Benefits of Talking to Customers via Social Media

“Social Media is here. It’s not going away; not a passing fad. Be where your customers are: in social media.” – Lori Ruff

Irrespective of the ‘noise’ companies may create, and claims they may make, customers continue to feel that companies do not ‘talk’ to them enough. It is possibly true, especially given the exigencies of running a business, managing several complexities and challenges simultaneously, ‘speaking’ to customers often becomes a good to do, rather than a must do. In ignoring this vital aspect, companies let go of innumerable opportunities to learn from their customers – existing and prospective, when in fact their feedback can do any business, a world of good. We believe that a very large part of such customer sharing now happens online, and it is important for companies to realize the benefits of talking to customers via social media, and other online channels. The harsh fact is that companies that ignore customers and their feedback via social media are setting themselves up for a damaged reputation and ultimately, failure.

In a bid to gain attention and attract more business, companies tend to remain focused on promoting their brand and products. While this is imperative, it is also critical for companies to engage customers in meaningful conversations – those that would lead to positive impressions in the mind of customers, which in turn could translate to business. It would be wise for companies to, instead, enter into conversations with customers that would give them insights into how better to work their brands, and what they can do to enhance their relationships with their customers, forging emotional bonds that would ultimately get for them customer loyalty and brand advocacy.

We are not saying that companies purposefully ignore the benefits of talking to customers via social media. The fact is that with its visibility, reach, and teaching abilities, managing and using social media can prove to be a herculean task for most. Some companies make the mistake of using it as a medium to find and attract new customers, which does not always prove effective. Instead, it is highly recommended that, companies understand the benefits of talking to customers via social media, and use it to enhance their reputation, gain insights, and feedback about their offerings, and consistently spread awareness about the benefits they can bring to customers. It may take time to master the art of conversing with customers via social media, but the benefits outweigh the effort and time invested. The first thing for companies is to recognize that there is potential in and benefits of talking to customers via social media, and then plan their strategy accordingly.

The biggest advantages of social media would be its visibility and reach. One of the many benefits of talking to customers via social media is that it is possible to see who they connect with, interact with regularly, what kind of things they share, what types of content they read and pass on, groups and events they may be part of, and other such information. By interacting with customers all these aspects would help a company to reach out to people similar to the existing customers and other audience, it engages with currently. This is a great way to gain more attention and spread awareness about a company, the products, and benefits of its offerings. Get your existing customers talking to you, such that they would be happy to engage with your company consistently, and allow access to their ‘social’ circle.

When a new customer engages with a company, they would have certain doubts and apprehensions. It is the onus of a company to handle the interactions carefully, since these interactions would determine the perceptions and impressions customers would have of the company, and would also determine whether they would remain with the company for long or choose another. It is vital for companies to check back with their new customers as to whether their interactions were managed well, or whether there was anything more the company could do to ensure that they remained happy. One of the many benefits of talking to customers via social media, or otherwise is to gauge early on in the relationship whether the company was able to please them, and what more it can do to ensure that the customers remain happy and continue to remain as customers. Such ‘conversations’ lend the necessary assurance to customers, and can prove useful in retaining them, getting better comments and reviews, and in receiving referrals. Customers want to feel valued and important – by checking on and with them, a company would make them feel cared for and could insure at least a few loyal customers.

As companies grow, they would gain customers within their local region, as also from overseas. Unless they make it a habit to speak with their customers, there could several reasons why these ‘distant’ customers could fail to connect and feel engaged. It is important for companies to understand the pain areas for their customers, and ensure that they actively work towards alleviating those problems by talking to customers. Talking is critical for engagement, since that is the only way for a company to understand the current thoughts, needs, apprehensions, and feelings of their customers. By staying in touch, a company would display its commitment to actively listening to understand its customers – an aspect that ranks high on customer priority list. One of the greatest benefits of talking to customers is that such ‘conversations’ allow a company to know how customers describe its service, products, brand, and other aspects. Customers that are happy with your company would be more than willing to ‘pen’ down their views on social media, and other online ‘spaces’. This would not only attract attention of prospective customers, but also encourage other existing ones to express their appreciation for the company.

The benefits of talking to customers is that it helps a company bridge the gap between what customers actually want and need, versus the company’s understanding of their requirements. Customers love companies that consistently make improvements based on what they say and the suggestions customers provide. Taking the time to talk and listen to customers will earn a company loyal and profitable customers, who overtime would become raving fans and brand ambassadors. Is your company one of those rare exceptions who make the time to understand and leverage on the benefits of talking to customers? If not, start now.

The great part of social media is that companies can still view and understand those customers who may have stopped engaging with them. There could be several reasons for which a customer may have stopped engaging with / following a brand, and one of the many benefits of talking to customers via social media, is gaining insights into the reasons for such customer behaviour. If you ask, customers would be more than happy to let a company know why they left, and what the company could have done better, and maybe even what it could do to get them back. Gaining back lost customers is great for business, and provides a serious boost to the image and reputation of a company.

Irrespective of the size of a company and the duration of the association with their customers, the fact is that customers of today refuse to be talked at, or remain mute spectators. They want to interact with and have intelligent and engaging ‘conversations’ with companies to get their point across, and want to know that companies are listening. The better a company can do this, especially via social media, the higher its chances of retaining existing customers, and gaining positive attention from prospects.

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