PRWeek EIC Keith O’Brien discusses customer service and branding at mediabistro.com’s Social Media Panel.
Here’s something to think about next time a customer service line puts you on hold: Online networking is quickly making happy customers a top priority for media companies. Tuesday night’s mediabistro.com panel discussion “The Customer is the Company” brought together top editors and executives at downtown Manhattan’s Tribeca Cinemas Gallery to talk about how tools like Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace have shifted the power of branding from advertisers to customers.
“Customers have the most impact on a company’s brand,” said Thor Muller, CEO of the customer soapbox GetSatisfaction.com. Craigslist founder Craig Newmark agreed, adding that monitoring customer satisfaction not only gives a firm valuable intelligence, but also creates brand loyalty. As Wired contributing editor Jeff Howe put it, “There’s a lot of goodwill that can be bought very cheaply” by being nice to customers.
When it comes to customer opinion shaping brand perception, “it’s always been happening, but you just didn’t know about it,” moderator and PRWeek editor-in-chief Keith O’Brien told FBNY at the post-panel reception. The shift of control that comes with the rise of social media and the communication channels it affords, has been “terrifying, but ultimately edifying,” he said. “Smart companies will tie it into their business.”
So who’s benefiting from service with a virtual smile? Video interviews after the jump.