What Comes First: The Customer or the Sale?

Customer Service

Renown social media strategist, Mark Schaefer, recently wrote a post which analyzed the decision of a large pub company that quit social media. The company claimed it was an addicting time-waster with no direct impact on sales. Mark diligently reviewed the facts to conclude that the company did not have a true sense of the business value of social media.

This was powerful:

A decision to quit social media may not impact sales, but will it have an effect on customer service? Isn’t it smart to be part of the conversation when people are talking about you on social media?

As usual, Mark is spot on.

Is the primary goal of social media to get sales?

In my last post, I highlighted the difference between engaging on social media and using social media platforms for advertising. We’ve encountered far too many organizations that take the time to get the sale, then drop the ball on the customer service.

Based on Mark’s evaluation, it seems the pub company doesn’t care or doesn’t understand that social media is one of the best ways to nurture existing customers.

To quit social media with the limited assumption that it has no impact on sales is like saying, “I am not going to answer the phone when a customer is calling. I think it’s a waste of time and it’s not impacting our bottom line.”

Social media has far more benefits than generating sales. Properly used, social media can foster trust and build long-lasting customer relationships that will give the business staying power. Happy customers = customer retention, repeat business and referrals.

As a company that specializes in social media management, we make customer service central to our operations. We spend a large part of our day responding to inquiries from our customers’ customers. When asked to rank the value of the service we provide to their audience, our clients stated 9 out of 10. In fact, several admitted that they were lax in responding to social media comments before they hired us. And now, some of their customers prefer to contact our clients via social media because they know they will receive a timely response.

I am glad our clients get it!

How can we change the way some businesses perceive the value of social media? If sales are a priority, social media marketing can naturally lead to a sale for a business that values customer service.

What comes first: the customer or the sale? I believe it still comes down to alignment… Does a business value the customer or do they value the sale?


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