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



Lithium Launches Study: Americans Torn Between Good Internet and Sex: Are Our Values Out of Wack?

Lithium Launches Inaugural Customer Expectations Survey. This study shows how online experiences are essential to American life.  Americans evenly split on whether to give up good sex or good Internet if forced to choose.

My POV: Are you kidding me? What happened to being human? Have we lost our way? Or is this the right way to go? The studies show that multi-tasking actually makes your brain overworked and foggy. Yet every single day we – I – do it. And this study is showing how we are valuing being connected online versus doing something that is so essential as part of basic life as we know the human experience. I’ve been part of the digital world for a long time, joining LinkedIn and YouTube in about 2006. I have been writing about the online customer experience for years. So I am as guilty and responsible as anyone as part of this evolution. But I wonder for my own personal life as well as those of my friends, family and colleagues — if we have gone too far and whether we are over connected?

There’s really no going back, but perhaps there is a balance. We got here, now. And so what are the next steps and where will this all take us? I think balance is key. But who decides what that balance is. If online customer experiences were more effective and efficient, perhaps we’d have more time to do basic human things- like relax, talk to people in person, enjoy a good afternoon at the pool, go on vacation and not look at email… But we have to be mindful about our choices. We have to wake-up and look at our lives and choices. And then make very, very important decisions as consumers / customers. We – customers – need to vote with our feet – and only buy from companies that provided a shared-value customer experience – which is being talked about at #LiNc conference #LiNc2014. That means an experience that provides value for both the customer and the company.

I know what you are thinking. Natalie, you’ve been writing about that very thing for 20 years. I guess I need to keep writing about it until more and more companies actually deliver on it. 

Brands needs to be aware that consumers are getting weary. How can they make the experience better so that they become a preferred destination and provider? If the customer gets too tired and weary, they won’t buy. They will put it off. So its never been more important to look at the online customer experience as a key to whether customers choose your business to interact with – and that will determine the customer lifetime value. And brands need to make sure that whatever PR and Marketing is promising, that Customer Service can deliver it. That is what Customer Experience is – that full customer lifecycle – that should be driving a continuos circle, repeated over and over and over… awareness, interest, consideration, purchase, loyalty, advocacy and referral and repeat continuously… 

The technology is now there that can deliver more than we have ever been able to provide. But does your company have the skills and human capital and leadership to deliver great next generation customer experiences? Here’s more on the study. I think you will find the results fascinating…


The study has data from a survey conducted online on their behalf by Harris Poll in April among over 2,100 American adults who are online that sheds light on how the Internet may be changing the country’s expectations and behaviors. The survey covered a broad spectrum of online behaviors and attitudes, exposing what Americans want from their online experiences and the brands with which they do business online.

Some key findings of the study:

    • Americans overwhelmingly rely on the Web to research big purchases
      • 81% use an online source to research a big purchase
      • Two in three Americans (67%) use 2 or more online sources for their research
      • Nearly 1 in 10 (9%) of 18-34 year olds use 6 or more sources!
    • Two-thirds of Americans (67%) tend to call an “800” or toll free number for help as a last resort
    • Consumers are going online to request help on a product or service—and want responses fast
      • Almost 9 in 10 (87%) have ever requested help online
      • Two-thirds (66%) expect a same-day response to their online request
      • 43% expect a response within an hour
      • 14% expect a response in a lightning fast five minutes or less
    • People may be more likely to go online to praise than complain
      • 61% of Americans disagree that they are more likely to go online to complain about a product or service than to praise it
      • But younger Americans seem to complain at higher rates than older Americans
        • 35-44 year olds are more likely than those age 45+ to go online to complain than to praise (46% vs. 35%, respectively)
    • Americans give Internet a fundamental place in their lives–and are fairly evenly split on whether to give up good sex or good Internet if forced to choose
      • 48% of Americans would give up good sex; 52% would give up good Internet
      • But age and gender seem to play a role in how Americans responded to this question
        • 57% of US women would give up good sex versus only 40% of US men who would do so
      • 57% of US women would give up good sex versus only 40% of US men who would do so

Lithium has created an infographic that summarizes the key findings from this survey. The infographic is available for download here.

This Lithium Customer Expectations Survey from Nielsen reflects similar research findings Lithium uncovered in a Millward Brown study last October regarding customer expectations unique to their Twitter experiences. A summary of that study is available online at

Connect with me on Twitter at @DrNatalie and let me know what you think!
Skype: drnatalie007 | LinkedIn | Google+

Catch my latest:
• Thoughts at 
• Upcoming book series: “7 Steps To Digital Customer Experience Mastery” (working title) 

Constellation’s 4th Annual Connected Enterprise 
The Executive Innovation Conference | October 29th-31st

Half Moon Bay, CA | Ritz Carlton


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