“In the old days, customer relationships were about sitting down together, drinking a cup of coffee, and having the opportunity to earn that trust. Now with technology, how do we build relationships with our clients when we can’t see them? Call me old fashioned, but I miss that.”
Recently I heard a client talk about how customer relationships have changed with the advent of social media and the Internet. I thought he brought up a fascinating point. While customers have more options than ever before in terms of communicating with companies, is the way customers communicate with businesses somewhat disconnected?
While we may think we have to choose one or the other, perhaps the real purpose of social media is to build those relationships. Olivier Blanchard of The Brand Builder blog recently wrote a fascinating post about social media and relationship building. (Coincidentally he brings up the old fashioned cup of coffee too). He argues that the purpose of social media is about engaging the customers, not simply marketing your brand. “Social media is not marketing media,” he says. “Social should feel like a handshake, not a marketing message.”
Gary Vaynerchuk, author and founder of the popular wine blog Wine Library TV also emphasizes the customer relationship aspect of social media. Interviewed in the book Social Media Bible, he argues that social media is “about really caring about your user base: listening to them, making them involved, letting them participate, caring about their thoughts, letting them have a say in molding the direction of what you do.”
In the midst of this fast paced world we live in–being bombarded by ads, engaging in social media, and going through the routine of everyday life–we are human, and we resonate with companies that can give us the feeling of a shared relationship. We all have our communication preferences, whether it’s social media, a phone call, an e-mail, or a conversation over a cup of joe. It’s important that however companies communicate with their customer base, the focus is always on building that personal relationship.Tagged customer relationships, engagement, Holly Eckold, IMC, Integrated Marketing Communications, Interns, Messaging, Morningstar Communications, social media