02/14/2012 11:47 am ET Updated Apr 15, 2012

Customer Service Is the New PR

In the world of digital marketing, brands measure number of visits, time spent and number of clicks, etc., something widely referred as number crunching upon user behavior analysis and evaluation. This is how brands are used to treating people visiting their websites; and if things went wrong they always asked people to email the brand owner and wait to hear about their "queries." People often don't talk to human on the brand side, there is either a form to fill in or call expensive numbers pressing buttons after buttons listing to options after options given by machine; safe for brands but frustrating for customers.

People don't have short memories when it comes to their emotions and personal values. They always have a lot to say but the steering wheel has been in hands of brands; this seems changing with the presence of social media. People deploy the medium to call for shift of power; great news to people but frustrating for brands.

In old days, marketing communicated attractive messages, PR hid past stories by creating new good stories and customer service read from a script often begin with "sorry to hear that...". Thanks to social media and mobile communications, brands can no longer afford ignoring voice of customer and manipulate negative word of mouth by generating "good PR" and pushing negative comments down in search engines; simply because the brand has money to spend on SEO and ghost writing.

Proactive and engaging customer service is now the real PR brands may wish to pursue. Simply because, whatever happened in Vegas won't stay in Vegas anymore, it will travel fast and everyone would know and remember what happened in Vegas. It is worth remembering, good news travels fast but bad news, travels faster. Thus, genuine engagement and listening are key to assessment of brand perception among people.