A New Way to Create Customer Relationships?05/07/2012
I have read several articles recently explaining that I have to "buy in" to Social Media because it offers a new way to create a client relationship and build my customer base. I disagree, customer relationships are still built the way they always have been and social media simply offers a new tool to help create them. Social media is no different than the cell phone, website or the television each of which was a communication innovation in their infancy. Social media represents a technology that merges several existing tools in to a more engaging application. (Chat rooms, forums, bulletin boards and guest books have been around for years.)
Customer relationships have always been built through interaction with a potential client that initiates, maintains and promotes a sustained profitable relationship for both parties. In other words a relationship doesn't exist until and unless there is a mutually beneficial activity involved. For example: I have a website with valuable content concerning widgets. You need a widget but aren't quite sure what kind. My marketing attracts you to my website where you learn what you needed to know about widgets. Has a mutually beneficial activity been created yet? If you said no you may want to go back to business school 101. Of course there has been a mutually beneficial activity. You needed something, I provided it. You gained information, I gained your goodwill. Can I cash a check yet? Of course not, but the relationship has begun.
Can social media create this client relationship? No more than my website can. You and I created the relationship; technology simply provided the tool or forum for the relationship to begin. Today marketing messages about social media get mixed up and confused to the point that it is difficult for the average internet user to understand. Messages like "Social Media is the Only Way to Reach Mobile Customers" are simply ludicrous. Unless your target customer only communicates through Face book, Twitter or Google+ (If so, your potential client needs help) there are many other ways to reach them. I am not against social media, as a matter of fact, I applaud the innovation and application of technology. However, my very first programming instructor once said, "When it comes to technology one rule always applies, Garbage In, Garbage out". He was right, the result and affect of any technology is directly related to what you put in to it.
Social media can and should be utilized as another tool in the communication arsenal, but only people can create relationships. It is what we do with technology that makes it useful, not the other way around. If we forget that the key ingredient to success is the development and maintenance of the personal end of the modern customer relationship we will not have advanced toward the goal of long term business success we will have succeeded only in creating a void where technology attempts vainly to interact.
Impressive thought on creating Customer Relationship. Nice article. Thanks for sharing.
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