How was it for you?

In my previous post I talked about Referrals and Social Media. I made a comment about how a great customer service experience can quickly spread across the network you’re connected to. I also mentioned how poor customer service can do the same thing.

Of course the downside of this is that if you do a bad job then the world will find out quicker than ever before. It’s a great incentive for organisations to focus on delivering great customer service”.

Social Media is an incredible tool for getting the message out about your customer service levels. Imagine what would happen to your business if every customer had a great experience and told all their network about it through Facebook, Twitter or Linked in.

So now you need to review how good your customer service really is. This is a really big topic but it starts with listening to what your customers and prospects really expect of your organisation.

You can even conduct this research through Social Media by using the questions feature of Facebook, the Polls feature of Linked in and other tools like Survey Monkey or PollDaddy.

Once you’ve got your research results you’ll then need to conduct an honest analysis of how often you meet those requirements.

In the process, you’ll likely find some areas where you’re over-servicing the customer by providing things they don’t value and you’ll also find some areas that are “nice to have” for your customer but are not economic or viable for you to offer.

Once all this is complete (and you need to take it seriously) you have a roadmap of what you need to do to deliver great customer service to your existing and potential customers.

So how do you get people to let others know when they had a great experience? Simple, you just ask them. It doesn’t matter if your business interactions are face to face or virtual. You still have to ask each and every visitor to your company to tell others about how great you are.

It’s so easy to kit out your website and blog with Facebook, Linked in and Twitter widgets to help people share your content, products and services or just the great experience they had.

Of course, if you interact face to face, you can still help people share the great stuff you do by printing your Facebook, Linked in or Twitter URL’s on your business cards and other literature. (Choose those that work for your business).

How you go about changing the customer service culture of your business is a topic all of its own, but one that is worthy of talking about in another post.

Oh, and please don’t see negative feedback as a bad thing, it’s your chance to put things right and have a real dialogue with your customers.

Please leave your comments, thoughts and experiences of good and bad customer service. or just share how you purchased something on the back of good online recommendations.

Social Media – the ultimate referral tool ?

When I first started out in selling, it was drummed into me early on to ask for referrals. It made a whole load of sense and I did win business as a result of asking for referrals to other possible customers.

This was an example of Social Media at work in the world of selling. Do a good job for someone, ask them for help in finding others that you can also do a great job for, keep doing this and you have the beginnings of a pipeline.

In the new age of Social Media the basic principles haven’t really changed so much. However, we now have the benefit of the Internet to help us. We can tell our story to so many individuals and organisations using tools like Linked in, Facebook, personal Blogs and many others.

Recently I personally witnessed the power of Facebook referrals. My wife and I fancied having a meal out the other day and had recently seen a friend highlight their great night out at a new award winning restaurant. Guess what? We had a great night and posted a simple three line comment about what a fantastic meal it was. No doubt our contacts will read that update and some of them will think about trying out the restaurant.

Of course the downside of this is that if you do a bad job then the world will find out quicker than ever before. It’s a great incentive for organisations to focus on delivering great customer service.

Your sales team is sitting there ready to go. They number in the millions and you can find them in all of your social networks. Go talk to them.

(This example is a consumer focussed business, but the principles and practice are just as valid in the B2B world).

Linked in – Quantity or Quality ?

I regularly use Linked in and am connected to a broad range of individuals. I’m always looking to connect with relevant people with whom I have an existing relationship, am interested in what they have to say, that perhaps I could help in some way or of course, those that could help me. Sometimes I like to connect to people merely because I like them and wish to keep in touch with them and their professional career.

However, I regularly see people post updates that say something like “I need 20 more connections to hit 500” (pick a number, any number, as long as it’s a big one). It seems to me that their focus is on pure volume.

Isn’t it better to have a network that you can genuinely tap into for advice, to offer expertise, discuss ideas and contribute to the community, than have thousands of contacts that you don’t really know and with whom you have no real connection?

My view is that for a network like Linked in to add value to you and others, you should focus on quality rather than mere numbers.

Of course this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t grow your network. On the contrary, I believe that we all should actively engage in doing just that. What I am suggesting is that it should be based on a principle of giving as much as receiving. If this is the case you’d only connect with people where there can be some kind of beneficial two-way relationship.

After all, isn’t that the basis of any relationship? Should the virtual world really be different?