Coverage on First Day: Analyst Day at Lithium’s LiNC15 Conference

Analyst Day Review of Lithium 

On this first day, we heard from not only the executives at Lithium but also customers. One study Lithium engaged in showed that while 49% executives thought that bad customer experience would drive customers away, the actual number is 89%. Perhaps the value of customer experience and customer service has finally come into it’s own. For someone who have covered this area for over 20 years, it’s great to see. One of the key issues with respect to this is that CEO’s are realizing that because customers will leave, they are expecting someone in their organization to step up to the plate and lead customer experience. Sometimes it’s the CMO, sometimes its the Customer Service Professionals, sometimes it’s the CIO and sometimes, when it’s not happening, the CEO will hire a Chief Digital Officer or Chief Experience Officer to make sure the customer experience is changing and the company will be around long-term. It’s an opportunity that someone inside a company needs to stand up and take on. But it is not without risk.

Rob Tarkoff (@rtarkoff) CEO of Lithium talked about why Lithium exits and why it’s so key to brands. The reason? Customers have extreme expectations. Buyers have forever changed and they want more, want it now and want it easy and enjoyable. Customers trust their peers; not brands. iGen doesn’t want to hear from brands; they want to hear from their peers they trust. They are ok hearing from and working with experts from brands but they prefer peers. The stats keep showing the same thing: 78% trust their peers, yet 14 trust advertising. Yet there is still a ton more money spent in advertising than customer experience. I hope that changes and soon.

Four Main Problems that Get Resolved in Branded Online Communities

Rob explained that Lithium exits to build trust between brands and people by solving 4 main problems:

  1. Helping brands with conversations happening on multiple digital channels –that many the brands don’t own or control
  2. Brands don’t know “who is who” –they need the identity of who a customer is and their passion and problems that the customer needs addressing. That’s why Klout was acquired and is integrated and it’s not just about one’s influence, but also scored by what people are passionate about
  3. Brands have found it difficult to scale to tame the beast of social media; volume of social customer care is escalating and increasing a preference as a channel – it’s no wonder – the contact center is necessary, but not where you will always get the best service
  4. Brands are wondering where the ROI of social is. Most software companies aren’t proving out the impact of social and digital transformation effectively. They are not answering where’s the ROI and the business impact. Lithium feels it is not about likes and impressions – it’s about dollars saved and dollars earned. What’s exciting is how many brands are making money—becoming a revenue engine- using online, branded communities.

More details on the study conducted:

  • 93% of brands believe they are adapting to digital disruption and transformation. But do those solutions really have scale and lasting impact? That’s what is really needed and more difficult to do without a platform.
  • 82% customer have higher expectations compared to just 3 years ago
  • 65% of brands have unbelievable expectations to innovate
  • 58% of brands feel increased competition from competitors.

So what’s the bottom-line?  Lithium feels customer experience is in the power of the platform –a platform that’s build to deal with the customer experience in the digital world. Lithium feels there are 3 parts to this:

  1. Connect on social channels
  2. Engage with branded communities
  3. Understand your most valuable prospects and customers

And customer answers questions and share experiences and brand thus can grow revenue , reduce costs and improve NPS.

What about the acquisition of Klout? Klout provides customer insights that are bases on what people say about themselves and what others say about them. What is important is the people with passion and express that online- it’s what is key to brands and brands need to prioritize customer’s expectations and experiences and the Klout product helps them to do this. Lithium has more than 700 M profiles. Brands need to get to know these folks.

Why Does Lithium Win Deals? Lithium deals with the complete set of stakeholders who participate in a company- everyone who delivers products or service and helps deliver a better overall customer experience. What this means is that customer service is the new marketing and the customer experience and vice versa. The key to creating better customer experiences is a community – peer to peer interactions where internal experts inside a company help customers; external experts (outside a company) also help a customer as well as people inside a brand. This is the total community – branded communities, social networks and third party social networks and what Lithium offers. It’s true that brands that have their own branded communities great better customer experiences.

It’s been a great first day. Looking forward to the actual conference, starting tomorrow! Look for the tweets at #LiNC15

@drnatalie, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research Covering Marketing, Sales and Customer Service to Deliver Great Customer Experiences



#LiNC15 Conference Highlights – Customer Experience Rules the World

Customer Experience is ruling the world. At least parts of it. The conference began with Lithium’s CEO Rob Tarkoff talking about customer expectations. Today’s customers have extreme expectations and that brands are struggling to keep pace with new ways of marketing, bigger stakeholder voices, an explosion of consumer content across every dimension of the web and competition from new (and sometimes unlikely) places. What we don’t always discuss is the right approach to address those expectations and close the brand-customer divide. Using a total community approach can do that—restoring trust between brands and people, helping everyone share better experiences and offering powerful economic rewards.

Customer Experience From Brands

We then heard from radically different brands and how they are embracing digital to exceed customer expectations, create new market opportunities and transform their business. Senior executives from Brooks Running, Comcast, Google and Sky shared their approach to digital, business outcomes and their aspirations for the future. These four companies, digital disruptors, are achieving success and leading their industries into a new era of customer experience.

Business Results

The breakout sessions were wonderful. As an ROI gal, I went to the one on Results. If you’re still focused on clicks and likes, you’re leaving money on the table. Total Community drives revenue. Several top brands talked about how they are using social to recognize purchasing cues, route sales leads and other activities that contribute to your company’s top-line. That’s Total Community approach to achieve business objectives. These brands and their leaders included: Tim Lopez, Symantec, Jared Schultheis, Comcast, Lois Townsend, Autodesk,  Gregg Baker, giffgaff, Nico Henderijckx, Sony Europe, Catherine Kaiser, ‎Webroot and Jared Young, Barclaycard US.

Salman Khan, Khan Academy

And the day ended with a wonderful look into the future of education. Khan Academy is “providing free, high-quality education” to millions of students all over the world, each with their own unique story, learning at their own pace on Khan Academy every day. Sal and the Khan Academy take “Share the experience” to a global level. We heard the incredible story of Khan Academy’s evolution from his tutoring of a cousin using online videos, to a global community of teachers, students and parents, volunteers and donors who passionately believe in inspiring the world to learn.

Are you focused on the customer experience? If not, what are you waiting for? Are you focusing on doing good in the world? It’s about we, not me… Focus on a cause…. your life will change for the better!

@drnatalie, VP and Principal Analyst, Covering Marketing, Sales and Customer Service to Deliver Great Customer Experiences