Customers Want New Relationships

After ten years of pioneering work in experiential social media and ten prior years in the vanguard of ebusiness transformation, I have witnessed a profound shift among B2C and B2B customers: they universally prefer to be treated as individuals, personally. People are re-personalizing the economy: as I’m sure you have experienced yourself, “strangers” collaborate and help each other in digital public, which has changed the game for organizations, which still treat people as demographics.

We all stand at the threshold of repersonalizing our interactions with people because firms that persist in impersonal treatment will see persistent customer flight. Experiential social media harnesses digital’s network and annuity effects to make collaborating with customers economical like never before.

How to Connect with Customers

Here are the main building blocks for shifting your interactions to transform customer experience. They form the foundation of transformation, which always requires mindset change before successful initiatives can be planned and executed. They are integral to CSRA’s client work.

  • Shift your communications focus toward customer outcomes. People buy products and services so they can use them to create outcomes that are personally meaningful to them. Because communicating with people is so cheap now, firms need to reorient themselves to focus on the personal meaning of using their products/services. Firms that make the mental shift will dramatically increase relevance and profit.
  • Recognize that customer service is the new marketing. Most customer service “problems” are opportunities for your firm to help customers get what they want when your product adds the most value. Do this in public, so other customers and prospects see how relevant you are and how much you care. This works best when teams relate to people authentically, without selling or “defending” the brand or product.
  • Grow beyond us and them thinking. 20th century management revolved around “producer” and “consumer” roles in the economy. Firms still regard “customers” as mouths or wallets, not valued collaborators. By adopting collaborative attitudes and actions, firms will unleash continuous, inexpensive innovation at all levels while they significantly improve customer experience. They need an approach to break the rules, without disrupting business operations.
  • Trust your customers to be smart. Digital social enables customers to meet and educate each other about how to attain their outcomes, which includes what products, services, and firms are most relevant. 20th century customers were isolated and ignorant relative to today’s, and most brands still treat them that way by trying to persuade them to buy their products. Shift your attitude away from selling toward educating and empowering—without selling—Customers feel it when you trust and respect them, and selling is often demeaning to today’s customers. Most of your communications are increasingly in digital social environments, so your attitude is amplified. Take the leap.
  • Empower your employees. The days are gone when firms designed static “job descriptions” because today’s business moves too fast and requires flexibility. Defined job structures worked when people operated machines, but now value is produced when people collaborate creatively with other people, including customers. Organizations need to learn how to trust employees to decide how to accomplish their goals. This is the key to 21st century productivity.

Customer Empowerment Examples

chief customer office best of the webTo drive home the point about collaborative, personal interactions, here is our curated real-time feed that includes examples of firms collaborating with customers and people collaborating with each other.