Social Media is fundamentally different from traditional media in the fact that it is open and allows for bi-directional and peer-to-peer communication outside the control of the marketer. The shift to new media requires us to review some of the processes we use in marketing.
Customer Service is the new Marketing
We have segmented companies in departments dedicated to “influence” customers before the sale and others to listen to or “handle” customer problems after the sale. That segmentation optimizes organizations for efficiency, but offers an often inconsistent experience for customer as they evolve through the life-cycle from prospect to buyer to satisfied and loyal customer to brand advocate.
In the Social Business era, customers demand a better experience. The person representing the company in any customer interaction must be empowered to answer a question, solve a problem, collect feedback and satisfy a need on the spot.
Being able to communicate across multiple channels is no longer enough, you must be capable to switch between channels without losing context or dropping the ball.
This change will stress current business models and requires changes in how we engage with prospects and customers.
8 Checkpoints for customer engagement
Only you know what applies to and works for your business, but here are a few points to consider when re-evaluating the way your company engage with customers.
- Speak like a Person! Customers can see through the marketing messages and detect the intentions behind them. Communicate as transparently as possible and use direct language. Avoid marketing-speak.
- Recognize the value of relationships. It is not only the sum of the transactions. We need to add to that the co-creation value (product and marketing insights) and all the other transaction influenced by the person over the life of the relationship. Don’t think about the size of the deal, but how much value the customer brings to the company over time.
- Go where customers are. It can be online forums or social media sites. Employ social tools embedded in your Sales/Marketing systems to scale human interactions. Automation is good for back-end processes, not for customer relationship.
- Own customer engagements. You might be outsourcing Customer Service or sell through indirect channels. Having other entities engage with customers on your behalf is fine, but you need to own the relationship with end users, or your competitor will.
- Open your Knowledge Base. Your KB must be open to external contributions and accessible so that customers can self- and peer-help, saving your resources to deal with the instances where specific action is required. The social customer often knows more about the product than the vendor itself.
- Open your product design process to include customers. I don’t mean just having a product manager collecting use cases from anecdotal customer interactions. I mean truly open the process using social computing technology if necessary so that customer can help to co-create the solution, offer suggestions, prioritize features in a continuous and iterative engagement.
- Operate in Real-time. If a customer is unhappy, you want to know immediately, before she influences 10 other prospects. A happy customer becomes a brand advocate.
- Turn Marketing into a Resonance Chamber. We already know that the best way to convince a prospect is to have the endorsement of existing reference customers. Connect your happy customers with your prospects, be in the conversation and resonate/amplify it. That is the new role of marketing.