I read a story recently about David Rockerfeller that I found interesting. He was in the army during World War II and so he happened to be in his uniform one day when he spontaneously walked into the famous jeweller Van Cleef. He told them plainly he was looking for an engagement ring and could they help him? The staff took one look at him and sniffed out a cheapstake (soldier = no money) and haughtily referred him, in their most condescending voices, to Tiffany’s across the street. Mr. Rockerfeller walked straight across the street to Tiffany’s and bought the biggest diamond in the store.
In a networked world of interconnected stories, where measurement and statistics keep marketers up late at night, there may be something being lost. There may be something entirely forgotten. There may be something we never get back if we aren’t careful.
Meaningful, individualized customer service. Oh yes, I know, everyone says how wonderful social media is for customer service but isn’t all social media run by human beings? So, what occurred at Van Cleef’s is now occurring all over the internet. “Oh, you only have 62 followers, you can’t possibly have any real worth’ is today’s modern equivalent of that snooty behaviour from the Van Cleef staff back in the day. As our connectedness gets tied to our status, we may be on a bit of a slippery slope when it comes to offering genuine support to our customers.
How do you remain genuine, connect authentically, stay real in a world driven by data mining, ROI, and the ever-present daily headline screaming at us on ‘how to get more followers + how to increase your Edgerank + how to drive your Klout score up, up, up!’?
You stop. Stop and look at that man in his soldier uniform and find out who he is. Stop and listen to the customer right in front of you. You’re going to sell him one of the biggest diamond rings in history. Isn’t he worth taking a moment for?
In our crazed rush to increase sales online, we’ve forgotten that people still like people-centred service and want to be made to feel valued when they shop in your store. Instead of spending hours upon hours devising the most clever way to sell them something right before their virtual checkout, why not ask yourself instead, ‘what kind of experience did my customer have today with my company?’ or better, ‘did I create opportunities to genuinely listen to their story in the process?’
Social media can be amazing if it isn’t behaving like an egocentric data-collector (I have so many impressions, I had so many click through’s, I had so many retweets, aren’t I somebody?) and instead, reaches across the digital counter and says, how can I help you today David? An engagement ring you said? That is always a special moment we take seriously here, please sit down, and let’s have a chat about what you have in your mind’s eye’.
Stop. Listen. Provide responsive service. Use media to help you make your service better, not your numbers. Your customers will naturally (organically) thank you online and…your numbers will naturally reflect that.
Diamond image from Mario Sarto, via Wikimedia GNU Free Documentation License