Gary Vaynerchuk: Putting Service First

It’s really interesting to spend any length of time one-on-one with Gary Vaynerchuk.  Usually, he’s dropped at least 2 good ideas that, if you had the drive and desire to execute, you could produce a whole business plan around them.

During the most recent Rockstar Podcast, I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Gary along with my fellow podcasters, Tony Tee Neto of Drophouse Media, Lorenzo Araneo of Screaming Lunatic Multimedia and Jason Jani of Sound Connection Entertainment.  Make no mistake, there are no airs about this man – he knows he is followed and admired by many, but he has a genuine appreciation for each and every person that listens to what he has to say.

How he arrived at this philosophy is really at the crux of his new book, “The Thank You Economy,” which was just released this year.  This post really isn’t intended to be a review of his new book, nor is it a synopsis of the podcast (go read or listen for that!), but really I wanted to focus on some of the ideas of service and how social media has really moved in the direction of humanizing a brand and the user experience.

Gary talks in the book about how we’ve moved from the mom & pop personalized experience to a more “big box” store mentality, where customer service is important, but perhaps, not as important as profitability. As a large organization, a big box store didn’t have to worry about the overall customer service experience because as long as most customers were happy enough, the few dissenting voices didn’t really matter to the bottom line.

Social Media introduced a paradigm shift in this philosophy in that it allows customers to disseminate a bad experience to a whole network of people instantly. Unlike previously, where a moderate customer complaint may have lost momentum before it reached a broad audience, now even minor customer complaints can snowball into an issue.  It’s become paramount for a company to monitor its brand and respond to these kinds of complaints strategically, quickly, and most importantly, sincerely.

But social media shouldn’t just be about the response.  It should also be about establishing yourself as a good listener and opening up conversations with people that might lead to a new relationship for your business. Throughout the podcast, Gary talks about how important it is to listen, because nobody wants to be the person at the party that’s always talking about him or herself.

A perfect, anecdote for this idea of service was when I went out to lunch the other day with my son. He asked for hot dogs, and I had no idea where to take him. Here’s how our lunch played out:

  • Using Google Maps on my iPhone, I found a place I had never heard of before called Jersey Joe’s Italian Hot Dogs (search term: “Hot Dogs nearby”).
  • I checked out reviews that had been written on Google Places
  • My phone guided me to the place
  • We had a FANTASITC lunch
  • The owner later came and sat next to me and my son, asked if we enjoyed our meal and if there was anything else he could do for us.

This place is not a chain, and the food was terrific. But it’s the service that defined it for me. The place was clean, the service was quick, and the staff was friendly.  I would go back.

I’ve also started recommending it to others based on that one experience, and mostly just by word-of-mouth. As a result, that owner will have more customers come visit him, just because he spent a few extra minutes talking to me.

Really, that’s what social media requires in order to go from a perception of mediocre customer service to really excellent customer service. It’s all about engagement and sitting with your customers for a while and talking with them. You may find out you have what they need to make them happier than before you met them.

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