The power of social media is undeniable! In this day and age, any company without an online presence is three steps behind the competition. Twitter and Facebook have become agents of change and 24/7 communication is now possible thanks to the advent of these websites. Additionally, any business needs an online portal in order to survive.
Is interactivity being oversold? I don’t believe so. Consumers may not always decide to voice their opinions online or peruse a website before going shopping. However, not having an online presence is more detrimental than not. What happens the one day that your loyal customer does decide to visit the company’s website instead of visiting the store? Or when a customer contacts the ‘Live Chat’ option for a customer service issue and is put on hold indefinitely? Interactivity is a powerful tool and I think all businesses would be intelligent in investing time and resources into these technologies, as they are the way of the future.
As with all things in life, actions reap positive and negative results. Check out this blog: http://www.sensibleemarketing.com/. One of the mentioned issues with online interactivity is that it is not always positive. However, learning how consumers feel about a product or issue can allow businesses to perfect their practice and improve their products and services. This same exact problem can occur with word-of-mouth communication and negativity is not exclusive to online interactivity. While the scope of online interactivity may be larger, companies always have the option to respond to negative comments and work to correct all problems quickly, more so than they would be able to do so with old-fashioned word-of-mouth complaints. Public relations departments exist and are ready to come to the rescue should there be a company fiasco or problem that needs to be addressed and fixed.
Another mentioned issue with online interactivity is that it is expensive. However, I would consider the allocation of resources into interactivity an investment. For start-up companies, it would not be too difficult to hire a PR expert to handle and coordinate all social media relations. This is a great way to kick-start business and obtain a following. For anyone who has a Facebook, chances are that you have a friend who has a jewelry business with a Facebook page, here is an example of such page: http://www.facebook.com/chic.bracelets. While the potential consumer may not buy every item posted, seeing these products keeps them aware of the brand and one day they might just catch the perfect piece that they were looking for. Another example of how this was done can be found here: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/220354. This is an important tool in order for a start-up business to get the momentum going. Once a company expands, interactivity and the costs associated with it should become less of a burden and more of an asset.
It would be impossible for most large companies to respond to EVERY single customer comment or question, but having an online outlet for these things can allow consumers to speak to one another and help each other out. For those that mention that with all businesses and companies having web presence, that there is more competition, I remind them that competition is what keeps our economy growing and our products and services improving.
While online interactivity is, in my opinion, not being oversold, companies should be tracking the success rate for all online interactivity. In addition, companies should not neglect the importance of brick-and-mortar locations. It is still essential to have a happy, helpful staff; as that can make all the difference for a brand’s image in the consumer’s mind. One company that does a great job with both their online presence and customer care is Nordstrom.
Nordstrom is a fashion retailer that has over 214 stores nationwide. One of the many ways in which Nordstrom has been innovative in serving their customers is through their online presence at www.Nordstrom.com and the acquired website www.hautelook.com. Nordstrom is famous for its excellent customer service, which is not to be forgotten in this high-tech day and age. They have fused their customer service with their online presence to create an unforgettable shopping experience. You can learn more about Nordstrom and how it has grown by reading this article: http://beta.fool.com/saintgermain/2012/04/18/best-way-play-luxury-goods-sector/3711/. To learn more about legendary customer service experiences at Nordstrom, and see an example of positive interactivity, check out this article: http://toddand.com/2007/02/18/legends-of-unbelievable-nordstrom-service/. Lastly, on the subject of online interactivity, have you heard of Nordstrom Silverscreen, which is an interactive media channel for video content? Yup, Nordstrom went there and found another way to connect with users. Read more about it: http://www.internetretailer.com/2005/11/02/nordstrom-takes-to-the-silver-screen.
All in all, I believe that online interactivity is vital and necessary for business. Having just the right amount of video content paired with a navigable website, plus sufficiently active but not overwhelming e-mail list, Facebook account and Twitter feed are the perfect mix for success. Consumers are eager to be heard and companies will do right by listening.