Is Social Media Helping or Hurting Relationship Building?

Regardless of what type of business you’re in, it’s fair to say that the phrase “customer is king” is probably your #1 thought. Whatever you build, create, manufacture or whatever service you provide odds are you are selling something to someone else. Heck, in PR we “sell” our story ideas to editors who in many ways are our customers. But really, how many of us truly focus on making sure that we understand our customers and use that information to improve our performance?

Recently I ran across an interesting post on the Customer’s Rock blog by Becky Carroll titled “The Importance of Customer Listening.” Check out the examples of excellent customer service that she shared:

At Lands’ End, professionals had to help out in the warehouse, or on the phones, during the holiday season and during bad weather. You learn a lot about customers doing that. At Nordstrom, we had to physically work in stores, or take orders over the phone, during major sale events.At Lands’ End and Nordstrom, we learned a lot about customers, by actually spending some time being close to the customer. Both brands are well known for their appreciation of the customer, both brands require professionals to have some interaction with the customer.

I can vouch for Lands’ End personally and my wife can for Nordstrom. There are many other companies out there who not only take customer feedback, but they share it within different departments and make changes based on customer feedback.

In the PR world we have clients, editors and analysts who are our customers. We provide them with news, story ideas and references. In the past this was typically done in one of two ways: one-way pitching (e-mail), and two-way/dialogue (phone call). Both of these were one-to-one. But with the continued growth of social media, our world has become much more of a one-to-many environment thanks to social media tools like company blogs, Twitter and Facebook.

While the wide adoption of social media has in many ways made our work easier, what about the personal connection that is established through dialogue and phone calls? Has this technology improved the way PR pros deliver value to “customers” or has it taken the one-to-one, personal connection out of the equation?

Rob Goodman

Author: Rob Goodman

Rob Goodman is a communications professional with more than 27 years of experience in public relations, marketing and content creation.