How often have you heard, “Your customers are online. You need to be there?” I know that I’ve said it a few times myself. The problem with that line is that it is a half-truth for most companies.
While your customers may be online, other people are there, too. You need to recognize the different types when they mention your company, join your community, and/or mention your business. If you don’t, you’ll waste valuable resources reaching out to the wrong people. Here’s a quick rundown of the top eight:
- The Wannabe – This person hasn’t ever bought your products or tried your services but no one knows it because he is one of your most active community members. He talks about your business, “likes” almost everything you post, and chats with your team members as though they are long lost friends.
- The Prospect – Before customers become the apple of your corporate eye, they are prospects. They watch what you do and say before making a purchase. Some find you, but most have to be found. Search the places your customers and competitors reside to find these elusive people.
- The Salesperson – Wants to become your vendor of choice. She hangs on your every post or tweet looking for the perfect opportunity to introduce you to her business. Most of the time, this participant is harmless. Just don’t expect her to evolve into a customer. She is too focused on her sales mission.
- The Shark – Stalks you on every platform. He may be a competitor, but is more likely to be an extremely aggressive salesman. There’s no ignoring this guy. He retweets even the most boring tweets in a misguided effort to gain entry into your inner circle. He’s usually more annoying than dangerous, but be wary. It’s hard to tell where he’ll go if he doesn’t get in.
- The Ripper – Is determined to shred your business. She may be an unhappy customer, disgruntled employee, or disguised competitor. Her online skills are amazing. She uses them to leave bad reviews on the most popular sites. Usually, she chooses sites that don’t allow companies to reply and won’t remove commentary even when it is proven false.
- The Troll – Doesn’t have a relationship with your company but wants to incite you into a confrontation. Try to recognize him before you respond. Most of the time, if you ignore him or respond kindly, he’ll go away. He’s like the villain that swaggers into a cowboy bar looking for a fight. If he can’t find one there, he’ll move along.
- The Pollyanna – Looks like a dream come true at first glance. She is always chatting about your wonderful company, customer care team members, products, and services. The problem is that no one believes her because she is so positive. Her “never does anything wrong” tales annoy customers and prospects after a while.
- The Customer – Is the person you want to meet online. Customers are real. They come with different attitudes, but they always have one commonality. They have purchased from your company. Your job is to keep them happy. Watch for any thing that implies dissatisfaction and resolve the issues quickly.
Now that you know the difference, make sure that you invest your resources in the people that will help you meet your objectives. Don’t let the others distract you from your purpose.