GUEST POST: Social, Sentiment and Symbiotic: The 3 S’s to Make Business Relationships Tick

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Relationships can be fickle b#$@%es. However, sometimes someone in the relationship steps up and says you know what, let’s not do this. Let’s figure this out. This goes for business relations as well.

In business relations the business can piss off a customer, or the customer can get upset over nothing. Equally, customers can ruin company aura – constantly complaining, lashing out without reason or using Twitter only to complain. These types of things can bog down even the most talented support team, because it’s mentally daunting.

Social Everywhere

Todays customers are quite the socialites, hitting the online circuit to let their network understand how terrible one business’ service was. Others are hitting the same platforms all in the name of raving for their favorite establishments.

I do it myself, why not? I support these companies and if they want to retain my patronage, they will consider my feelings, good or bad.

Symbiotic Relationships Blossom for Businesses and Customers

Two companies I support understand a symbiotic relationship (Ed. disclosure: I was never comped to address either company, in fact, they don’t even know what I do – at least I don’t think they do). MacKenzie River Pizza here in Bozeman couldn’t serve me or my family correctly. In fact, it happened with colleagues as well – it just was never good. I let the company know via social media, Yelp, in fact. After awhile, the corporate headquarters here in Montana contacted me to apologize. Although I just wanted them to address the terrible service at my favorite pizza place, they came back with an amazing apology in the form of a $100 gift card.

Last week, on my front porch was an apology from a national company – Cascadian Farm. All I did was tweet, and from them I received an incredible apology as well as a “thank you” for being a customer.

Cascadian Farm – when you sell me a bag of organic veggies i expect more than 1 floret #fail cc/ @bozemanfoodcoop

— Danny Schotthoefer (@dschotthoefer) March 15, 2012

@dschotthoefer @bozemanfoodcoop Oh gosh, we’re sorry to see that happened. Can you please email us at

— Cascadian Farm (@cascadianfarm) March 15, 2012

It was never about personal gains, I would have been happy with a sincere apology. But, both companies understood the value of quality relationships with their customers and retaining a customer is better than trying to obtain new ones. It’s well documented that it costs more to bring in new customers than it does to keep the ones you already have. So wouldn’t you want to address their concerns so they weren’t lost to a competitor? Understanding consumer emotion can carry your brand far – sometimes, all it takes is a genuine apology.

Sentiment Analysis

Understanding your customers’ voices can help you gain traction on tweets much like mine. The same can be said for the entire web, when you begin to truly understand the consumer voice, you can curb emotional reactions that convey negativity or you can spread the positive messages throughout your community and create a brand ambassador out of the adoring customer.

It all begins with gauging your consumers’ voices – Viralheat’s Social Sentiment Analysis Chrome plugin gives you a free, streamlined tool that helps you begin to understand chatter. Whether negative, positive or neutral you can see this on the fly, and easily, giving brands the ability to efficiently identify effective reviews or comments. I don’t know if MacKenzie River or Cascadian Farm use this same tool, they probably don’t, but they certainly make sure to gauge the voice of the customer and build quality relationships. They understand the value of social, symbiotic and sentiment.

The blogger, Danny Schotthoefer, daylights as a community manager/digital strategist at a Bozeman, Montana based advertising agency that caters to small and medium businesses. You can connect with Danny by visiting his twitter: @dschotthoefer or LinkedIn.

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