Recently I was reading When Word of Mouth Got a Permalink – Companies, Customers and Twitter by Scott Hansleman and I found it very interesting that Home Depot ran across Scott’s Twitter post and took action. If you stop and think about it for a minute why should this been so surprising and my intent here is not to cross Scott in any negative manner rather to touch on social networking and what is means to a commercial business. Word of mouth has always been the best advertising for any company and while television and print ads may catch your attention how often do you run out to by that new laptop or car based upon what you just read or viewed? My guess is that you do and I know I don’t. I always as friends and family about there experiences with a product and more often than not if you take the time to think back I am sure you can recall someone around you speaking badly about a product or service. Why is this? Well it is human nature to tell anyone that will listen about the bad in a company or product as a way to warn others so they are not doomed to the same mistake you had previously made. The flip side of the coin is we tend not to be as vocal about a successful product or company that has exceeded every expectation that you may have had, well this is true for many of us.
The point I am making as in Scott’s case more and more companies have taken note of social networking and continue to look much more closely at this technology and the people behind it. Now if you are like Scott, and I am, then when I place orders from companies that conduct business thru the internet I have come to expect my order to be processed and shipped with 24-48 hours and anything more than that leaves a undesired experience. In fact after reading Scott’s post it would have possibly caused me not to purchase online from Home Depot in the future should I have remembered this experience I heard about from another. Good or bad it is a fact of life. Most if not all companies will step up and attempt to satisfy you should you encounter a problem. While the human factor at time presents a road block and at times can result in revenue loss for the company should you feel that you inquiry is falling upon deaf ears you should always ask to speak to a supervisor or manager. For example, recently my brother called an unnamed satellite television provider after being a solid customer for a number of years to see if they would lower his monthly bill to the introduction rates that they recently begun advertising. Of course as an existing customer these introduction rates were not available to him. He then proceed to ask the sales person if there was nothing that they could do for him since he had been a loyal customer for some time and that their competition was running similar offers however he did not want to switch providers. Believe it or not the response he was given was “Sir, if company XYZ can give you that rate then I suggest you call them.” and so he did. The irony in this example is a few days later the original provider called him to inquire what they could do to bring back his business. He explained to the individual what had occurred and their response was that was wrong to treat him in such a manner and that they in fact could lower his bill. Well it was a little to late as my brother had transferred service to another provider and he had a contract to honor.
Hyundai is a major automotive corporation who in my opinion is following the social networking trend. See their ad for yourself:
Now I agree that Hyundai is not forcing the consumer to Tweet, blog, or ever any other social medium but they are none the less paying back the consumer for good old word of mouth social networking.
Online Customer Community
In fact earlier this year Hyundai and passenger joined forces to launch a “think tank” which is a private community for Hyundai owners. [ via Reuters ]
Social networking is a powerful means of communication and I for one believe it is here to say. While I am sure that will be many advancements over the coming years, it is most assuredly an avenue that today’s business can no longer ignore.