Talk to them

Enrique Dans. Professor. IE Business School

8 May 2013

The growing use of social networks means that brand images basically depend on what the user community says about them. Hence, talking with customers is now more important than ever.

As the use of social networks spreads and tools like Twitter, Facebook, Google+ become a part of the day-to-day of more and more people, many companies are starting to realize that their name is starting to come up in conversations on a regular basis.

It took most companies long enough to get organized on social networks. When they eventually  got round to it, apart from not doing it very well and approaching them as if they were just another traditional medium, they found themselves in an environment in which negativity was the order of the day. Anything good was seen as merely normal, while anything bad was what got people talking about a company.

Having learnt that trying to keep a lid on criticism was not a good idea, and that replying was the least that a company should do when someone has spent their money on its goods or services (provided that said reply is made with a certain amount of manners and respect), companies are now beginning to see that contact with the client is possibly the best source of improvement and innovation. Social networks are like a permanent focus group: the direct relation with many clients can become one of the greatest assets a firm can have. Brands are increasingly what their users say about them.

Talking with customers works, as does answering their questions, seeing their reactions. Instead of badgering them and harassing them, more and more companies are seeing the logic in adopting a respectful attitude. Relations based on sustainability. Some companies dedicate a great deal of resources on talking with customers if they think that they have interesting things to tell them. Last week, a company spent half an hour talking to me from San Francisco just because they were interested in how I used their product.

Learn from clients. Understand them. Go where they are. Talk to them. It is getting more important to do this by the day.


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