An article in the Economist made the case for manufacturers, alongside retailers (think Starbucks) and platform providers (think Google), to begin building direct relationships with customers through smart devices.
Retailers have long used loyalty cards and now phone apps to forge close bonds with customers. Similarly, Google is able to capture discrete customer data and use that to improve its products and to generally improve their customer’s experiences. Through smart devices, manufacturers can now do the same thing.
What does this mean for marketers? Most significantly, it means you’re under the gun to create strong relationships with customers. Now, it means understanding your customer journey and the way which customers find their way into and then bind tightly to your products or services via the “loyalty loop,” a sort of upgraded “purchase funnel” that recognizes the value of customer advocates.
Make 2016 the year you embrace your total customer community and think of everyone who interacts with your brand, product, or service. It includes customers, influencers, business partners, and employees, and it’s a powerful enabler of close connections. Why? Because seeing your marketplace holistically means understanding how:
The challenge is therefore to harness the power of this collective set, to consistently deliver excellent customer experiences and build strong brand advocates, and then further enable your advocates…to advocate!
Tapping this collective has benefits beyond marketing gain. For example, you can build your social business platform to measure each of the following:
Here’s more on each one:
Improve margin by reducing costs
Long a standard business driver for social customer care, cost reduction (versus phones-based care, for example) has been documented by many firms. Of course, you can take this a step further: rather than simply offering social alongside other resolution channels, you can actively push customers to social.
Here’s an example: A telecom provider that I worked with in the UK integrated its IVR/phone system with its support community. The company was able to notify customers on hold that a solution was available in the support community.
The result? A documented reduction in callers holding for agents. Callers opted instead to hang up and visit the support community. And, because they were able to observe and track discrete calls they were able to positively identify the savings associated with call deflection. Direct measurement, with no hand waving involved, unless you count “high fives.”
Drive revenue by enhancing sales and lead conversion
Next up, social lead generation. This is built around intelligent listening and domain-experts (employees) tapped to assist social customer care agents. It was an application that’s been waiting to happen and in 2015, it happened. Major brands, particularly B2B ones, are now spotting and engaging with early-stage conversations in forums, discussions, and professional communities where purchase options are being discussed well ahead of the sales cycle.
Again, measurement is key to proving efficacy. By combining social and web analytics, it’s now possible to track these conversations and the conversions they drive to prove real ROI via enhanced sales.
Enhance satisfaction by facilitating customer-led innovation
Finally, CSAT. Customer satisfaction is a clear key in building brand advocates. By engaging with customers, and by connecting customers with employees , brands enable and create conversations that lead to innovation. Consequently, teams are able to craft better products. This is precisely the end-goal of the manufacturer’s efforts (cited in the Economist article) to incorporate sensors and similar into smart devices. If failure can be spotted sooner, if alternate uses can be captured “live” then manufacturers can build better products. Think about how Google Maps uses the GPS data of traffic to optimize your route in real time. Better products means better experiences, and we know what better experiences lead to…advocates!
So make 2016 your year of social business, powered by understanding of Total Community. Make 2016 the year you embrace customers and pull them into your business. Enable your deep expertise to flow to them, and your domain experts, product managers, and business partners to learn from them. The result will be better experiences, and better business results, faster than you ever thought possible.
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