The assumption on most social networks is that any conversation between the company representative and the customer (or potential customer) is open and visible to all, whether as Twitter messages or a Facebook wall discussion.
Calls to a contact centre are all recorded, but other consumers would not listen in to other calls, so there is a very different open discourse taking place in this new environment – where one customer might even have the answer sought by another and be happy to share it.
This difference is crucial. Sometimes you will just be facilitating a discussion between your own customers or prospects – not directly selling to them.
In addition, with value being placed on transparency of communication it is important to be honest about what you can do and how. It’s not possible to pitch to a prospect in a social environment when you know all of their online friends can also see your pitch – the traditional sales pitch does not work in this environment.
And what makes the social experience even more different is the possibility for your engagement to be shared. Whether the experience is good or bad, it is very easy for customers to amplify something they see online by sharing it with their online friends.
This idea of amplification works both ways and can be very positive for you – or negative.
Imagine you are dealing with an existing customer online and they are making a complaint about your service within a social network. If you can address the complaint online using the same network, openly answering their comments and helping to resolve the issue, then it is just as likely the customer will broadcast their satisfaction to all of their online friends.
However, if you try to sell to someone you don’t know in a way that is seen as intrusive, the potential customer might send a message to all their contacts saying ‘don’t ever deal with this joker – look at the way he is trying to sell to me’.
This is a very open and transparent environment and you should always assume that communications are be seen by anyone – unless they are specifically kept private.
Amplification is a powerful concept and should be combined with the transparent approach to create scenarios where many customers and prospects are happy to show others a positive experience with your own organisation.
Photo by The Paradigm Shifter licensed under Creative Commons