How’s Your Reflection?

By Shari LeGate

tim_berners-leeTim Berners-Lee isn’t a well-known name. He’s not a rock star, celebrity, athlete or any of those types that today’s generation admires and reveres. But this one individual changed the face of customer relations. He’s the man who invented the World Wide Web. Different from the Internet, which is a massive network of networks connecting millions of computers together globally, the Web is a way of accessing information over the medium of the Internet. It’s an information-sharing model built on top of the Internet.

I could get into a bunch of geek-speak on the different protocols, browsers, etc., but eyes would glaze over, yawning would commence and the impact of Mr. Berners-Lee’s game-changing customer relations invention would be missed.

Ask a marketing person about customer relations and you probably won’t hear the phrase “digital marketing.” But it should be in the top three answers. Before the World Wide Web was created, we relied on face-to-face conversations in the store, at conventions or events designed to distribute information. We used telephone conversations through customer service lines to talk about products and then progressed to email to converse with our customer.

Over 80% of adults in the U.S. use social media
to look for products and research information.

Technology has transformed everything and with each advancement and new platform, we’re presented with new opportunities. Keeping up customer relationships is vital, but doing it cost effectively can be tricky. Setting up web pages, sending out email blasts and automating processes (i.e., “press ‘1’ for …”) can cut costs and help in developing relationships, but if that’s the extent of your customer relations program, it could be falling a bit short.

Over 80% of adults in the U.S. use social media to look for products and research information. Using social media appropriately to manage customer relations can control costs and send the perception of giving personal service to the customer. There are a few ways to do that.

If there are different messages to get out, create a theme and keep information topic centric. Sending out all the information in a continuous stream can be confusing and look disjointed. Focus on one message at one time.

Keep the conversation flowing, but don’t over post. It’s exhausting and time-consuming for the customer. Promote what you’re doing in print ads and vice versa. Not just those small icons we see at the bottom of web and print pages. Promote with comments and teaser lines. Finally, when a customer writes in the comment section, respond. Whether it’s a direct private answer or a public post, a response is just simply good customer service.

Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the internetIt all comes down to perceived value. Because of the World Wide Web, we no longer engage in face-to-face conversations and telephone calls and we tend to forget our customers are human beings. Even though they go to the web for information and product purchases, there’s still a real person behind the mouse click.

Tim Berners-Lee was knighted in 2004 for his incredible invention and rightly so, but I read he wasn’t quite happy with how the World Wide Web turned out. He said he’d give it a “B+” or maybe even an “A-”; on balance, it’s a force for good.

I think we’d all agree with Sir Berners- Lee’s assessment, but I would add one more point. The web is just a tool created by people and, inadvertently, it reflects who we are — both the best and the worst. When it comes to our business and our customers, it’s our reflection the customer remembers.

Make sure your web reflection is reflecting the best of who you are. Contact me at shari.legate@nullfmghq.com or Tracy Moore at tracy.moore@nullpubdev.com for more information on showing your best reflection.

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