Accessibility as Strategy: The One-Way Conversation is Dead

As my grandma always used to say, “God willing someone answers the phone.” For context, she was talking about customer service and sales people. Are you ready for an open discussion? If you are, that means first, (and still unlike most customer service programs), you need to make yourself accessible. Being accessible means you have to interact, which leads to a 2-way dialogue.

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, invented his business on accessibility to their customers. Today’s customers are social customers, so rather than measuring how little time each customer service rep spends on a resolution or general communication, Zappos built a model where employees are rewarded for spending more time conversing with their customers. Time spent dialoguing is more important than the speed to closing a ticket or selling their products. It sounds so simple, but accessibility is the game changing foundation that made their business a multi-billion dollar enterprise.

Accessibility as Strategy: The One Way Conversation is Dead image blogAccessibility as Strategy: The One Way Conversation is DeadAnd much like Mark Benioff (@markbenioff CEO of Salesforce.com),it’s the people behind any brand that need to step forward and become brand advocates. Connected company leaders prove that brands are human, and a human brand is a trusted brand. Yes, all brands make mistakes because they’re powered by humans (and to help avoid said mistakes, should be implementing social governance and training programs). But when it comes down to it, all the social brand blunders in the world have overcome disaster by being forthright, acting immediately, with a human response and the accessibility to engage in a 2-way dialogue.

Here are 5 ways accessibility can course correct your organization to align with today’s social customer:

1. Earn Trust: Trust takes time to build with customers, because it comes from advocates, evangelists and their experience with your brand. The first phase of your social plan should point to building a trust-driven engagement strategy. Think of it as direct deposit into your social karmic bank – a good social trust strategy will pay you back in spades exactly when you really need it (assuming the approach is authentic from the get go.)

2. Co-create the Adventure: People want to be along for the ride, not a moment in time. It’s the adventure that the customer loves to be a part of, so co-creating an adventurous story in social that is scintillating for you both will stimulate a riveting dialogue and great content; the two most important social necessities.

3. Accept Nothing Less than Raving Fan Status: I love this saying from Ken Blanchard’s book, “The Raving Fan.” When we started PureMatter 11 years ago, this was one of the books that helped launch the customer service values of our business. I suggest that the same value be applied to your own social accessibility, to build the kind of social fans that can make a difference to your business. Creating an accessible social space to celebrate and thank the people who actively engage with you and your brand is important not just for you, but will go miles with them as well!

4. Respond or Die: Unless you are going on sabbatical, into space or have set the expectation publicly about the ways you won’t engage in social (i.e. Seth Godin), a response is an acknowledgement that you’re listening and care enough to close the loop on the conversation. There aren’t many other more frustrating feelings than being ignored, especially in a public place like social media.

5. Participate in the Sharing Economy: It’s the right time to put yourself out there in this new “Sharing Economy”, where sharing your ideas, thoughts and opinions with many is totally socially acceptable. This new era allows us to collaborate more efficiently and use amplified listening to learn, modify and try again. Depending on the social channel, sharing information can be a powerful connection-builder that can lead to new business and new unexpected friendships.

KEY TAKEAWAY: Simply put, the one-way conversation is dead. Staying silent will only pull you backwards in the eyes of today’s social customer. Toss your fears aside and become socially accessible; it will be the strategy that makes the difference to your customers and your business.

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