Cultivate customer relationship by being personal

Deep down, people do not want a relationship with your brand or your product. Yes, they love it and cherish it. They develop a strong attachment to it. They feel incomplete without their phone or what they associate with your brand. But it is not a relationship.

When people are involved, a relationship is a connection between two persons. Not a person and a machine, or a person and a concept. Interaction, as a means to cultivate the relationship, is possible if both parties are inclined to feelings and reason.

Today, many companies miss out on what a relationship with their customers can offer. If only for a deeper understanding of the needs and demands of your customers, you might want to reconsider your social media strategy. Mind that I am not talking about your reputation online in general or the number of your Twitter followers in particular as being the sole sign of your success, if any.

Balsamiq’s personal touch

Balsamiq Mockups is a wireframing tool. Balsamiq Studios, the small company behind it, has been on Twitter since April 2008, one month after it was founded. @Balsamiq have 11 527 followers. As they state on their website, “[they] aim to WOW you through [their] support and outstanding user experiences”.

Their strategy is to be a down-to-earth, easy-to-talk-to and overall cool buddy you would want to grab a beer or two on a Friday night. This impression is achieved by being personal—in conversations and the way they invest in the relationship with both their current and potential customers. Here’s how they do it. Balsamiq’s avatar on Twitter is an animated .gif-image with portraits of the team members who engage with people on Twitter. Moreover, they append each tweet that is a direct reply to someone with a signature at the end, e.g. “-Mike” or “-Peldi”.

SJ’s in a tough spot

SJ (which once stood for Statens järnvägar, “National railway”) is a Swedish state-owned company that runs railway passenger traffic and is one of several train operators within the railway system. @SJ_AB have been on Twitter since October 2009 and they have 19,694 followers.

Their main goal for engaging with the Twitter users is to provide customer support. If any, one would deem the arena perfect for personalising one’s replies on the quest of building up a loyal fan base. Especially with the daunting multitude of unhappy winter-season customers that the company has.

SJ claim 85 per cent of their Twitter followers are satisfied (in Swedish) with their presence in the medium. Unfortunately, they fall short of being perceived as willing to take the relationship with their customers to the logical next level. Mere presence does not cut it any longer, for people crave a personal approach.

Watch and learn

What do you want your business to be associated with online? An ordinary customer service that everyone expects of you? Or an extraordinary encounter with your customers that makes them ambassadors for you?

If you want to stand out, watch and learn. Examples abound.

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