Who's in control of your business, you or your customers?

Sean Clark, Clark St. James Ltd

Fear sometimes drives business decisions you wouldn't normally make. Fear of the unknown can lead us to ignore market trends and opportunities, not good for the future of the business!

So it is the case with Social Media for many.

A fear of the natural inclination people have to network, to be social, aided by the speed and connectivity the web offers. Suddenly putting the advantage of the in the hands of the customer. A lack of understanding around the psychology of Social Media has businesses confused to the point of inaction.

It's still early days for Social Media and many of the platforms are still developing, but the threat this time isn't just from competitors. It's from the customers themselves. They now have the ability to influence your business and the way you operate, if you don't react positively they may well take control.

A recent example has Hull City Council caught on the back foot.

Dissatisfied with the council's slow and out of date Council House Exchange website, tenants have taken matters into their own hands. Using Facebook council tenants have created the Councilexchange Hull profile*, enabling more than 1500 tenants to arrange their own house swaps.

Although they still have to go back to the official website to complete their transaction one of the tenants told Hull Daily Mail:

"I bid for houses every fortnight and use the council exchange website but don't get anywhere.

"It's easier on Facebook because it is instant and you can message people straight away."

Whilst Hull City Council are happy for tenants to arrange their own exchanges they have obviously been caught wanting in terms of service to their customer, the tenant.

They now have a fantastic opportunity to capitalise on this initiative, learn where they can improve their service and come out on top.

Hull City Council could even look at ways of leveraging Facebook themselves saving time and money, fear of the unknown will probably stop them though.

Are you looking for opportunities to improve your business using Social Media? Or is fear of the unknown giving your customers, and possibly competition, the upper hand?

*The sharp-eyed amongst you may have noticed that tenants have created a Facebook Profile, when they should have in fact created a Facebook Page or Group. A common mistake, made by many businesses too.

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