It has been ages since I last blogged and I definitely fall into the camp of the occasional blogger; perhaps lazy blogger, but I’d prefer to think ‘occasional’.

I want to be more conscientious and dedicated about it, but I know I’m not. I kid myself that I’m still finding my blogging style. Do I blog best (or easiest?) when I write about something that has happened to me that day? Keep it short and sweet, doesn’t necessarily have to have a point, but it’s about something I thought interesting and just wanted to share it with whoever cares to listen or simply stumbles upon my blog. 

Perhaps in reality I don’t really have that much to say that often?

I know I find Twitter a lot easier. Perhaps it’s the shorter format – 140 characters – that’s it. For some reason I feel that a blog needs to be longer, a lot more crafted, with a cogent argument, a well structured beginning, middle and end… 

Likewise, email. Why don’t I find writing an email difficult? It’s less structured, it can be as long or as short as you want it. I don’t feel the same sense of pressure as I do with a blog… 

It’s kind of about now in a blog that I suddenly feel as if – what’s the point of what I’m writing? Who’s going to be bothered to read this anyway? Would I? But I push on through my ‘blog wall’. The end is in sight.

And my point? Not sure. 

The thing is I started this blog with the intention of writing about something completely different: how companies no longer can expect customers to come to them.

Companies have got to go out and find where their customers are at, what sites they’re looking at, what communication channels they’re using, what they’re talking about. And once they’ve found where they are, engage with them there on their customers’ terms across all the different channels. Key to all of this is how well a company understands their customers, and what motivates them, what frustrates them, what engages them, what turns them off…

There’s no magic answer or formula for that I’m afraid. You’ve just got to try, and if you get it wrong try it differently, and if you get it right, try again but do it better. You’ll learn something new all the time. I am. And if your nemesis is this thing called ‘social media’, well I’m afraid to say that’s more a comment about you, than it is about social media.

Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube… they are what they are. Embrace them, because your customers have. Don’t try putting a social media policy together if you’ve never tried any of them. Quite simply, you can’t!

I use Twitter, and I’m finding different ways to use it with customers. But no matter how I use it, I always try to listen and imagine that I’m in their shoes. How would I feel if I was on hold for 45 minutes? How would I feel if I was told that the documents I sent in had been shredded? How would I feel if I had to wait 57 days for a repair to take place and when I got the phone back it was damaged? How would you feel? What’s the ROI on listening and saying: ‘I’m sorry, we got it wrong. How can we make it better for you?’

Don’t use different standards just because you’re at work, don’t hide behind your company’s terms and conditions, don’t try to protect your brand or your reputation above your customers…because quite simply, you can’t anymore.

I’ve rambled on a number of different topics in this blog. I’ve started on one thing and finished somewhere else completely. But there is an underlying theme, I think. And it’s this: Whether it’s Twitter or blogging or Facebook or Stumble Upon or a mix of all of them, whatever it is, understand it, try it, experiment different things with it, learn from using it, and from this try to engage with your customers in a relevant way. Above all, listen and be humble about it, because your customers were there first! You are a guest, and like any party that you’ve been invited to or sometimes gatecrashed, you can overstay your welcome!