Sorry Brands, Like It Or Not You’re Going to Have to Start Talking To Your Customers

by Mack Collier

In Think Like a Rock Star I devote an entire chapter to giving brands a step-by-step process for responding to customers online.  It’s honestly the most instructional chapter of the entire book, but I wanted to do this because in general companies have no idea how to respond to customers.  Not only do they not understand how to respond to customers, they don’t understand how other customers view customer feedback.

For example, emarketer ran a study that was recently done that found that 26% of US internet users distrusted a fellow customer’s online review if it was too negative.  As customers, we have pretty sophisticated BS meters.  I can tell if a company is trying to BS me, but I can also typically tell if a customer is going overboard in attacking a brand.  At some point, a customer’s criticism stops reflecting poorly on the brand, and starts reflecting poorly on the customer.

You can’t understand a conversation that you aren’t a part of.  

This is exactly why the smart companies are the ones that are connecting with their customers online.  Because by doing so, they are getting a better understanding of their customers as well as the online conversation around their brand.

One of the main recurring themes in Think Like a Rock Star is the importance of why companies need to better understand who their customers are.  In most cases, there’s an alarming disconnect between who the brand thinks its customers are, and vice-versa.  That disconnect in understanding exists in great part because the brand and customer have no real interaction with each other.

Perhaps the one thing I love about social media more than any other from a marketing standpoint is that now customers have the tools available to them to quickly and easily create content about a brand, and respond to a brand.  So brands are being forced, for the first time, to answer those customers.  They are being dragged (some of them kicking and screaming) into an era where they have to interact directly with their customers.

Which is scary as hell for many brands today, but it will lead to big benefits tomorrow.  Because interaction leads to understanding, which leads to trust, which leads to advocacy.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Davina K. Brewer February 8, 2013 at 1:59 pm

It’s step by step, building relationships, offering value, getting people to stand behind you and your brand. Sadly too many are using these tools to talk at – just like traditional paid ads, direct mail, etc. – their customers rather than to them, or more importantly, talk WITH them.

I think that as much as anything will drive the next wave of social. I know I don’t revisit pages I’ve liked, follow many brands but when I need something and reach out socially, you better believe I want some response. FWIW.

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Jeff Reglin February 24, 2013 at 11:28 pm

I believe it is important to communicate with your customers because they are going to share their experience with somebody and it might as well be me. If they had a negative experience, it provides an opportunity to fix it.

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