Social PR

The Customer is Always Right

The power of the Internet has had a major impact on the ability of individuals to quickly raise an issue and organize disparate individuals around the world.

-Patricia Swann, Cases in Public Relations Management: The Rise of Social Media and Activism

Good consumer relations are invaluable to companies. This breaks down to two “areas of concern:” support for marketing communication efforts and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships with the consumer.

The first deals with building a customer base for whatever the company is selling: products or services. Traditionally, this was done through paid commercial ads, both TV and print. Now, more consumers are using newer forms of media, like social media. In addition, consumers now have shorter attention spans than before and are learning to tune things out. This means companies need to be more creative in promoting their products.

For example ABC Family is changing their name to Freeform. They’ve been advertising this through a rebranding campaign that has consisted of photos, video commercials and tweets. The commercials they’ve aired are short and sweet.

As you can see, they display consistency among their ads and they show they are tailoring their ads to their target audience. They are using both traditional media (video commercials that play on TV) and new media (Twitter).

Simply running a television ad is no longer sufficient because it doesn’t guarantee that people will watch it. People can now record shows on their DVR and watch them at their leisure and skip the commercials. We scroll through countless ads when we’re on the Internet. This makes word of mouth even more important, in my opinion, because I’m more likely to stop and read what my “friends” say or share than to watch something just because.

Once a company successfully builds a customer base, maintaining that base is vital to their success. I once read, in a different class, that dissatisfied customers share their experience with something like nine or more people. Satisfied customers only share their experience with four. (Also, I wasn’t 100 percent sure I wasn’t making things up, so I found an article to corroborate my memory. Read it here.) The same article said that people who have a bad experience might not complain, they just won’t come back.

In addition, most people who complain, just want to feel heard. A different book for a totally different class mentions that most people react well when they feel like they are being heard. They way today’s media works, people all over the world can get information from anywhere else. This makes complaining customers even more dangerous because technology makes it easy for disgruntled consumers to band together without actually knowing one another. Clearly having good consumer relations is important.

As PR professionals, our job is to make sure that the consumer is appropriately accommodated, not taken advantage of and make sure that they feel heard on behalf of the company we represent.


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