A well-defined and deployed CRM solution allowed us to see all aspect of our customers — tying in service and sales, social media usage, marketing response and back office data to create a view that drove sales and service intelligence day in and day out. Over the last fifteen to twenty years of CRM, we’ve been talking a lot about customer touch points and tracking those activities – specifically, customer intimacy and engaging with those customers. I worked for a company in the CRM space in the late 90s that coined the term “360-degree view of the customer,” and we were passionate about that – it meant something to us.
Fifteen years later, we’ve reached an era in which the cloud has helped track customer activities across the web that used to be anonymous to most companies in the channel, unless it was an abandoned cart, and even then we didn’t know a lot many times. The actual experience your customers are having with your brand to the point where 360-degree view of the customer isn’t a noble enough goal. We’ve actually reached a point where the art of the one to one conversation we aspired to in the late 90s is a reality due to the social media tools we have at our fingertips. People become customers of your brand as soon as they see a post on Facebook, Retweet a Tweet or read a blog. What this means is your brand has been taken over by your customer’s experience. Your ability to serve customers or prospects (i.e. people) in a human, conversational way, directly impacts how much you can sell to them at the right perceived value from consumers.
People connect with people. People connect and find information in a millisecond with the social media tools today. Information about your company and brand is out there and in some cases out of control.
What people are interested in from companies is less about the company and more about the experience your company creates for people. As we move into the next generation of conversations between people via the social channels we use – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, etc. – it personalizes your brand.
They want to know there’s a person behind the conversation.They want to know that person is taking the time to listen and learn something about them. They don’t want to feel like they’re talking to a bot, or an outsourced call center/telesales agent in some other country thousands of miles away.
That’s being human. If your company approach isn’t geared towards that intimate one to one customer conversation and learning about that individual, then your competitors are going to do it instead. When that happens, it’s much harder to win your customers back. Your competitors will have already cemented the representation that they care, even if you end up doing it better later.
The time to sit down and spend the money, energy and effort into learning about how your customers want to be serviced – and ultimately really the core fundamentals of the marketing conversation you need to have — is going to help you figure out how you’re going to make that connection with them. That conversation will help you complete the cycle – you will now be able to deliver the right product, at the right price, to the right consumer with the benefits that you learned from that conversation. Companies are doing it in many industries, and the benefits of their personalization, and their genuine “interest” in have conversations with other human beings is making a difference.
Ultimately, a conversation is social in nature. This isn’t new stuff. Great companies have been doing this for hundreds of years. And the companies who are going to flourish in the next ten years are those who figure out how to integrate social platforms, marketing platforms, and service platforms into a holistic contact strategy that starts presale – before someone buys your product or service. When you hear the nuances in those conversations, that’s the differentiation you need to create a strong social company built around a platform that is both technology and human – a platform that can enable conversations with other human beings that want to use or buy your products which in return will help their corporate or personal lives for the better. That’s the goal that we should all have, both as marketers and customer service people.
Social media is the new service. Service is the new marketing. What are you doing to start a conversation that someone cares about?