During a conference last year someone shared the example of ‘Hilton suggests’ (HS), the web care of the hotel chain we probably all know. This example ignited in me the rethinking of ‘follow up’ from a customer care perspective. How to do follow up to a social media generation? When you are used to write (long) emails as follow up, using direct messaging is very different and require a different kind of savviness. A like or a comment can be a starting point of follow up 2.0.

No strings attached

I liked the example of HS very much because it was doing the exact thing we need to do online. HS was there to serve their target audience and nothing else. Period. Their service was not about them, but was focused on the needs of the people they serve. Although it was clear that the service was provided by Hilton, they never try to ‘sell’. Not even when somebody was clearly staying in a different hotel. They provided care, supported the life story of the people they interacted with by giving very practical suggestions based on their needs. No strings attached.

Of course strings are attached!’ Somebody replied to me when I used this example in one of my trainings. ‘They want them to go to Hilton next time!’ He was right. Hilton wants to generate turnover, but they also understand that forcing people is not selling anything. They follow the principle; selling more by selling less. The same way preaching and sending isn’t reaching peoples heart in the social-mode (see other blog), but listening, speaking to the needs, providing care and support is. Building trust and relationship is the key to reach people on social media and in doing follow up there as well.

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People don’t search for follow up, they are looking for social interaction online.

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Present in Jesus’ name

So how does this look like in follow up? Wherever we go (online and offline) we represent Jesus, through the Holy Spirit that lives inside of us. Just becoming part of someone’s time line can make a change. It’s a spiritual presence. By expressing needs or questions people open their mind for guidance. This is as much as a psychological process as it is spiritual. Both processes are meeting each other when we are present in Jesus’ name. So we don’t need to preach or send a message to have impact into someone’s life. Just be available, be there to serve the people, listen to their needs and provide care is the core of doing follow up on social media. We don’t have to hide our identity (like Hilton), but we shouldn’t force it upon people we interact with online.

Understand

Like we discovered in ‘the essence of social media’ that it is all about relationship, building trust and the principle that people don’t find the news, but the news finds them. So people don’t search for follow up, they are looking for social interaction online. That’s how follow up finds them; finds people expressing their needs and who are ready to start engagement. But be aware. The main goal of serving is never more than being of help and serve, there is a thin line between serving and pushing.

Genuine interest

Acknowledge the need – first seek to understand than to be understood – and connect to the heart of the need. What will happen if we are able to give suggestions that really are based on the need that is felt? Trust is built and people are open to engage on a deeper level. If we are able to keep listening and asking questions, based on genuine interest in the life story of the people we are interacting with special things will happen.

Of course you need strategy to connect with the right people, so… read the next blog.


 

Image ‘Child tending’ by Pink Sherbet Photography on flickr.com (common creative)


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