“We’ve created our own Frankenstein--and we call him real-time business,” began Amber Naslund, co-author of The Now Revolution, at Social Media Camp 2011 in Victoria, today on June 4th. Her keynote delivered a tightly-packed action plan for organizations, offering the foundations for developing an evolved and measurable social media strategy.
As Amber made clear, real-time business can pose immense challenges for your company. Every customer is a reporter now, and, at any instant, your customer can become either your biggest threat or advocate.
To illustrate the potential damage of real-time feedback, Amber cited a review of a small hotel on Tripadviser.com. It’s title: “I can feel death creeping up on me as I write this.” Her point was that your customers are responding. Right now. And sometimes their bad customer experiences are unleashed with poetic bits of customer angst like this:
It's SOOOOOO gross. Like something in a horror movie. I'm about to walk out to my car to get my own blankets because this bed is so gross I don't even want to imagine how many people are brought here to be murdered. DO NOT STAY HERE. My wife and I are gonna go get tested for HIV because of this bed.
also the WiFi blows.
When we have a bad customer experience, we go straight to social media. Everyone is a publisher. And everyone, with the right resonance, can create viral-worthy content. More than that, they don’t just want to vent; they are looking for your response. Businesses can either look at this new hyper environment as a threat or see it for what it really is: one of the largest opportunities to hit our industry in decades.
The key, Amber revealed, was developing good social media policy statements that enable employees to react in real-time. That’s because if every customer is a potential reporter, there isn’t time to sit back and watch. You need a solid foundation that enables your employees to keep up.
She pointed out that real-time business makes many traditional organizational tactics irrelevant--even dangerous.
Here are some some common traps:
- Verification. You can’t wait to verify, for example, if a negative review is legitimate. You can’t wait to see if you are at fault. You have to respond.
- Contemplation. You can’t reflect about the course of action. There is no time.
- Coordination. You can’t assemble a team, have meetings, delegate responsibility. There is no time
- Privacy. Everything is public. Everyone sees the bad review. Everyone reads the bad tweet. You can’t protect or censor. You can only respond.
The point? Businesses need to be faster, smarter, and more social. “If you just answered and apologized you’d be making progress,” Amber stated. Simply respond. Be present.
Amber ended with a warning: don’t wing it. “We have to empower employees to react in real-time.. . but don’t just wing it. You have to have a social media policy. Show your employees where the lines are. Write it up, get lots of collaboration, and make sure that everyone buys into the policy from the get-go.”
The final take-away was that every new technology forces companies to move faster. We’ve reacted to every technological advance--such as fax, email, and cellphones--but most organizations haven’t really made the same adaptation for social media. Meanwhile, your customers are already there, waiting for your company’s response.
Photo: Raul Pacheco-Vega