Are You Meeting Your Customers Where They Are?

customersWritten by Chipo Mapungwana

In the 1990s, if you walked into the local butcher shop in your  town, the butcher knew your name, what cut of meat you liked, and what you bought the last few times you were there. The butcher had a feel for who you were and could therefore recommend you try pork ribs or gladly answer your question about how to season your beef stew.

The shopping experience was personal, more of a congenial conversation than a transaction. Two decades or so later, spending in the customer service and support industry had skyrocketed as companies scaled up their customer service operations. However, the shift from personalization to efficiency was also a major factor in the skyrocketing cost. Corporations were not like local butchers. Companies traded the human touch for call centres, in-store customer response boxes and CRM software.

Soon the  focus shifted from understanding the customer to understanding the average cost per customer interaction. And now, in just the last few years, customer service has begun its most profound transformation yet. In many ways, a shift back to the golden age is at hand. What, for half a century, has been the preferred channel to reach companies has become a jumbled mess of touch-tone navigation and poorly trained, outsourced agents and front line staff who are usually only concerned about the number of shifts and the dollars per hour. It’s no wonder customers have swiftly turned their backs in favour of a more immediate and satisfactory resolution: social media channels.

Satisfying Today’s Customer

Customers are bypassing the suggestion box, the complaint letter, the fax, the telephone, the contact form, and even email in favour of Twitter and Facebook because it’s faster (and because they can).

When customers don’t feel like they’re being heard one of two things will happen: they’ll go to a competitor, or they’ll find a bigger, more public megaphone to get your attention. A polite tweet might evolve into an elaborate blog post about why no one should ever do business with you again.

The volume, speed, and public nature of social media conversations are driving the inevitable convergence of customer service and marketing. When your customer complaints are publicly visible in your social marketing channels, as are your responses, every service interaction becomes another data point in the overall perception of your brand. Every response is not only an opportunity to invest in a customer relationship on a real human-to-human basis through sharing valued knowledge, resources, and assistance, but a chance to tell the world that you care about your customers.

What is the payoff of great customer engagement?

When customers need additional products or services they immediately think of you first. Your organizational responsiveness will have demonstrated your company values, culture, and charm without having to advertise any of it to prospective customers. Social media has made customer service the new marketing. Responsiveness is half of the marketing equation and personalization the other. It is now possible for companies to re-create that local butcher shop experience with all of the attendant personalization, but with a type of responsiveness that is native to social media. It is now possible to deeply understand your customers’ wants and needs, to meet them where they are, and to incorporate social media listening, response, and engagement into your contact centre methodologies.

In the next few days we will show you how to:

  • Make the case for social customer service.

  • Meet customers where they are online using social media  listening.

  • Foster two-way dialogue with customers through social media engagement.

  • Truly transform your company’s customer service processes and methods.

For Marketing strategies, Contact Chipo on




About chipomaps

A brand reputation, marketing and new media trainer and consultant. Constantly curious, constantly learning.
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