2011 is clearly almost done and dusted and if you do not have plans for 2012 then you are in trouble because it is almost here. Indeed times move fast and all this comes with so many changes that we are expected to adjust to or get crashed by the speeding train of change.
Only a few years back, the people who had amazing typing skills on the legendary Olivetti typewriters ruled the literary world but they were soon rendered useless thanks to the era of computers that seems to always be on the move. Already this year, more iPads have been sold than Dell computers both laptops and desktops.
When it comes to companies and customer relations, there was a time when it was a must for a company to have a suggestion box somewhere on its premises. The box was where clients were expected to write and drop complaints and compliments about the company or institution.
Here in Rwanda we hardly have the culture of discontented clients demanding to see the manager to report poor service on the spot, so the best bet was always the suggestion box. However this was not so effective since sometimes you had no pen and paper or even the time to sit and write down something often just opting to walk out and go home.
Normally the box would be placed in the open and some would shy away from walking towards it to deliver their message for fear of being seen especially by the staff of the company. In other places the box seemed like a decoration, hardly ever used and hardly ever checked by the staff who I suspect would not even deliver all the contents to their bosses.
Fast forward to 2011 and there is a new weapon for clients who need to put their message across so that the company can treat them better the next time. The tool is social media. Companies that think they can still get away with poor service are simply underestimating the power of social media.
If I walk to a bank for instance and the lady at the counter is talking on the phone instead of attending to me I can simply reach for my phone and post something on my Facebook wall and thus instantly sending them message to my over 900 friends. In an instant, others will comment about how lousy the bank is.
The other option is posting (or tweeting) something on my Twitter feed. My over 350 friends will see the complaint and if one retweets it then it will be seen by all the followers of that person. In an instant the company whose staff member is engrossed in a conversation with her friends will not know how much damage she is causing the company’s reputation.
The danger here is that unlike the suggestion box, my complaint is going straight to other clients and prospective clients and therefore the damage leaks faster this way. The advice I give to companies is two way. One is that you need to get to grips with social media now. More importantly, you need to treat your clients with more dignity and efficiency to keep them from telling the whole world what a lousy company you are.