A voice for the (internet) people

By Zahra Dhanani, Research Associate –

Being one step ahead of the competition is an incredibly valuable asset to have for anyone, whether it means having Usain Bolt as your personal sprinting coach or learning magic tricks from Houdini. Most of the time, gaining an advantage requires a large investment or time or even luck, but there’s an easier way to stay ahead the curve. The voice of the customer.

While it can be very dangerous (and feel terrifying), giving your customers the power and opportunity to provide feedback in an open forum may yield some unexpected benefits. Not only would the commentary be real time, but you also gain immediate insight into your customer base’s behavior patterns and expectations.

One of the best ways to garner this kind of response is through a blog and almost everyone on the internet, whether human, robot or animal, has some form of a one, including utilities. There’s even a commonly used structure to format blogs. They generally include content, a comments section, the ability to share this content with others, and some sort of archive to recall prior entries. You can talk about anything from smart energy usage to outages to new programs. They’re also an excellent way to build up web presence and increase your search engine ranking. Blogs even serve as a way to plug your social networks and the content is heavily interconnected across both.

Now you’ve got the blog and your customers have a small outlet for their voice. But what’s the next level in reaching out to your customers?

An answer to that can be found on Salt River Project’s website. If you look at the comments section on the linked page, you will see the company encouraging a customer who has questions to submit them via Facebook. By utilizing Facebook integration on certain pages across its website, the company has created a whole new line of communication to its customer base. The idea is to leverage the fact that most people, and thus most customers, likely have easy access to Facebook if they are already contacting SRP via website. While some of the comments seem very scripted, the majority are personalized and tailored for the specific commenter.

The key in avoiding online backlash and trolls is proper management. Problematic posts must be solved in a quick, professional and friendly manner.

Interested in social customer care? To participate in our ongoing study, please email Zahra Dhanani at zdhanani@chartwellinc.com.

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