Social media has given customers a louder voice and moved their concerns from the periphery to the center. With more people actively using social media platforms, a digital first approach is the new normal.
That’s given rise to “Consumer Managed Relationships,” in which companies are challenged to by users who want seamless support by all staff and to be able to control and access their data — a big shift from the standard Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) like Salesforce.
“The customer doesn’t care what department you work for,” said Maggie Fox, Toronto-based Senior Vice President Digital Marketing for SAP, at this month’s Phorum conference. SAP is a global technology solutions company with offices in Newtown Square.
Customers empowered by the social web expect any brand’s communication to resolve their issue. Now leading companies are creating internal systems to quickly triage problems, sometimes as they are happening.
In response to consistent call center customer complaints, T-Mobile launched T-Force to handle the inflow of complaints. Through social listening tools and targeting key pain points, T-Mobile used social context to move “resolutions” rate from a measly “11 percent” to “94 percent.”
Customer experience maps are integral to improving service, Fox said. This customer-centered approach helps companies build intuitive services that are “customer in,” not “company out.” By understanding breaks in their system companies are able to significantly improve their service delivery.
Customers want to be “delighted,” not satisfied, in interactions with a brand. Each one is saying, “Tell me a story that helps me understand” how they stand to benefit.
Being a signal amongst the noise
Digital engagement emerged as a buzzword about three years ago, when Brian Solis popularly distinguished between signal and noise. For example, Fox explained, each day computer users send 204 million emails, post 41,600 Instagram photos, upload 100 hours of YouTube videos, and publish 1,000 WordPress posts. Naturally, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for businesses to stand out.
Since “80 percent of B2B sales” start with organic search, Fox said, online visibility is crucial to remaining relevant. Visibility, like effective customer engagement, drives revenue. According to the Corporate Executive Board, “57 percent of sales are completed” before the first interaction with the checkout portal. In other words most significant impression business make on customers happen prior to visiting a website.
When it comes to digital communications, CEOs are often described as being behind the times. Fox explained that they often face internal barriers.
First, mid-level employees are slow to embrace culture change because they have competing responsibilities. Second, silos both concentrate important institutions and wall off departments from participating in culture change.
With more ways engage customers online, there are fewer reasons for brands to be disconnected from any aspect of the customer experience. That means the stakes are even higher for businesses that fall short of this expectation.
“If you’re not findable, you don’t exist and your competitors certainly do,” Fox said.