As businesses rush to use social channels like Twitter, Facebook and others to interact and help customers, the issue they all must come to grips with is how they scale a free and open channel to engage as many of their employees to help the cause.
This is no easy task considering the size of many public companies today. Some have already lead the way including Comcast ( Frank Eliason @comcastcares). But for businesses to really engage customers where they’re living today, it must be an all-hands-on deck approach to truly scale.
Why the technology needed at the enterprise level is growing but not yet there, businesses are scrambling to figure out a way to mix traditional marketing with customer support and advocacy. After all, what better way to show customers what your business is all about than having them talk directly to their customers?
This idea of removing barriers to get your employees closer to your customers is a big one. Today’s consumers are changing and they want to know whom they are dealing with. No longer does corporate reputation or controlled messages rule the day. Consumers are savvy and they want to know and understand the businesses they choose to spend money with.
On the other hand, some employees could be very apprehensive to begin communicating externally in such an open fashion. In their eyes, there could be much to lose. The personal liability in interacting with customers in an open environment could scare many off. It’s up to businesses to build cultures that encourage and celebrate this practice vs. punishing the few who make mistakes.
With the proper training and empowerment, large scale involvement of employees at the enterprise level could be the key to making social media the powerful tool those of us close to it know it can be.
Now, will executives understand that and get on board? Will they understand their messages are now no longer under their control? Will they allow everyone – from a professional PR person to a front-line employee – to speak on the company’s behalf?
If they want to win and show customers who they really are, the answer is yes.