[dropcap style=”2″ color=”#f50a0a” text=”D”]o you listen to customer conversations about your brand online? If so, how do you respond to those conversations? Listening on the social web isn’t hard to do.
What’s hard is creating an effective response system so that when something goes wrong (and it will!), a crisis can be averted, or at least resolved quickly and transparently.
Why is this Important?
Because social customers are on the rise and they are extremely vocal online, having no qualms about speaking their minds about a brand or a product.
Therefore, it is even more important for companies to be able to converse with them in order to meet and even exceed their highest expectations.
To do this properly, Brito explains that organizations must tear down the silos that inhibit conversations and growth within the company, and start having internal conversations (among employees and management), that will enhance the relationship with the customer.
1: Tear Down Silos and Allow Cultural Change
When employees or departments work in a vacuum without considering how their actions impact the whole organization (e.g., Yahoo!) the result is a lack of communication, displaced goals and vision and ultimately customer confusion.
So the first step to becoming a social business is to tear down silos, communicate transparently about failures, get everyone (including executives) behind social media, and then trust and empower employees to engage with customers through social media.
2: Adopt the Right Social Technologies
The next step is to invest in technology that allows for collaboration, open sharing across departments, streamlining of workflows and engaging internally and externally with customers.
Examples of such technologies are Jive, IBM, MS SharePoint, Box.net, Tibbr and Yammer.
Social listening is also an important priority for social businesses, as it allows companies to gain valuable insights about customers and hence prepare a suitable plan of action or response strategy. There are many good social listening platforms to choose from, including Radian6, Lithium and Meltwater Buzz.
3: Establish Governance Models
The next step is to develop policies that will guide employees’ use of social media. A social media policy or guideline provides a standard of practice for employees to fall back on when they’re using social media on both personal and professional levels.
In addition to establishing guidelines, there should also be ongoing training, non-competitive collaboration with other companies (to share best practices) and the creation of executive councils to help steer and give direction to social media use within the company.
4: Embrace the Social Consumer
The next step is to embrace social customers and learn how to work with them in a collaborative fashion. Today’s social customer has a voice that goes beyond his immediate audience—he is influential and willing to share both positive and negative brand experiences online.
Companies can collaborate with the social customer by hiring a social media practitioner whose job is to establish, foster and guide the conversation with social customers.
When hiring a social media practitioner, look for someone who is passionate about customers and the brand; is a strategic, analytical thinker; and has strong collaboration skills and a people personality.