Personal Care

If you’re responding to an emotionally charged post or email, do what you can to move the conversation to the telephone. Send them a contact number to reach out to you (on social platforms) or call them if you have their contact information.

Challenging situations are always best-handled via personal conversation, which allows the customer to hear care and compassion in your tone of voice.

Customers Crave Authentic Connection

Social media, while seemingly impersonal with short updates and an all-about-me focus, is being used by smart companies to create personal connections. Train your staff members to engage as human beings, not through marketing-speak. You’ll create closer bonds because customers prefer conversing with people who represent your brand, not a faceless “brand voice”.

If appropriate for your brand, have your employees use first person language on social, then identify the responder with their initials or first name at the end of the post. (Example – “I’m so glad you let us know!  – EK”)

Do you have a customer service strategy that guides your company’s use of electronic communication and social channels?

Customers Want to Have a Voice

Consider setting up your most loyal customers as brand ambassadors, who are informed about new product launches in advance. Ask them for feedback on your products or services. Give them incentives in the form of free product or small amounts of cash, to share their stories and opinions with their social communities and on your website. Take them behind the scenes with invites to live chats and online events that let them talk one-to-one with your top executives.

This works because today’s consumer trusts the recommendations of other consumers more than they do a promotion from a company or brand.

Social media, while seemingly impersonal with short updates and an all-about-me focus, is being used by smart companies to create personal connections.

When you put in the extra effort to ensure that every electronic communication furthers your customer connection, you’ll benefit with increased loyalty and referrals. Start now!

 

 

Art by: indigo-moogle

 

Marilyn Suttle and Lori Jo Vest

Marilyn Suttle and Lori Jo Vest are the authors of the customer service bestseller, “Who’s Your Gladys? How to Turn Even the Most Difficult Customer into Your Biggest Fan.” Suttle is the founder of Suttle Enterprises LLC, through which she has taught thousands of people across the country how to have happier, more productive relationships with customers. Vest has been involved in relationship-based sales and customer service for over 20 years, most recently as a conversation manager for Organic, Inc.

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  • http://twitter.com/michpoko Michelle Pokorny

    Thanks for the post. The interesting thing as I read this – employess, IMHO, want all the same things.

    • http://www.savvycapitalist.blogspot.com TedCoine

      Michelle, you couldn’t be more right about that! What’s the difference, really? If we treated EVERYONE with whom we worked as a customer, someone who deserves five-star service from us – respect, honor, our full attention and our devotion to exceeding their expectations and needs – then I think a whole lot of the ills of our working life would slip away, cured.

  • http://www.savvycapitalist.blogspot.com TedCoine

    Marilyn,

    This post is just awesome – as I knew it would be! We’re honored to host this post here at Switch and Shift.

    You make several compelling points here. In the interests of brevity, let me focus on one: bringing an irate customer from social media (or email) to the phone as quickly as possible in order to give them a more human touch – so they can hear the empathy in your voice, and so they can feel how important their complaint is to this previously nameless, faceless company. As Tony Hsei of Zappos says, “The phone is the ultimate social medium.” Even though his company is a true pioneer of company-wide use of social (especially Twitter), they recognize the superior value of the phone. Food for thought for the rest of us, I hope.

    ***
    As you know, a few years ago, I read your and Lori Jo’s book, “Who’s Your Gladys?” which I continue to recommend to clients all the time. Congratulations on this month’s publication of the paperback version!

    READERS: you will love their book. You will learn some invaluable insights from it that you can apply at work immediately for improved results. Two thumbs way up. Buy it. Read it. Underline its best passages, dog-ear its pages. Buy another copy for a friend.

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