Why Social Media Tools are Effective at Developing Brand Evangelists

A co-worker was raving the other day because several hours after he wrote a post online about a problem with a Google product, a Google Product Manager sent him an email. Regardless of when and how the problem is fixed, my co-worker was thrilled to know that someone was listening and was now aware of the problem.

Initially, this seemed a bit strange to me. He went from being frustrated to thrilled, yet the problem was still not fixed. I started to point this out, but then it hit me— social media tools are effective at developing brand evangelists because they  confront the single biggest problem customers have with most company customer support and PR efforts: often times no one at a company is actually listening.

Why is this so? Some companies are not listening because they simply cannot keep up with the volume of problems and requests. These companies actually do care about there customers, so they do occasionally get back in touch with an angry customer and fix his or her problem. This customer goes from being an angry customer to a happy customer. But for every changed customer, there are often thousands that fall through the cracks.

Then there are the companies who choose not to listen at all. Their customer service department is a mess, and no money is being spent to fix the problems with the department. The company is still selling plenty of products, so there’s very little incentive for them to change.

Social media tools available on the web today allow customers to communicate rapidly and on a very large scale. So the single disgruntled customer can incite a virtual riot against a company. Now that social media tools are available, the incentive for a company to start listening has grown tremendously.

The good news is that the same technologies that allow disgruntled customers to band together can also allow companies to hear from more customers, solve problems, and build healthy relationships. Companies can now manage the large volume of complaint requests or comments in a way that’s much more efficient. That means that many people are no longer being ignored.

When a customer realizes that the company is listening, something remarkable happens. The customer realizes that the company cares about what a single individual thinks. This is what turns an ordinary customer into a brand evangelist. As long as someone from the company communicates that problems are being worked on, even if that problem is not fixed instantly, customers will be happier.

So all of you managers out there… relax.

Using social media tools does not mean you have to show the public your company’s secrets or that you have to personally respond to every request from a customer. It just means you should keep an ear to the ground, and that someone in your company should interact with customers to really understand what their problems are. The result of this interaction is a customer that appreciates being listened to, and a company that gains a better understanding of what their customers need.

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