Are Brands Socially Disconnected?

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The social “experts” and “gurus” say that when a company begins to discuss incorporating social marketing into their organization they need to start with a strategy and plan. They are wrong.

Organizations need to start by indoctrinating every employee with a customer support mentality before they even begin to think about social anything. Whether companies like it or not, every department has the potential to touch a customer, from the billing department, to a receptionist, all the way up to the CEO. But, it’s not the traditional customer support as we used to all think about it, but instead it’s about being completely aware of the messages that we are sending through actions, choice of words, and even the tone of our voices/emails. I hope my IRL (In Real Life) example below gets you to understand where I am coming from.

Two months after canceling an account with a vendor, I received an email saying that we (Neolane) were four payments behind. I began to wonder why they were contacting me after 4 missed payments, instead of the first missed payment. I sent them back an email asking why I wasn’t contacted sooner. This resulted in a reply stating they couldn’t process our payment due to outstanding information, but also that someone else in the company may have actually received the late payment notifications. I am the only contact person on the account, so I politely requested they forward me the emails that had been sent. I never received any response to this request.

I’m sure you aren’t interested in hearing about billing issues however; there is a point to my example. This vendor makes a tool that I licensed from them then enables large and small brands to listen to social conversations. They have a Blog, a Twitter handle, and a Facebook page to talk to PR and marketing professionals about how they need to listen and monitor in order to address public issues or provide customer support. Kind of ironic don’t you think?

Here is what really bothers me and is the lesson for all of us- this vendor didn’t apologize in any way, nor did they notify me in any way once they processed our new credit card number. Even though we spend all this time talking about engaging, energizing, supporting, and embracing; I strongly feel that companies are forgetting to do this in the day-to-day dealings through email, over the phone and face to face. My guess is that this vendor has a great social strategy and plan in place, but didn’t bother to instill the prerequisite customer service mentality that I prescribed earlier. What do you think? Are brands today disconnected? Let me know your thoughts.

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