On the other hand, the best feeling and experience both parties have happens when the problem is fixed. Your ability to fix problems is by and large what propels you forward in your career.
Why is this then that so many organizations over complicate execution to the point of stifling the customer and employee experience? Don't answer that. Let's instead take a look at how making everything simpler without needing to change the rules and with the help of social media.
Don't focus on fixing the blame
The first thing you need to get on board with is that you should not focus on fixing the blame. After repeated problems over the span of months with a specific software, I received a very long and articulate email from a vice president at said company. The note contained a long list of apologies. My response was a one liner - at this time, I'm not looking for a relationship with you, just fix the problem.
What would you have done in my place?
Sometimes your customers feel so strongly about it, that they dedicate a whole Web site to say what I said in one liner. Take a look at this fix CNBC site.
Technology shifted the power from brands to people
There are many grassroots sites built by people who felt strongly enough about a service fail or an issue and decided to take matters into their own hands. The first thing you need to understand here is that often this is a last resort move - once other attempts to contact you and deal with you failed.
Which should be extremely good news for you. If you focus on fixing the problem, you might even make a new friend and supporter in the process. In some cases fixing the problem may mean making it easy for a customer to find out more about a product before giving you too much information about himself.
You probably identify with the scenario - you call a customer service line and are asked to enter your account information with your touch tone phone. Then, the rep who finally answers the phone asks for that information again. This is one of the biggest unsolved mysteries...
Or you go on the support page of the site and you're faced with a mediocre search button that takes you to an unmoderated forum where you need to wade through tons of information before you can find what might help you. Except for often you strike out.
Integrated marketing communications can help
It's time to put social media in the proper perspective. The term social media today describes a number of tools and technologies that make it easier for people to be social online.
You can integrate these tools in your public relations and marketing communications strategy if you determine that you'd like to enhance your company's reputational search and the relationships with your customers because they (or the people who influence them) are online and use those tools.
Integrate what you can support, where your customers are. I've seen companies go crazy and give customers a gazillion ways to contact them, then fail to staff those channels adequately. Self service doesn't get your company off the hook, either.
Social currency makes it simple
How do you know where? Ask your customers and observe them. The beauty of digital media is that you can see what people do and integrate it with what they say. Today customers have the opportunity to discuss your product or service easily with other people and without coming to your site.
That's why it's a good idea to establish outposts where you could begin to earn enough credibility and trust to be part of the conversation. Take for example Frank Eliason on Twitter. I know, you probably heard that only a million times before. But you see, nobody else is out there actually solving customer problems that I could point you to in the way he does. You contact him and he gets the problem diagnosed and fixed. Period. That simple.
Of course not all your customers are on Twitter, but increasingly they go online to search for more information on your company, brands and products. You guessed it, Twitter entries do come up and they rank fairly high in search.
Today at Fast Company Expert blog we discuss how to create a Delicious strategy to help your users learn more about your products from their peers. Delicious is just one way to augment and integrate your marketing communications efforts to help customers not just fix problems, but learning how not to have them in the first place.
How do you fix the problem? How do you know you're effective? Where can social media tools help you become more proactive?