Archive for November, 2011

Social Media’s Impact on Customers

Support channel preferences are changing rapidly and social media is making a huge impact on service and branding strategy.  New generations are clear on how they want to buy and seek product support, and their desires are changing the way you interact with customers. Today, social networking is a key component in formulating a service strategy.  Leading social media technologies, like Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, YouTube and LinkedIn, are becoming the top channel choice for communicating with the current generation.

The customer experience is inextricably linked to brand experience, and both are key to company success.  This is true even more so now because the speed at which a customer’s experience is shared using social networks sets the perception for hundreds of thousands of prospective buyers immediately.  See our recent post on Greatest Customer Story Ever Told where a popular restaurant chain gleaned $800k in earned media coverage by responding to just one prospective customer’s Tweet in a very unique way. The story went viral and was viewed by millions of people within days. Imagine an impact like that from just one initial Tweet from a prospective customer and a savvy response from this very fortunate (and smart) company.

Social networking creates interactive communities that enable people to support and inform each on an ongoing basis.  Take a look at the company-wide social strategy Best Buy deployed with their Twelpforce initiative.  Best Buy encourages all 2,600 of their Twelpforce employees to “engage” with customers and create a superior experience.

Social media plays a key role in how customers discover, research and share information about products and services.  In various studies on consumer buying, research shows that nearly 65% of consumers list customer ratings as their preferred source of information when purchasing products and services.  Customers who have a great or a poor experience use social media to spread the word to very large audiences instantly AND prospective customers use this information to decide whether or not to purchase your products.

Social media can transform the perceived customer experience for a company literally overnight.  That scenario cuts both ways though, and if you are not responding in a genuine and effective way to resolve customer inquiries, you can tarnish your brand experience just as quickly.  If customers use social media to say great things about you, your revenues grow faster, they grow higher, and customers stay more loyal to you.  Period.

The way you interact with customers and your ability to provide an exemplary customer service experience has never been more important to the future of your business.  If you don’t have a social networking service strategy and presence today, you’ll need to build one because your competitors are and you are losing business to them.

For more information on how to define your customer service strategy, contact Lori Carr & Associates today.

Inspirational Innovator: The Giving Pledge

Last year, iconic leaders Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates joined forces to create an innovative initiative: The Giving Pledge. Through this organization, Buffett and Gates are encouraging and inspiring fellow billionaires around the world to donate more than 50% of their wealth to charity.

Warren Buffett with Bill and Melinda Gates

More than 70 of the world’s wealthiest families have made the pledge since Gates and Buffett introduced the initiative last year. First introduced as a $600 billion challenge to encourage philanthropy among billionaires specifically in America, Gates and Buffett have since taken the Giving Pledge abroad, introducing it to billionaires around the world. Dubbed by the Wall Street Journal as the “most powerful movement in American philanthropy since Andrew Carnegie released his famous ‘Gospel of Wealth’ treatise in 1889,” pledges represent more than $150 billion in philanthropy already.

The Pledge itself is simple: signers have to be billionaires who promise to give at least half of their fortune to charity during their lifetimes. Each writes a letter, which can be read online here. Signers include, along with Gates and Buffett, high profile business leaders like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Michael Bloomberg, Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg, and David Rockerfeller.

The Giving Pledge is a natural extension of the inspirational philanthropic efforts Buffett and Gates practice themselves: Bill and Melinda Gates through their Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Buffett through his own well-documented promise to give his Bershire Hathaway empire away to charities. (See an in-depth interview with the trio by Charlie Rose here)

So far, 69 billionaires have signed the pledge, representing more than $150 billion in pledges supporting a range of causes, from fighting cancer and funding Jewish schools to housing orphans in Africa and helping farmers in Appalachia.