Social media is increasingly becoming meaningless as a buzzword used by many business and organisations. Social media cannot do magic for businesses if they fail to fulfil their customers' expectations in a timely manner.
Andrew Grill of IBM in his latest article nicely summarised why there's still a long way for many businesses to realise what social media is all about.
Companies feel they have fairly coherent social media strategies. Needless to say, what businesses may feel about their operations can be quite different to what their customers may think.
A brand is therefore not what the brand owner think it is; but what people talk about. Enterprise, the car rental business with "meet and exceed customer expectations" slogan, is an example where the brand owners have lost the plot; based on a simple search on the brand mentions on Twitter alone.
One can build the best brand image and promise many beautiful things but by hiring wrong people for customer facing positions; everything can fall apart and this is exactly the case with Enterprise Rent-A-Car business. The founders probably meant to build a business based on returning customers; but those who hand over a rented car's key to the customer can make or break the business objectives. This is therefore crucial to hire a people person for such customer facing job.
Customer service is the new PR and as it is evident above, it is unfortunately undermined by some brands.
According to GlobalWebIndex latest study of social media, the overall social media reach continues to reach. This indicates that social media has given customers a platform to air their voice when brands tend to ignore offline conversations. People don't choose sharing their frustration on social media as the first port of call; but they do so when they feel ignored or manipulated by those speaking to.
No-one wants to mourn or complain online but when they feel really ignored or not listened to by those they speak to, they see no choice other than making sure the business feels their frustration. Putting complaints online can and in fact harm a business reputation on a global level.
The unanswered question still remains to be unanswered; why businesses try to push the boundaries too far and too hard where they risk their reputation?
Many brands frustrate customers for many reasons and most of all is miscommunication; which can be on purpose to make sure they make more money or unintentionally due to having inexperienced staff just to pay less salary to boost profitability.
Probably customer loyalty and satisfaction just belong to press releases and marketing materials; after all. Once again, Enterprise is an example to mention in this context.
As it is evident, meeting and exceeding customer expectations cannot be just a brand's slogan but it has to be part of the company culture and DNA.
Customers don't expect much from businesses, they just want to be respected as people as opposed to being seen as return on investment for businesses. Being professional is always good in business but being authentic and helpful mean much more to customers.
This is how one can build a loyal customer base and social media offers business the opportunity to do so; business owners and marketers just need to realise people think and they know their rights as customers; hence they share their experience on the most visited social media channels in the world.