Handling today’s consumers takes a “humanized” culture

27Sep11

Social media changed how people interact with each other, this is an obvious fact to both users and non-users, and as a whole our culture has adapted to these changes. But what about businesses that have to deal with these changes as well? For those that were traditionally faceless and just simply used customer service agents to handle problems and interact with the customer, this is no longer enough to keep customers satisfied.

Studies show that 20% of a business’ customers use social media to complain about a product or service. Free feedback should be a great thing, but if a company isn’t prepared to handle this internally, there is no way it can properly manage it externally.

In a nutshell, traditional business culture doesn’t naturally mesh with the interactive style of social media users today, and there has to be an internal change to be able to keep up with all of these people. Maddie Grant and Jamie Notter call this “humanizing,” in their book Humanize. For businesses, this means they are going to have to be more transparent, personally interact, and be prepared to deal with the expectations consumers have for reciprocated interaction.

There are four things Grant and Notter say are essential to “humanizing” your organization: being open, trustworthy, generative, and courageous. An open culture will help create an organization with employees who are empowered to take action and solve problems.  Transparency allows information to flow throughout the organization and for employees to have a feeling of trust with their organization. Employees must also feel encouraged to create new ideas, and with all of the feedback coming in from customers this ability must be there, otherwise employees feel helpless and frustrated.  And lastly, a courageous company is necessary is order to humanize, as they must continue to learn, make changes, and take-risks.

Humanizing is an interesting term, but it also seems so appropriate. Information was easily hidden, not only from consumers, but from employees as well, creating a closed off environment.  Today’s consumer expectations of information to be available and exchanged back and forth, has forced a culture change internally. In a humanized culture, not only will employees be more able to handle these demanding customers, but this will hopefully be conducive to a more engaging environment where employees feel personally accountable and empowered to make a difference.

http://www.kentucky.com/2011/09/26/1897552/humanizing-business-in-social.html

~ Stephanie Smith

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