This is long but I've cut the unimportant parts that didn't pertain to this discussion. Stern needs to read this! It is from an article I found on connecting with customers in both social and standard mediums.
14 Proven Ways to Connect With Customers
Today, there are more ways than ever to connect with customers. ...
Data integration is often underestimated and poorly implemented, taking time and resources.
1. Survey your customers.
2. Use newsletters.
3. Blog. "One of the best ways to connect with customers is by blogging," says Deborah Sweeney, CEO, MyCorporation.com, an incorporation and trademarking service. "If you actively keep up a quality blog, not only will your customers read your blog, but they will respond to your blog," she notes. "This creates a positive flow of communication"--and helps build customer loyalty.
4. Pick up the phone.
5. Go visit.
6. Respond to email. "At our company, we make it our goal to respond to customer emails within five minutes, and the response we receive from our customers is usually something like 'Wow, that was fast' or 'Fastest response I've ever received. Thanks so much," says Giancarlo Massaro, the cofounder of ViralSweep, which provides businesses tools to create giveaways on their website. "How has this helped us? People love amazing customer service and in turn have been referring people to our service, all because of our customer service."
7. Send a personalized note or a postcard.
8. Be active on Twitter and Facebook. "One of the best ways to connect with customers is through social media, such as Facebook and Twitter," says Ian Aronovich, cofounder and president, GovernmentAuctions.org, a site that compiles and provides information about government auctions of seized and surplus merchandise from all over the country.
"With social media, you can reach out to your customers at any moment rather than wait for customers to send you emails or phone calls with feedback," Aronovich says. Use your company's Facebook fan page or Twitter account to "engage your followers and keep conversations going. Social media can also be used as a form of customer service, where company representatives can directly answer customer questions and concerns," he says.
“It's critical to have a social media listening post to quickly respond to each issue that arises," notes Chuck Wall, founder and CEO, Customer CEO Consulting. "You may not be able to solve their specific problem, but don't ignore them. They will give you credit for listening and acknowledging their situation."
9. Use Instagram.
10. Offer webinars.
11. Empower salespeople.
12. Provide exceptional customer service. "One of the most powerful tools an organization has to connect with its customers is its employee base," says Rick DeMarco, managing director, West Coast Operations, Inward Strategic Consulting, a marketing, branding and positioning firm."Every interaction between a customer and employee, whether that is pre-sale, the actual sales process, after sales support or billing, provides an opportunity to either add or detract from the equity of your brand and company," DeMarco says. "Significant empirical evidence exists that makes a direct connection between employee engagement and satisfaction and customer satisfaction and loyalty." So one of the best ways to connect and engage with customers, he says, is to "turn your employees into company ambassadors and brand advocates who deliver on your brand promise and business strategy at every single customer touch point."
13. Go mobile.
14. Monitor review sites. "Whether it's Yelp, TripAdvisor or Angie's List, find out what customers are saying about your business [on review sites]," says Lisa Parkin, president of Social Climber, LLC, a social media consultancy.
"Responding to customer reviews on these popular sites shows that your company is aware of any problems and is willing to fix them," Parkin says. However, she urges caution when replying to negative comments. Instead of being defensive or picking a fight, try to understand and offer to fix the problem or provide an inducement for the customer to try your product, service or establishment again.
Jennifer Lonoff Schiff is a business and technology writer and a contributor to CIO.com. She also runs Schiff & Schiff Communications, a marketing firm focused on helping organizations better interact with their customers, employees and partners.