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4 ways to become a true social business

Jon Ferrara | April 4, 2012
You and I may be fully participating in popular social media like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, but I'll bet your company isn't -- at least as well as it could be.

2. Be Social Internally

You can't present yourself as a social business to your customers if you are not a social business inside your company's walls. You must enable the voice of the people to flow through your organization -- both the voice of customers and employees. Empower your team to make important decisions in favor of the customer at the moment of the interaction.

To do that, you need to break down the silos and boundaries that exist between departments. You need to give front-line employees the authority to be responsive to customers' frustrations (such as offering a month of free service for their troubles). You need to create the same sense of community internally as you create externally with your customers. This means listening to every individual in the organization and helping them to collaborate more effectively, with the goal of continuously improving the customer experience.

3. Be Real

What kind of relationship do you have with the credit card company that sends you an incessant stream of new card offers? What about your barber, your real estate broker, or your colleague in another department?

People like to connect with real people. They like to share their ideas, questions and frustrations with people who will listen and engage with them. They do not like canned responses, impersonal messages, or one-way communication.

People buy from people they like, and they can only like people they know. They cannot know you unless you step out from behind the curtain and reveal yourself as a man or woman from Omaha, or wherever you call home. Start by sharing things about yourself: your successes, your lessons learned, your observations, and your passions. When you open yourself up and really engage, your customers will begin to trust you, be responsive to you, and guide you to success.

4. Leverage Technology

It's impossible these days to stay connected with customers and employees without a myriad of tools: email, calendar apps, social networks, Skype, wiki's, project management, CRM systems, etc. While you can survive with all of these tools, they make building and nurturing relationships a headache, because they leave business contacts, communication and activities scattered all over the place. None of the data is well connected, and social intelligence is absent.

This is why social businesses need to leverage the power of socially enabled software platforms. These tools unify customer communication and provide businesses with a 360-degree view of all your customer interactions. They provide deeper insight into who your customers are -- as individuals and en masse. As a business professional, you can tap this knowledge to find ways to connect and engage on a personal level.


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