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This Is A Time For Leaders To Lead, Not React

Your businesses faces great change. This statement is true about customers, competitors, and everyone else affecting market behavior. The question is, what are you going to do about it?

If you’re reacting, someone else defines what you’re going to do, rather than defining what people need to do.

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Your businesses faces great change. This statement is true about customers, competitors, and everyone else affecting market behavior. The question is, what are you going to do about it?

Customer engagement, and specifically customer engagement in social media offers many benefits that businesses are starting to uncover, most of it unintentionally. While many champions knew in their gut that social media offered business value, to what extent is now something that is becoming a primary focus in 2011 to 2012 budgetary planning. From satisfaction and goodwill to thriving online communities to building loyalty and trust, customer engagement in social networks is revealing tangible advantages. Once champions recognize how to capture activity, document progress, and translate raw numbers into tangible business value, social media will become an integral and proven pillar in the foundation of not just customer service, but the very fabric of business.

For some of you, I’m preaching to the choir. Perhaps this comes across as rudimentary or common knowledge. But in my experience, social media is largely siloed in marketing departments. And for those businesses experimenting with customer engagement in social media, engagement insights and lessons are largely siloed within the service department. I challenge you to extend the value of social media beyond any silo to not just socialize the entire business but introduce new processes, systems, and methodologies that makes it more relevant and adaptive to an increasingly discerning connected customer.

The opportunity before us extends beyond Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, and even in the communities that exist to connect customers to one another in branded forums. The challenge however lies in our ability to translate engagement into either direct or dotted lines to existing business metrics. Yes, we need to look beyond what I refer to as the 3F’s (friends, fans, and followers) to prove the value of social media. But this goes beyond just documenting converting numbers into KPIs that lead to ROI. This is also about translating insights into catalysts for business transformation.

To determine the ROI of social media, programs must be designed with the end in mind and compared to the performance of existing programs using existing measurement processes. Additionally, customers insights and trends must be documented to demonstrate the opportunity to improve customer experiences. For example, you can demonstrate that social media reduces inbound call volume and thus saves the company money over time. But that’s just the beginning. If you identify repeat problems, issues, or trends, your next step is to work with the affected business units to create or deliver a fix. Once this is communicated to customers through all available channels, customers en masse will feel acknowledged and appreciate the businesses ability to adapt to their needs and concerns. What’s the value of that experience?

As I introduced at the beginning of this post, using social media to react is just the beginning. But at some point it takes a shift to not only react, but also lead. Demonstrating the value of social media is our mission in 2011. In 2012, proving the value of the insights learned from customers and prospects in social channels will help connect disparate business units and functions into one connected and adaptive company.

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This is about taking the perpetual switching of social media from on and off to on again and evolving campaigns to that of continuum engagement. A connected customer is always on and as such, an adaptive business must do just that, remain nimble.

Your task is not easy. The case must be made to leadership that there are material benefits in embracing change. To help, I’ve assembled three videos produced by Salesforce featuring my dear friend Dr. Natalie Petouhoff. In each of the three videos, you’ll learn how to build the business case, how to calculate ROI and how to make the cause for an adaptive business.

Godspeed.

Episode 1: How to Build a Business Case for Social Customer Service

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Episode 2: Calculating ROI for Social Customer Service

Episode 3: How Social Customer Service Benefits the Entire Company

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Reprinted from BrianSolis.com

Brian Solis is the author of Engage and is one of most provocative thought leaders and published authors in new media. A digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist, Solis’s research and ideas have influenced the effects of emerging media on the convergence of marketing, communications, and publishing. Follow him on Twitter @BrianSolis, YouTube, or at BrianSolis.com.

About the author

Brian Solis is the author of The End of Business as Usual, a book that explores the changing consumer landscape, its impact on business, and what companies can do to adapt and lead. His previous book Engage is regarded as the industry reference guide for developing effective social business and social media strategies.

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