It’s Time to Keep it REAL – In REAL Time!

Customer_Satisfaction_2Over the past few years, “keeping it real” has become a popular catchphrase.  At the same time, with the onset of social networking and gaming, the concept of real time has become even more relevant.

Keeping it real is all about authenticity. Real time is the actual time during which a process or an event occurs, as in “information updated in real time”.

Let’s look at what these concepts mean in the business environment. From a marketing perspective, keeping it real can make or break the lines of communication that you have established with your clients.  Today customer service happens in real time.

Here’s one well publicized example of these concepts in action. In 2009, a Canadian artist named Dave Carroll wrote a song called United Breaks Guitars.  He wrote the song because of a real-life experience of how United broke his guitar and the reaction or non-reaction of the airline. Carroll tried to communicate with  United the day of the incident and then went as far as to file a claim with the airline but was informed that he was ineligible because he had failed to make the claim within its stipulated “standard 24-hour timeframe. His YouTube video has been viewed over 12,865,140 times and Carroll has gone on to write a book about the incident.United received a great deal of negative PR because of their “response”, which cannot have been good for the company’s bottom line. If the United had dealt with the situation, person-to-person and in real time, this likely could have been avoided.

In contrast, Taylor Guitars, the company who made Carroll’s guitar, kept it real and in real time. They gave Dave a new Taylor Guitar, created their own YouTube video and offered tips on how to travel safely with guitars, generating lots of positive PR for the firm.

By today’s standards keeping it real and in real time means being sincere, caring, in the moment and providing an immediate response.  It means dealing with incidents as they happen, not days, weeks or months later.

Whether you are online or dealing directly with customers, remember this is happening in real time.   People want a  response and they want it now.  Communication is the key.  If you are chatting with a customer online through email, Skype or if a client is standing right in front of you, take the time to listen and respond fairly.  Reaction to circumstances as they arise can save you both heart ache and revenue loss.  Customers have much more power today because of social media.  Deal with customer service problems in real time, as real people.  And remember, as captured on Pinterest, “keeping it real is a full time job”.

Do you have a real time plan in your company?  Have you created a real time environment so that you and your staff can deal with clients immediately?  If you do not have a plan, now is the time  to keep it real – in real time.

The Halton Region’s Small Business Centre is here to help you work to make plans and take steps towards gaining success in your business.  One of the goals of the Centre is to empower small and medium-sized enterprises and give you the tools to achieve success. For more information about Halton Region’s Small Business Centre resources, services, including our Access to Professionals program, and how we can help direct you to the right resources, contact us by dialing 311, 1-866-442-5866, online at www.haltonsmallbusiness.ca, smallbusiness@halton.ca or visit us at 1151 Bronte Road, Oakville.

p.s. read here how Delta Airlines uses Twitter to connect with its customers and provide support in real time.

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