Monday, April 5, 2010

Getting Social with Your Customers

By Jackie Kaufenberg

We all know that social marketing is much more then marketing. It is customer service. It is sales. It is your brand and your voice. And if you are lucky, it is the voice of your happy customers too.

Imagine if more of your customers spoke out and became your brand evangelists? What would happen if they loved your product or brand so much that they shouted it out over the mountain tops (or their closest social networking site)?

Let me share my recent experiences with you:

I began following a mom through a twitter search. On one of her tweets, she was experiencing problems finding a standing frame that would work for her son, because of his special needs. Through 140 characters on Twitter, I tried to explain how our product was different. After about a four month process of trialing the equipment, submitting it to medical insurance, and two appeals, she finally got the stander for her son and was ecstatic. She blogged all about the experience, including her son's grandparents seeing him stand for the first time! She shared photos, and tweeted all about it. Now we are also working on a customer story about her son to share on our website.

A few weeks ago, I noticed that one of our Facebook fans had a profile picture of her little boy smiling in one of our standers. I sent her a simple message introducing myself, complimenting her on the photo, and asking her if there was anything I could do for her. She replied with a friend request, and atypical comments of dissatisfaction. She was frustrated because she got the product without really knowing exactly what her son needed. She did not order an option that provided the support he needed to stand comfortably. Worse yet, she had been contacting the vendor to get the problem solved and they were ignoring her. I had talked to my customer service department, and it was an easy fix that would cost us close to nothing, in comparison to an unhappy customer. We sent her the part and she was so grateful. Within 24 hours, she had sent me a Facebook message, updated her status, posted a photo and comment on our wall, followed us on Network Blogs, and posted a comment on our blog - all with words of extreme gratitude and appreciation for helping to solve her problem.

The beauty of social marketing is that it takes us back to looking at each customer as an individual, instead of a target market or demographic. Every customer has the power to spread the word. Make it good.

Jackie Kaufenberg is the Marketing Manager for Altimate Medical Inc. in Morton, Minnesota. They manufacture standing frames for people who use wheelchairs and also have a blog for people with disabilities, and medical professionals.

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Marc said...

Great story, Jackie! It's all too easy for social marketing to become a spectator sport, letting ourselves get caught up in the volume of so much content before us, but rarely stopping to engage in a way that makes a difference.

You made the jump from reading to responding, and from treating her message as an event to making it a relationship opportunity. And then you went from empathy to action.

Thanks to your persistence, you did a good thing Jackie - for her, for her son, for your company and for yourself. Social marketing may be the vehicle, the the power for change lies within each of us!

Jackie said...

Thanks for the comment Marc! Sometimes it takes an a-ha moment to really see the potential. I like how social networking takes us back to the basics of what is important in marketing - relationships.

@dominic_f said...

Great post, Jackie! I agree with Marc. Often times, customer requests and complaints were left unaddressed. You've taken the initiatives to not only read about customer concerns in the market space but also stepped in to mitigate the issue. You did a good thing and it is the right thing to do.

Word of mouth marketing is still the most effective platform. What social media does is providing a more 1-to-1 experience despite the distance. A happy customer's testimonial is much more effective sales tool than most other marketing collaterals. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Jackie said...

Thanks Dominic! I agree about the value of referrals and customer testimonials. Less expensive, more effective, and earned - so it also feels good. :)

Jodi Eckes said...

Another great story about the true magic that can happen with social media and its ability to provide direct and immediate communication between the end consumer and large companies. The result? A customer that feels valued, appreciated and understood. Now who doesn't want that? Well done, Jackie!

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