Ironic isn’t it? We live and work in a digital age, and the discourse about the power of social media to communicate with potential buyers and current customers in more effective ways reached deafening proportions in 2009. Yet a current poll running over on LinkedIn shows that 46% of the respondents thus far still think that the most effective way to gather customer feedback is in direct, face-to-face meetings. Hum… me thinks there is a disconnect.
Your customers and potential customers are sharing a wealth of information and insight about what they want – online. In 3 easy steps, here’s how you can begin to capitalize on the wealth of opportunity staring you in the face.
- Determine where your current customer (or prospect) is likely to “participate” online. Don’t assume they are using Facebook or Twitter or any other social technology people tell you is the hot thing. Put your thinking cap on. Consider the demographics of your audience. What do you know about them now that can help you identify where they travel in the online space. EXAMPLE: Your customer is the VP of Sales in technology and telecommunications companies. What does he/she care about? What challenges are top of mind? In what forums or groups are they talking about what they need or wish vendors provided?
- Listen to what is being said. Now that you know where your customers live…listen to what they are talking about. What questions are they asking? How are they gathering feedback about products and services on the market? Don’t show up in a group and start pitching your wares. Take the time to listen.
- Engage them in dialog. Ask relevant questions and don’t argue the answers. Defending your turf only looks and sounds self serving. Your goal is to set your agenda aside. How else can you really understand what is important to your most valuable asset – your customer? Use what you learn to innovate your products and services and build stronger loyalty with your customer base.
It’s hard to know what that 46% was thinking when they answered the question posed in the poll, but it seems certain they may be missing the entire point and opportunity that social media represents.