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Once upon a very good time for the limousine industry, reservations were booked in person and over the telephone. Then came a little big thing called the Internet that changed the way people around the world communicate, receive information and conduct business. Many companies today have websites, online reservations and communicate with clients through email.
Now there’s a little big thing called the social network, and it’s consuming more and more of people’s time. But because it’s still a new species in cyberspace, companies aren’t sure how to use it for business. Some companies think social media is a one-way broadcast medium and don’t bother to engage their fans.
Bill Faeth: Companies that reach out to clients through social networks will differentiate themselves from competitors who don’t.
That view is a digital deathtrap. Ignoring a message on social media is just the same as ignoring an email or phone call, except it is amplified by the public nature of social networks. Other clients or prospects will take note of a company’s response, or lack thereof.
Customers call the shots
Businesses should consider social media an extension of their customer service outreach, because clients already do. It requires less effort for a customer to contact a company it’s connected to via social network than to visit the company’s website and look up contact information.
San Francisco-based tech company Zendesk discovered that 62% of consumers polled have used social media for customer service issues. 34% contacted travel and hospitality companies.
A BBC poll of 2,000 U.K adults in April 2012 revealed that 65% of respondents believed social media is a better way to communicate with companies than call centers. While social media is associated with Gen Y, 27% of respondents ages 55 and older used social media to contact a company.
DMG Consulting, a firm that focuses on call center and analytics research, said in a benchmark report published this year: “In the near future, all organizations will have to address social media. It will become the second most important servicing channel, whether companies are ready for it or not, because it is a very comfortable way for a growing percentage of the population to communicate.”
Del Rollo, national director of Visitor Experiences for Vincor Canada, the largest wine producer in Canada, says businesses that ignore social media communications are “missing the opportunity to have a deeper relationship with their consumers. When you create a deeper bond, you see an increase in sales and you also create ambassadors for your brand.”