The strength of anything—a home, a family, a corporation, a building, anything—is almost entirely dependent on the strength of the foundation below.
In a world where social media is quickly becoming the norm, the same rule is true. Want to make sure you keep your customers when your company has a breakdown? You'd better make sure you've spent all your time up until that point building the most solid foundation possible. Want to use current customers to bring in new customers? Want to make customers so happy that they'll go and do your PR for you, without you even asking? (Customer-driven PR is the coolest form of PR there is.) In this chapter, we discuss how to do that in a few basic moves.
Before the Customer Is Even a Customer
When I was 14 and a freshman in high school, I remember my parents attending a "What to expect now that your kid is in high school" assembly the first week of school. And what I remember the most about it (other than the natural embarrassment a 14-year-old feels when in the presence of his parents) is that the guidance counselor, Dr. Wile, gave out his number to his private office line as he stood on the stage. He told something like 1,200 parents how to reach him, allowing them to bypass the switchboard, if they ever had a problem or needed to talk to him.
I remember that stuck with me—and with my parents, who wrote down his number, like the other 1,198 parents in attendance. He did something completely unexpected and quite beneficial. For my entire four years of high school, my parents remembered Dr. Wile—and obviously, 20 years later (ugh! 20 years!), so do I.
How can you be different before your customer is even a customer? Social media, being about customer service, is also about servicing the pre-customers. You want to reach them before they even know they need to buy from you and you alone.
One of the countless beauties of social media is that there are so many ways to start earning a good reputation long before the customer is a customer, when he just finds you for the first time on Google or—best of all—hears about you from a friend or trusted associate. (Get to know that term—trusted associate. As social media continues to become the norm rather than the exception, it's going to be the biggest link to you getting new customers and clients.)
So, if that's the case (and it is), it comes down to this: You have one goal right now, and that's to sell. However, you really need to have two goals at all times: To sell, and to do so in such a way that you make your customers feel like rock stars from the second they find you and for the rest of their lives.