As I mentioned, social media should not be about the hard sell but about outreach: creating a means for customers to interact with you in as simple a way as possible. A typical example happened to me earlier.
I have been thinking about the possiblility of an audio or video element to the blog for a while and felt that Utterz may be the way to go to see if either format worked for me. I duly created an account then called the UK Utterz phone number to record a test that would get automatically posted over to the blog.
I recorded a short piece of audio but on playing it back found that it was virtually incomprehensible - it sounded as though it had been re-sampled, shrinking the length and raising the pitch - a chipmunk with a stutter. Needless to say I deleted the item.
I imagined that it would have been a temporary glitch but, just in case Utterz was having an issue, I posted a message on Twitter asking if anyone had been experiencing problems.
A couple of hours later I received a reply from @chrishanaka who works in a customer service capacity at Utterz asking that I contact him so he could look into the problem. I mailed him the details and then received a response advising me that an engineer had dug the recording out of the trash and was looking at what could have happened.
How's that for service?
Without even having to approach Utterz directly they have been actively monitoring their brand online and have a presence in place to deal with this type of issue. Any company that deals with the public should be heading towards this type of model and converting a negative experience into a positive one.
For every business taking such a proactive approach there will be the competition struggling to build their reputation because they do not take this type of action. Some companies have to a degree been doing this for years by having 'unofficial' representatives hanging around forums that relate to their products but offering customer support using social media as an official channel is exactly the way things should be moving.
Thank you Chris and thank you Utterz.