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Direct conversations with customers allow organizations to become public resources on areas of expertise. This happens in at least two ways: (1) through engagement, or social components, and (2) with valuable content, which is where I see a future for marketing.

Today every company has the opportunity to extend the reach of its social responsibility involvement by going social - on the Web or off line, as needed. Imagine for example a health care organization whose mission is to make a difference in its community and what it could accomplish by allowing its non profit beneficiary participating clinics to open support pages for patients and from patients.

There is a case study about CarePages in Groundswell that illustrates this point very well. This is a specialized blogging system designed for patients so that they can receive communications from family and friends and post updates of the clinical condition of their dear ones.

Plus, enabling this kind of customer conversation through your system decreases your support costs. An average call to a company’s call center costs $6/7, technical support calls cost $10-20 (source: Elizabeth Herrell, Forrester’s expert on contact centers).

Companies that have provided self-service information and outsourced their call centers saved money in the short term and decreased customer interest and engagement in the long term.

The other way customer conversation can lead to conversion is through valuable content. A company that provides a lot of well-researched data and information, as well as shares great information from the industry, can easily become a hub, a destination.

This is where marketing switches from mere pollution of your attention waves to organic contributor - would it be fair to say carbon neutral?

An example is Johnson & Johnson family health institute in China. The site helps educate mothers about family health, and funding schooling for nurses. No doubt, it also helps form a connection with customers, the outcome of which is brand loyalty.

Customer conversation can be the keystone of your marketing through engagement and content. There are multiple ways to do that, depending on who your customers are and what business you’re in. It begins with the willingness of an organization to become a public resource on areas of expertise.

Valeria Maltoni | Conversation Agent