With social media it is now possible to use one service to market your products, communicate with existing customers, find new customers, coordinate efforts with business partners and run your business. Social media is like a one-size-fits-all business olution.
Assuming you can find your way around the social media landscape.
The fact is, the world of business has undergone more change in the past few years than it had the entire prior century. The changes have not only been fast, they’ve been dramatic and far-reaching. Services such as ConstantContact, Facebook and Twitter were just figments of someone’s imagination a decade ago, but today they are crucial to a number of business plans.
What will the future bring? Nobody knows. Just understanding what the present has to offer can be tough enough.
Suffice to say social media can make your business better, if you accept it and manage it properly. treat it like a tool and it will benefit your business. Treat it like a toy and you will simply waste precious time on something that won’t get you anywhere, anyway.
That’s because social media has blurred the lines between sales, service and marketing. Consider, for example, the following tweet: “Thinking about adding 10 more tablets for sales team. What’s the best way to share real-time data?” That one tweet could go to sales to follow up a lead, to service for tech support or to marketing to offer incentives and reinforce branding. How does a company effectively handle this overlap? The answer has ramifications that affect customer-facing operations throughout a company: requiring a different blend of skills, greater levels of employee empowerment and shifting organizational structures as enterprises go social.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines CEO Peter Hartman confronted this challenge in April 2010, when a volcanic ash cloud from Iceland drifted across western Europe. The ash grounded flights for six days, and triggered a deluge of tweets and Facebook posts from stranded travelers asking for help. Like many companies, KLM had dabbled in social media, but hundreds of increasingly frustrated posts from stranded customers tested the company’s nascent social strategy.
Shortly after the ash cloud, Hartman declared social media the center of KLM’s customer service efforts, with the goal of cutting resolution time to one day at the most. Posts on social channels, such as Twitter and Facebook, would be responded to within one hour. Hartman told his social team to do what it thought necessary to resolve complaints.
In the year since the biggest disruption to European air traffic since World War II, KLM has defined new job roles, reorganized its marketing and service functions to support social media and launched a Social Media Hub to handle all incoming requests. The hub brings employees from across the company together, including e-commerce, customer care, in-flight services, IT and marketing. KLM places new emphasis on employees who can react quickly, solve problems independently, and know how to service customers – and do it in a way that plays well in a world where people instantly and publicly update complaints and praise.
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