Engaging The Most Important Audience…Customers

Customers want to talk to a real person. A Customer Can Use the Ration Books of the Whole Family. But the First Thing She Will Want to Know When She Buys Pork Chops, Pound of Butter or a Half Pound of Cheese Is - "How Many Points Will It Take?" 1941 - 1945

What happens when you call a company and you reach an automated response?

You immediately tell yourself to buckle in for a ride and a wait. You navigate a maze of torture before you finally reach someone. From time to time the automated attendant will jumble what you say, and you’ll get lost in the labyrinth with no way back. The times when you call a company and actually get a person the first reaction is “Wow! A real live person!”

Customers are the lifeblood of a company. Frustrate them and they might refuse to do business again. Wow them and they’ll be singing praises. Customers are no longer faceless people who drive a company’s bottom line. They are partners with a voice. And an avatar.

Some of the most successful companies are now providing great service by utilizing social media to engage customer concerns and praises. It’s a way to engage customers directly to share information quickly and publicly. Companies that are executing customer service well are using a combination, if not all of the social media platforms available. We’re seeing companies utilize Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, blogs, and Tumblr to varying degrees of success. The best companies are using them to provide engaging content and actively monitor conversations. How? Read on:

Lend a human voice. If leveraged correctly, social media can create a distinct company voice. Customers would rather interact with a business that engages people with fun and interesting content over a company that use social media to report earning figures. To ensure a consistent voice, make sure to understand what your company represents. Select three adjectives that describe your company (e.g. whimsical, informational, old-fashioned), and use these adjectives to guide your copy and presence while addressing issues with a personal touch.

Build loyalty through transparency. Companies make mistakes. Through social media, these mistakes can be turned into successes. Social media allows for a quick apologies. More often than not this will garner admiration from even the most frustrated customers. One of the best ways to lose customers is to not admit mistakes. Social media provides a direct and quick avenue for companies to reassure customers.

Morph customers into evangelists. Engage with contests, bantering, quizzes. Convert customers who were just looking to purchase into people who want to talk about you. Awesome service combined with interactive activities will prompt customers to interact and spread the word. Quirky provided a Black Friday campaign on their Facebook page and nearly quadrupled their fan count overnight (If a person “liked” the page and signed up for the sweepstakes they would get a free $5 gift card). This push came from a pool of loyal customers who passed along the deal and spread the word to their friends.

The X-Factor. You never know what will spark conversation and go viral. A funny post can go a long way. Information that you didn’t initially think was meaningful can become meaningful. Even a little mistake can do wonders. As seen in 2010, an American Red Cross employee accidentally posted a tweet about imbibing on beer. With a little push from Dogfish Head, this little accident brought in a surge of blood donations and monetary donations after the mistake was embraced.

Not every social media platform is ideal for every company. Find out what works for you and listen to how your customers communicate. Once you find out, target your audience and make them your best representatives.


Christopher Tran is a New York transplant by way of San Jose, California. His experience engaging community and clients through the use of social media spans the nonprofit and government sectors in addition to current position at a NYC based start-up.   On a personal level he’s aspiring to find the perfect balance between working, brewing beer, eating, and searching for the perfect burrito in New York City. You can find him at his blog and on twitter @tealsharkie.