“A World Gone Social” by Ted Coine and Mark Babbitt is a call to action to adapt and to adopt the technological communication tools that customers use to inquire, complain or praise. Within minutes, a comment or complaint can reach one person, or two, or thousands – regionally, nationally or globally. Coine and Babbitt give the reader a reality check on how the world of business has changed for the better and for the worse, and how to manage social media to improve and establish customer relations to create satisfaction and loyalty.
Social media has blossomed and is less than a generation old. Customers have new power tools that need to be appreciated and understood. To illustrate this point, the book shares the following two cases that went “viral” and backfired causing embarrassment and backpedalling apologies by two major companies:
When Bank of America announced a $5 monthly fee for its customers, an online petition by an outraged 22-year-old graduate student snowballed into 150,000 signatures within a week and doubled to 300,000 signatures in the following week. It was quickly picked up by The Washington Post and NPR. The negative publicity was toxic. Within a month, Bank of America conceded and announced it would cancel the $5 a month proposed fee.
Southwest Airlines also learned a customer relations lesson when the cabin crew kicked actor Kevin Smith off a flight for being overweight. Smith tweeted a series of angry “colorful” messages to his one million followers on how the airline had embarrassed him. The mainstream media including CNN, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal picked up the tweets and multiplied the audience. Southwest Airlines made a public apology shortly after and compensated Smith for the incident.
Here’s the lesson: the age of social media is a game changer. You must be prepared. Swift retaliation by a customer can spread like wildfire. You must respond quickly and positively. On the positive side, social media can be the vehicle for customer satisfaction and loyalty if responses are quick and upbeat.
Although the book is full of up-to-date useful information, I found it a hard read. Instead of developing and explaining useful social media details and its various options, the content is chaotic. It branches off to numerous subtopics and is excessive in promoting new organizational design and structure. The book could have easily been divided into several smaller books on management, customer service and leadership topics.
The chapters are heavy with information and paragraphs are chunky and long. There are no visuals –yawn. The technical jargon was “geeky” in places and the book would benefit by including a glossary of terms.
That said, the book has value and kindled my interest to consider more social media options beyond texting and email. The authors’ website (www.AWorldGoneSocial.com) provides a good overview of the book and access to the authors.