Social Media really IS turning the business-to-customer on its head and this process is only beginning. The businesses which embrace this are going to stay ahead of this chaos as it happens. But if, as a business, you're afraid of change or too set in your ways, you're liable to regret it later when your competitors take a giant leap ahead by setting themselves apart.Let's say you're a dentist (this is fresh on my mind because I just visited a great one here in town and am still convalescing a little from their excellent work). The usual dental business model is like a lot of others: attract patients (customers), do the work, they leave, you follow-up at some point or schedule a follow-up right there. That's the way it's been being done for years and years, with some slight variations.
What's missing from this equation? It's the same thing missing from a lot of businesses out there: getting an honest answer from that customer on how they really felt about the service or product. The customers truth about that service or product, if you will.
But can businesses "handle it"?
Does this idea make you feel a little uncomfortable? It might and I'd be surprised if it didn't because businesses have not been all that good about bellying up to that particular bar. When was the last time someone at a company really asked you for your honest opinion about a service they delivered to you, in a way that you were happy to tell them because you could see they handle the truth? Ever? (Note: I'm not talking about the constrained surveys that only let you numerically assign values to service or your likeliness to buy or recommend. I'm talking about real, braindump, unedited type responses, because that's what people are able to dishout now, via their own media channels (blogs, Twitter, Facebooke, etc.), if they so choose.
Social media, if it's doing anything else in the market place is starting to tear down the walls between businesses and the minds of their customers. Not only does the emperor not have any clothes on, but his subjects are willing to tell him and can with relative impunity.
As more and more people realize they have venues like UserVoice, Get Satisfaction and others like them (see article below), honest answers about your services and products will begin to flow out into the world, whether you like it or not.The best thing businesses could do is embrace this fully and early as possible and build "get honest answers" mechanisms into their existing customer/patient management processes. The sooner they do this the sooner they will also ensure that they are protecting their herd or tribe from poaching businesses. (After all, the ease with which customers can now get information means they have so many more choices than ever before.)
Embrace this change before your competitors do and you'll give your cusotmers/patients one more reason to stick with you, in addition to your already excellent services and products. Any business can do it. It doesn't matter what you sell.
One more thing: there is a huge added advantage here, in addition to letting a customer know you hear what s/he has to say: the feedback will give you ideas for how to improve and, if you use them, will ensure that you stay on top of your game. Nothing wows a customer like seeing one of his/her suggestions in place when s/he returns for the next visit.
Companies who don't embrace this are going to find themselves being talked about whether they like it or not (because anyone can publish these days). Sooner or later that will happen and it's always harder to handle that sort of thing reactively. Get proactive. Start this process now.
---How Social Media is Upending the Enterprise | Fast Company.
The power of social media has empowered the consumer to reach literally hundreds or thousands of people in seconds. And because we know a consumer’s closest friends are three to five times more likely to share the same preferences for products and brands, this newfound power is not to be underestimated. ...
The challenge for companies is figuring out how to manage this. A conversation could start with a tweet, be directed to a help forum, be responded to in email, updated in a blog post, and then broadcast on Facebook. How will this be tracked, measured and monitored? This market is ripe with opportunity for both brands and software platforms built to nurture the distributed web-wide conversation.