Did you think that it is always the customer who is at the receiving end of cleverly devised communication strategies and costly services? Think again.
Recently we have seen some colourful examples of how regular consumers are exerting their power by taking on board tools invented for brands and corporations. One British consumer who got fed up with being pestered at home by cold callers simply set
up his landline as a premium number, earning him money for every unsolicited call made to his house. Although this may in itself be a breach of regulations for premium rate numbers, the owner has generated hundreds of pounds in revenue over the last two years
and it sends a strong message of “turned tables” when it comes to consumer engagement.
An even more interesting example of consumer power is the British Airways customer who bought a promoted tweet to highlight his disappointment with the level of support provided by the company. His tweet was posted in the wake of his father’s suitcase
going missing and it read: “Don't fly @BritishAirways. Their customer service is horrendous.” The tweet was captured by news sites and was viewed and shared by thousands of Twitter users worldwide within the first four hours. The company’s response came after
another six hours, making a reference to the delayed reply being due to their Twitter feed’s “opening hours”.
(By the way – can we really use the phrase “opening hours” when it comes to Social Media? These channels are open 24/7 to the customer. Many corporations seem to want to squeeze the traditional concept of customer service into new formats and technology
– which is bound to fail.)
As we have seen time and time again, brand success is rarely based on zero mistakes. It is however a company’s ability to respond and rectify any mistakes, leaving the customer with a feeling of having received due attention and care, that builds
brand confidence and positivity. Because deep down, we all know that companies are run by people – and people make mistakes. But it’s how we deal with those slip-ups that matters.
As businesses, we need to wake up and smell the tweets. We have to realise that the consumer is a force to be reckoned with. We constantly witness examples of how people are successfully inflicting serious damage to brands, simply by sharing their
opinions across the social media channels. We can no longer raise our eyebrows in surprise at the impact one single person can have when it comes to influencing the social community. The power is at the fingertips of the individual – and many companies struggle
to keep up.
It’s not just about the social media strategy. It’s not even about customer service. It’s about adopting a culture where the customer is viewed as a powerful stakeholder and one who, if satisfied, will be a vocal evangelist for your brand. It’s about
knowing who the kings and queens are in your deck of followers. It’s about understanding the dynamics of social communication and interacting in a meaningful and personal way.
Unbiased praise from an influential customer will generate more positive brand points than any advertising campaign. Customer reproach will however, if poorly managed, sink your brand ship.
Don’t fear the power of the consumer. Embrace it, manage it and make it work for you.