Originally posted at SheSpeaks

In today’s fast-paced, ever changing environment, most brands rank poorly when it comes to customer service. We might argue that it’s to be expected, since change is now more constant than ever… but the hard truth is that if we don’t excel in customer service, our brands will become just another nameless part of the noise out there.

Customers are no longer willing to wait around for us to get our act together, and even if they were willing, we can no longer afford extended timelines for change. Let’s put it into perspective – what if I told you not to expect to even be doing the same thing in 2 years that you are doing today?

Suddenly you can see that it is to our advantage to operate within the customers super-turbo-fast timeline now.  But how to do that and still provide excellent customer service??  Those two goals are not as diametrically opposed as they might first seem.

Customer service is not just making sure returns are processed correctly, or customer frustrations are smoothed over.  In this new social media era, customer service now carries the expectation of continually proving to your customers that you VALUE them in all stages of the sales cycle… from product conception to developing and honing brand personality and promises, to sale, to after-sale satisfaction, to the resulting repeat sales.  All to start over again in the change cycle with a re-evaluation of the product and possible reconcepting.

The key is to involve your customers in meaningful ways through all aspects of the sales cycle. Online communities are one of the best ways to do this.  Those communities set up an environment of trust among the brand, marketers, and community members, and provide the technical features required to allow the conversations to stay in the foreground and the technology in the background.

Ask your customers what they want from your brand, your products and services.  Ask your customers how you’re doing, and what they want to see changed.  Ask your customers to rate their satisfaction AND to tell you stories about their experience with your brand, products and services.

Then go do something about it.  Make the changes.  Step into the future as soon as your customers tell you what it looks like!

Seek out and embrace change – look to the future through your customers’ eyes and you just might get there before everyone else!

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