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Relationship Marketing Is Good Business, but Don’t Take it Personally

I’m all about relationship marketing, helping clients to establish effective connections with clients for long-term success. However, I just had an experience that leads me to an important clarification. It’s not necessarily a personal relationship.

Let me explain.

Relationship Marketing Mis-Applied

Comcast recently added service to my neighborhood. Yay! The TV part isn’t exciting, but the 1GB internet speed certainly is. I couldn’t sign up fast enough.

Once the service was installed, my next task was to cancel my Verizon internet and DirecTV services. Verizon was easy. I called and within 5 minutes my account was adjusted.

Then I called DirecTV…

First I dealt with the automated service that, ultimately, needed to pass me on to a person. No problem. When Yolanda came on the phone, she was bright and bubbly. Ok. I told her I wanted to cancel my service.

Yolanda was not happy.

She asked me to clarify. She had me verify my service address at least three times. Thank goodness I know my PIN. After verifying all my details down to my mother’s maiden name, she was silent. Then she put me on hold.

When she came back on the line, she actually asked me “why are you abandoning us?” Really? This wasn’t a personal relationship breakup, it was the end of a contractual relationship. Trying to turn on the interpersonal guilt was silly and not appropriate.

About 15 minutes later, I think I have broken up with AT&T/DirecTV.

Healthy Relationship Marketing for Business

Your business marketing should have a relationship focus. You need to demonstrate to customers that you care about them as much as you want them to care about you. But don’t make the mistake in thinking that these relationships are personal. They are not.

As long as customers need your service they will use you. A good relationship will keep them coming back. At some point they won’t need you anymore. Don’t take it personally, it’s just business.

Customer Service on Social Media

According to a J.D. Power survey in 2013, 67 percent of consumers have used a company’s social media site for service. That expectation has only increased. Having a social customer support strategy is a must.

Is your social media team well-versed on customer service?

Many companies have a social media team that handles postings. Is that team trained for the customer service role?

Your brand’s response or lack of response to inquiries via social media are public. Others are watching. So an effective or ineffective response impacts well beyond one customer.

Have a customer service strategy

There’s no room for error. Customer service needs to be part of your social media strategy.

Decide who will handle customer service issues. That person or team then needs to be armed with the information to provide timely and accurate support. The more information and resources they have, the better service they can provide.

Once you have the team and insights in place, it’s time to create customer service guidelines. Address:

  • Standards for response time
  • Standard responses (create consistency)
  • When issues should be escalated to a higher level
  • Identifying constructive opportunities versus chronic complaints

Automate with care

It can be challenging to stay on top of social media support. The temptation to use automated tools is real. However, proceed with care. Replacing the genuine response people expect with automation can damage your brand.

Tools can help you to:

  • Provide immediate responses that set expectations for response time
  • Scan for brand mentions
  • Schedule timely information to proactively address customer concerns

Learn from your customers

Do more than respond. Get insight from customer inquiries. Are there common points of confusion that can be addressed in your social strategy? Does there seem to be a problem with a product or service?

Track inquiries and take steps to address any patterns or themes that emerge.  Understanding where customer dissatisfaction comes from enables you to improve .

Digital Dos on Social Media

It’s finally hot here in Northern Virginia. In case the sun has you feeling a little brain fried, here’s a reminder of important “dos” on social media.

Do you

Let your readers see your personality shine through. Share your unique insight and strike a conversational tone that engages readers. Be social!

Think before you post

Big caution! Whether you post on company or personal pages, consider how everyone you are connected to may react. Hot-button topics like politics, religion, and gender issues are all over the news right now, but think before you add your commentary. Your customers will likely see the post, even if it was intended for a personal account.

Know your goal, but have a relationship mindset

We all want to grow sales, but social media isn’t strictly an ad space. You need to build your brand reputation, generate awareness, and increase visibility of your business. Take time to build relationships online.

Care for Your Audience

You are not the only one with needs – your audience has needs too. In fact, that’s probably what motivates them to read your content. They hope you can help in some way. Focus your content on what will help your audience and write it in a way that they will understand.