How to Improve Customer Service by Dr. Natalie (Part 7) And Reduce Call Volume

Force Multiplier #2: Reduce The Impact Of Customer Service Call Volume Explosions By Utilizing Social Customer Service

Customer Service Your Guide to Integrating Social Media to the Customer ExperienceYour Customer Service organization is highly trained to interact with customers via all channels of communication and from a common knowledge base. Therefore, using Customer Service to oversee social media activity is not a stretch. For the whole story on how to use the OODA Loop as a unique way to use Social Media to improve Customer Service, download the white paper here. Or read on… In fact, in some companies, staff is already out there doing it. You’ll want to consider creating social media governance policies and social media Customer Service training required. Using a search engine, search on “social media policies” and you’ll see that hundreds of companies have put their social media policies online. This is a great resource for you and can provide you with a benchmark of what companies are actually doing.

The idea here is to leverage some of the highly skilled individuals from your existing Customer Service team to use social media to identify brewing service problems. Studies show that companies who use social customer service can head off an disaster that would have resulted in

Customer services

Customer services (Photo credit: gordon2208)

hundreds if not thousands of calls to the call center. It can be as easy as putting out a post in Twitter and/or on Facebook to say you know there’s an issue and you are working to resolve it. And companies also place links to solutions, where customers can go and get self-service or updates. What customers want to know is that you are paying attention and you have their back.

Conclusion? Adding social media is a natural extension of what customer service agents already do. Force Multiplier #2: reduce the impact of customer service call volume explosions by utilizing Social Customer Service.

For the whole story on OODA Loop and How to Use Social Media For Business download the white paper here.

Learn. Share. Grow!
@DrNatalie L. Petouhoff

For more info on my work:
Ebook
:Social Media ROI

Social Media ROI YouTube Videos:
Video 1: Building the Business Case for Social Media
Video 2: How to Measure the ROI of Social Media

Video 3: How Social Media Benefits the Whole Company

Book on Monetizing Facebook: Like My Stuff: How To Monetize Your Facebook Fans

Let’s Connect here:
Twitter:
@drnatalie
LinkedIn: DrNataliePetouhoff
G+ : Google Plus posts

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How to Improve Customer Service by Dr. Natalie (Part 6) & Reduce Customer Service Costs

Force Multiplier #1: Use Social Customer Service To Reduce Customer Service Costs

Customer Service is in an “always on” state and is available to your customers.

Customer Service Your Guide to Integrating Social Media to the Customer ExperienceIn social media there is a ratio people who interact. That ratio is about 1% post, 10% interact and 90% who read. That ratio can vary depending on your type of company, the industry you are in and the type of products you sell. The main thing to know is that the ~1% or brand evangelist are already talking about your company online. They love your products and their hobby is often to know as much or more about your products than even some of your best thought leaders or engineers. They get street cred with their followers (the 10 and 90%) by being the “expert” and “go-to” resource in their field. For the whole story on how to use the OODA Loop as a unique way to use Social Media to improve Customer Service, download the white paper here. Or read on…

When the 1% engage them, they are more than happy to provide answers—and great answers—sometimes better answers than your own staff. Some companies are worried about interacting with evangelists because they might not give the right answers. In communities that are strategically set-up, the customers can vote on whether an answer actually helped them. When you have hundreds of people voting on an answer, you don’t have to worry about accuracy of the answers. The crowd tends to allow the right things to float to the top! Using brand advocates can help to reduce the calls to the contact center, provide better information for your knowledge bases and thereby make your agents smarter and able to handle questions faster.

For the whole story on OODA Loop and How to Use Social Media For Business download the white paper here.

Learn. Share. Grow!
@DrNatalie L. Petouhoff

For more info on my work:
Ebook
:Social Media ROI

Social Media ROI YouTube Videos:
Video 1: Building the Business Case for Social Media
Video 2: How to Measure the ROI of Social Media
Video 3: How Social Media Benefits the Whole Company

Book on Monetizing Facebook: Like My Stuff: How To Monetize Your Facebook Fans

Let’s Connect here:
Twitter:
@drnatalie
LinkedIn: DrNataliePetouhoff
G+ : Google Plus posts

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How to Improve Customer Service by Dr. Natalie (Part 5) – Why It’s a Force Multiplier for Your Business

Customer Service Your Guide to Integrating Social Media to the Customer ExperienceWhy OODAing so Important to Social Customer Service?

Social Customer Service As a Force Multiplier

In keeping with the military theme, integrating Customer Service with social media can become the force multiplier for your business. First, let’s define the term “force multiplier.” Its pretty much what it sounds like.

In military terms, a force multiplier multiplies the effect of the existing forces. It ascribes a greater value to the same number of assets. This brings new math principles into play, where 1+1 provides a higher value than 2.

For the whole story on how to use the OODA Loop as a unique way to use Social Media to improve Customer Service, download the white paper here. Or read on… A force multiplier is also a factor that dramatically increases or “multiplies” the effectiveness of an item or group—in this case, Customer Service. It is the way social media is used in Customer Service that extends its benefits to all parts of the business. Imagine having the know-how and tools in your service organization that can propel your whole business forward exponentially

While many departments touch the customer experience, studies show that the place where customers end up the most angry with a company are the experiences they have with Customer Service. And because Customer Service interactions are where the company learns about its products and services, meaning it’s the one place where customers call the company to give it feedback, it is the department most suited to following an OODA process.

This is true whether the feedback comes from phone calls, chats, emails or social channels.

For the whole story on OODA Loop and How to Use Social Media For Business download the white paper here.

Learn. Share. Grow!
@DrNatalie L. Petouhoff

For more info on my work:
Ebook
:Social Media ROI

Social Media ROI YouTube Videos:
Video 1: Building the Business Case for Social Media
Video 2: How to Measure the ROI of Social Media

Video 3: How Social Media Benefits the Whole Company

Book on Monetizing Facebook: Like My Stuff: How To Monetize Your Facebook Fans

Let’s Connect here:
Twitter:
@drnatalie
LinkedIn: DrNataliePetouhoff
G+ : Google Plus posts

Setting an OODA Loop strategy puts Customer Service as the key to innovation, change, competitive advantage… Customer Service becomes the reality check for PR brand promises, the ability to deliver key marketing messages and sale promises as well as to provide feedback to back-office functions like billing, engineering, manufacturing, shipping, etc.

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How to Improve Customer Service by Dr. Natalie (Part 4) How Dell Could Have Used This Advice

Dell  Hell is an example of the The OODA Loop In Practical Terms. The ClueTrain Manifesto predicted this type of thing would happen…

Dell is an example of a company that went through a difficult social media experience which resulted in a drop in share price, profit losses and more… It’s not something you would want to happen to your company….

The reason for telling this story is two fold. One is that companies who don’t understand how important it is to provide good service and the power of social media, blogs, tweets, forums, etc. could very easily end up like Dell. And as important as is that message, what’s more important to note is that Dell did finally make changes.

Today Dell has a Social Media Command Center where it listens and monitors social networks, over 25,000 daily topics and posts. For the whole story on how to use the OODA Loop as a unique way to use Social Media to improve Customer Service, download the white paper here. Or read on…

And this does not include Twitter. They look for trends, issues, customer sentiment toward the brand, etc… And they take those social insights back to the whole organization: product development, marketing, sales, communications, and back-office functions. In essence, Dell applies the OODA Loop to its business. It also holds Customer Advisory Panel meetings where it brings in people who love and hate the brand together to learn, “What would be better if…?”

And it has improved its customer relationships created in social media to sell product. Reports show that by using Twitter, Dell sold $6.5 million worth of products and its sales increased threefold because of the more positive comments customers leave in the ratings and review sections online.

Learn. Share. Grow!
@DrNatalie L. Petouhoff

For more info on my work:
Ebook
:Social Media ROI

Social Media ROI YouTube Videos:
Video 1: Building the Business Case for Social Media
Video 2: How to Measure the ROI of Social Media

Video 3: How Social Media Benefits the Whole Company

Book on Monetizing Facebook: Like My Stuff: How To Monetize Your Facebook Fans

Let’s Connect here:
Twitter:
@drnatalie
LinkedIn: DrNataliePetouhoff
G+ : Google Plus posts

 

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How to Improve Customer Service by Dr. Natalie (Part 3) And Make The Right Changes, Quickly

Interaction of Boyd OODA loop with command

Interaction of Boyd OODA loop with command (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Social Customer Service: Iterating How You Provide Service to Customers

In the last post, I talking about John Boyd and how his OODA Loop was a good way to think about the benefits of social customer service. John Boyd was a great fighter pilot who came up with a system to duplicate making such good decisions. I talked about how you could learn from the system he created to make better business decisions — especially in customer service. For the whole story on how to use the OODA Loop as a unique way to use Social Media to improve Customer Service, download the white paper here. Or read on…

We covered the Observe part of the OODA Loop- Observe, Orient, Decide and Act. You might have caught my webinar on Social Customer Service as the Force Multiplier which goes into this in more detail.  Here we look at whether you listen and act on customer/employee feedback. And do you do it faster than your competitors?  And can you tell if you are we on track? One of the things that is happening in the lean-start-up movement is the ability for businesses to be agile, to iterate, to fail fast and fix what’s not working quickly…

In military operations, OODA takes place in seconds. In corporations, it’s much slower. In fact, the current year’s strategy is rigidly followed till next year’s planning cycle. What companies need to consider is that with the real-time web, waiting a year to make a change is too slow. In fact, waiting a month or a week may take a customer service issue, spread by social channels, into a PR nightmare. Consider stories like United Breaks Guitars as one way that customers are fighting back against what they perceive is poor customer interactions. It’s critical to validate we’re on track or correct it. Especially in the Age of Social Business.

Full diagram originally drawn by John Boyd for...

Full diagram originally drawn by John Boyd for his briefings on military strategy, fighter pilot strategy, etc (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The other thing to consider is whether you take feedback, fix what is not working and then repeat that process over and over? In OODA theory, its It not just about going through the OODA loop once. It’s about seeing the OODA Loop as a continuously, on-going process. And then the result of your actions provides the observations to reorient what you decide to do next. Most companies think of Customer Service as a cost center. But what if Customer Service was a way to preserve and generate revenue? Customers are at the boiling point. They no longer want to take what’s handed to them, especially when it comes to Customer Service. And with social media they have a way to make their voice heard.

If we go back in time, people were predicting there would be a technology that would allow customers to talk to each other. And to talk back to companies online when they are dissatisfied and that everyone would be able to see that negative interaction. That prediction was written about in the book The Cluetrain Manifesto, in 1999. We are here now and this is your opportunity to drive innovation and change in your business.

For the whole story on OODA Loop and How to Use Social Media For Business download the white paper here.

Learn. Share. Grow!
@DrNatalie

For more info on my work:
Ebook
:Social Media ROI

Social Media ROI YouTube Videos:
Video 1: Building the Business Case for Social Media
Video 2: How to Measure the ROI of Social Media

Video 3: How Social Media Benefits the Whole Company

Book on Monetizing Facebook:

Like My Stuff: How To Monetize Your Facebook Fans

Let’s Connect here:
Twitter:
@drnatalie
LinkedIn: DrNataliePetouhoff
G+ : Google Plus posts

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How to Improve Customer Service by Dr. Natalie (Part 2) Using The Management Theory of OODA

Customer Service and The Theory of Observe, Orient, Decide and Act

Customer Service Your Guide to Integrating Social Media to the Customer ExperienceHave you ever wondered why fighter pilots make such good decisions? And how you could learn from them to make better business decisions — especially in customer service.  You might have caught my webinar on Social Customer Service as the Force Multiplier. If you didn’t, here’s the link. In that webinar, I talked about John Boyd. He was a military strategist, a Colonel and fighter pilot. As a fighter pilot, he found that he had to make decisions in real-time. For him and the pilots he trained, those decisions often were a matter of life and death. What he noticed over time was that there was a repeatable process that pilots went through to make good decisions.

For the whole story on how to use the OODA Loop as a unique way to use Social Media to improve Customer Service, download the white paper here. Or read on…

Years later Boyd’s theories became highly influential and used by the military, by sports professionals and by business strategists. In fact some consider his ideas as influential as Carl von Clausewitz, who wrote On War and The Fog of War, as well as Sun Tzu, who wrote the Art of War.

Boyd created a process called the OODA Loop. It’s based on a way to generate the new actions and ideas we need to thrive and grow in an uncertain and competitive world—which, for many companies, is the challenge they are facing. The OODA Loop consists of four steps: Observe, Orient, Decide and Act.

Full diagram originally drawn by John Boyd for...

Full diagram originally drawn by John Boyd for his briefings on military strategy, fighter pilot strategy, etc (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s what the steps mean:
• Observe: It’s the collection of data
–– Make use of the best sensors and other intelligence available
• Orient: It’s the analysis and synthesis of data
–– Put the new observations into a context with the old
• Decide: It’s determining a course of action
–– Select the next action based on the combined observation and local knowledge
• Act: It’s how you take action on those decisions
–– Carry out the selected action, ideally while the competitor is still observing your last action.

Do you have systems to monitor/measure what employees and customers know, think and feel about how customer service is provided and how the rest of the business operates? And do you take that information and integrate it into your company and make improvements that deliver better products, services and, in particular, better customer service?

If you think about it, this is very similar to what W. Edward Deming was suggesting when he provided business advice to companies. The fact is some companies collect feedback, but that information rarely gets to the right department or person who could make use of it. And then if it does get to the right person, there are not systems or a process to use that insight to make improvements. And even fewer companies
tell customers and employees when they have taken the feedback into consideration and made the right changes. One of the most powerful things companies can do is to let customers know that they care by not only making changes, but to let customers know their voice was heard and taken seriously.

In the next posts, I’ll go more into how the OODA loop work for you and your customer service program and the rest of your company

For the whole story on OODA Loop and How to Use Social Media For Business download the white paper here.

Learn. Share. Grow!
@DrNatalie
 
Let’s Connect here:
Twitter:
@drnatalie
LinkedIn: DrNataliePetouhoff
G+ : Google Plus posts

For More Info on My Work:
Social Media ROI YouTube Videos:
Video 1: Building the Business Case for Social Media,
Video 2: ROI of Social Media,
Video 3: How Social Media Benefits the Whole Company

Ebook: Social Media ROI Myths and Truths

White Papers: Social Media ROI

Book on Monetizing Facebook:
 Like My Stuff – How to Monetize Your Facebook Fans With Social Commerce & A Facebook Store


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How to Improve Customer Service by Dr. Natalie (Part 1) – Using Social Media to Make Changes

Social Customer Service: The Daily, Real-time Board of Directors Meeting With Your Customers

For the whole story on how to use the OODA Loop as a unique way to use Social Media to improve Customer Service, download the white paper here. Or read on…

Customer Service Your Guide to Integrating Social Media to the Customer Experience

Customer Service Your Guide to Integrating Social Media to the Customer Experience

If a meeting like this were taking place at your company, how would you handle it? Whom would you ask to address the group? The vice president of sales, product marketing, someone from the C-level, CEO, COO, CFO? What special message would you create to address their questions, concerns and issues? In actuality you don’t have to imagine the meeting. That meeting happens every day, via the interactions with your customers. It’s in these interactions that your customer experience is delivered. In fact it is being delivered right now, this very minute- in your contact center, but also online in social media.

And along comes social media, and as if your customer service team isn’t busy enough—now you have to contend with Social media (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc) Is social media just another channel of communication for your team to handle? Or is there is a much larger picture unfolding around social media and customer service? Business leaders need to understand how social media affects what you’ve always done- phone calls, chats, email responses and managing other work tasks in the universal queue. This white paper provides a forward looking view on how Customer Service and Social Media provide one of the most important and strategic business decisions companies need to consider to reduce costs and stay competitive.

In the past, Customer Service departments were viewed solely as a place where customer problems were handled and, hopefully, resolved positively. In fact, Customer Service departments started off as almost islands to themselves within the business, left to deal with the customer after the sale was made. Many salespeople would be hard-pressed to locate the Customer Service department. (No disrespect—they were out selling!)

Marketing only dealt with Customer Service, if they needed to, on rare occasions. We know today that the idea of integrating sales, marketing and Customer Service business processes has come a long way with education and the advent of automated CRM systems. Even with the technology to integrate them, most companies still operate functional departments as silos.

Just as the advent of CRM has helped to facilitate the integration of sales, marketing and Customer Service business processes, social media for Customer Service is now taking that business integration to the next level. But to convey the importance of Social Customer Service, we need a new way to look at the value it provides. In the next post I’ll talk about a new way to see Customer Service and a way to determine if you are a laggard or a learner in the customer paradigm.

And, again for the whole story on the OODA Loop and it is a unique way to use Social Media to improve Customer Service, download the white paper here.

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CRM Evolution Conference & Customer Service Experience Conferences – How Social Media Has Changed Everything

I’m looking forward to speaking at the CRM Evolution Conference and the Customer Service Experience Conference

You can find me: Tuesday Aug 14th, 2012 At the Customer Service Experience Conference talking at 11:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. EST about  How Strategic Social Customer Service Generates and Preserves Revenue and also at:

CRM Evolution, Tuesday, August 14, 2012
8:00 a.m – 8:45 a.m SD2: Breakfast With the Influencers Panel
2:45 p.m – 3:30 p.m A204: CRM Solution Sessions

Its been interesting to watch both the CRM and the Customer Service World change with the advent and adoption of social media. While many companies still are not there yet, many have taken the plunge. In the Social Customer Service talk, I’ll be presenting with Kathy Hermann. We work with clients to help them calculate the ROI of their social media initiatives. In particular we’ll look at a case study on how a larger wireless carrier improved the customer experience as well as saved revenue. Its a new concept to think about how Customer Service can save revenue.

The contact center has historically been thought of as a cost center. It really never was just that, but it did end up getting labeled that way. If you think about- the contact center and the experiences customers have- whether it’s self-service / online / with an agent – a customer’s impression of the company is based on that interaction. Having spent time in PR and Marketing – which I did as a strategic career move to truly understand those functional roles / challenges. What I observed is that customer’s tend not to get upset about a marketing message or a brand promise. Where the rubber meets the road is when Customer Service – generally the department that has to deliver on the PR/ Marketing promise- is where the issues come up.  Brands & companies spending millions of dollars are creating a presence in the marketplace and then if Customer Service is not handled well, that brand equity is destroyed very quickly. Bottomline? Often all that money spent in PR and Marketing is wasted because you can’t sell to people who are mad. If PR and marketing’s purpose is to drive the front part of the marketing funnel- Awareness, Interest, Consideration… and convert leads to sales and purchase, then they need to make sure they are working hand-in-hand with Customer Service. Its not ok to deliver brand promises and not fulfill on them. It fractures the brand equity and it reduces sales.

Social Customer Service: Cost Reductions and Revenue Generation/ Preservation

What we found in working with the wireless company was in part was that strategic social Customer Service can generate and preserve revenue. To do that you need to start with objectives and strategy- i.e., you want to improve the customer’s experience – while reducing costs and generating/ saving revenue. And then you need to set-up a measurement program to baseline/ benchmark your “before” state and then measure after you’ve implemented at various points in time.

The end goal of measurement is not to collect a bunch of metrics but to gain actionable intelligence. ROI or return on investment is a numerical view of your strategy. Positive ROI means you will receive more than you are spending on the initiative. Negative ROI means that you need to go back and look at your strategy and determine if there is something you could do better.

Costs: Costs tend to fall in three buckets: People, Process and Technology. These are hard costs and tend to be easier to calculate! You can group people costs into salaries and training. Process costs tend to be oriented towards what are you changing about your business to make the initiative successful. This might be marketing dollars to market an online community. Technology costs depend on what you are implementing- the range can include: the technology itself- hardware and software, community website design, single sign-on, integration to contact center applications, such as CRM or marketing automation software, order management, etc… a community platform subscription fee, analytics and reporting.

Benefits: The benefits of the initiative can range from reducing costs to increasing revenue. This is generally where people have more trouble. The benefits can range from:

Cost Savings
•Reduce call volume
•Reduce email volume
•Increase agent productivity
•Increase FCR
•Reduce SEO cost
Revenue Improvements
•Increase customer lifetime value, including customer retention
•Increase product ideation
•Increase lead conversion rates
In the case study we’ll be presenting, we looked at agent call deflection and customer retention revenue. We created the The Customer Retention Revenue Impact™ Model where we consider how social media affects the ability to prevent problems, fix problems, customer word-of-mouth power and the company’s financial goals to generate and preserve revenue. Data from John Goodman and other sources show that most customers don’t complain before deciding to leave. It’s in part because of the overall state of customer service.
For years customers have been disregarded and as a result customer service has not been delivered in ways that drive trust in a company. Customers expected that when they reach out to a company, they will be disappointed. This apathy is in part why they don’t even bother saying anything. They just vote with their feet. Depending on the company, the industry and the level of apathy of the customer base a company can expect to loose between 2-15% due to churn. This depends on whether they are “trapped loyalty” – meaning they don’t have any other choice- as is the case with a utility company as well as many other factors.
The Impact of Social Media
Most complaints are fixed in the call center or via self-service. Complainers tend to be highly “visible” to others and a company’s social media team has opportunity to fix the percentage of complainers whose issues were not resolved by Contact Center or who posted their issue in the social sphere and never called. But most customers never complain – and rather“suffer in silence.” Social media can resolve issues, and influence “silent sufferers” who  watch what a company does and says in social media. And the affect can have a huge amplification because of the one to many aspects of social networking.

Come hear us talk about the case study at the conference… in the mean time here’s some thoughts around how to set-up a measurement program in your company:

Steps to Setting Up Social Media Measurement Program

1. Gather thoughts on  business goals: Talk with business stakeholders to find out what business goals they want to reach. For example: decrease customer service calls to the contact center or increase sales inquiries or conversions by 10% from social media sources within 3 months.

2. Set Goals For Social Media: Ask your team- why are we participating in social media? Try to get as specific as you can for the following questions. The more clear you are as to why you are doing social media, the more likely it is that you will drive a business goal:

•What percent of your customer base uses which sites?
•How will social media improve the customer experience?
•How will social media help you build and reinforce your brand?
•How will you support agents in monitoring and responding to social media?
•How will social media help you build your knowledge base?
•What protocols are in place to help agents determine when and how they should respond?
•How will agents use the knowledge base to support conversations?
3. Set Up Social Media Measurement Program: Determine what data / measurement process you have. Often times companies don’t have a measurement process for social media. Sometimes the data required for calculations may be housed in other departments. You may need help with setting up a social media measurement program. What you need is a final determination on what you are going to measure and your key performance indicators.
4. Measure and Calculate your Baseline: The first time you try to measure social media, you’ll probably find some holes in what you are doing. The best thing to do is to start. Figure out what data you have and what data you are missing. Check with best practices to determine what you need. We often find that because companies launched social media without a before baseline or without a measurement process in place, they don’t have all the metrics or information they need. But you won’t know that till you put your toe in the water and begin.
5. Adjust and Repeat. As you lean to measure your social media program, you’ll want to make changes to your measurement process, your social media strategy and go through the process again. Each time you measure, you’ll get more accurate results, be able to make changes to the measurement process as well as your overall social media strategy.
The benefits to a social media measurement program are many, but a few include:
•Articulate the business case
•Calculate value & ROI
•Do more of the right things
•Put structure around what can seem unstructured
•Benchmark “As Is” and create a “Could Be” plan
•Justify the plan to upper management by showing them the business reasons
•Track the progress, gather the right metrics
•Assess the progress & iterate
•Create and sustain a world-class social enterprise brand.
Look forward to seeing you soon!
@drnatalie
For more info on my work:
Ebook: Social Media ROI Myths and Truths

Social Media ROI YouTube Videos:
Video 1: Building the Business Case for Social Media,
Video 2: ROI of Social Media,
Video 3: How Social Media Benefits the Whole Company

White Papers: Social Media ROI

Book on Monetizing Facebook:
 Like My Stuff – How to Monetize Your Facebook Fans With Social Commerce & A Facebook Store

Let’s Connect here:
Twitter:
@drnatalie
LinkedIn: DrNataliePetouhoff
website/blog: www.drnatalienews.com/blog
G+ : Google Plus posts
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UCLA Guest Lecturer Charles Miller on Brand Advocates

Charles Miller– those of you who know him on Twitter know him at @ChasMiller, is one of the amazing guest lecturers that will be joining the line-up at UCLA with me. Here’s more information on the course if you want to attend!

I was honored that Charles offered to do a blog post and I know you are going to want to join us at UCLA and hear Charles live. Until then, below is his point of view on the importance of Brand Advocates. If you come to class you will learn how he has created one of the most powerful online, V.I.P. Advocacy communities for DIRECTV and hear about the success they are having. Nothing like hearing from real practitioner so you can go back to your office the next day and start to implement! And now here’s Charles:

Meet Your New Brand Team – The “Other” 1%    by Charles E. Miller

A select few shape the primary interpretation your brand online, and more often than not these are your most avid and connected customers.

If you’re like most brand leaders, you’re unaware of or turned off by these “super consumers”— people so infatuated with your brand that they spend more than 10% of their lifetime income on it.* But these
users can be your most powerful ally and most effective sales force. They promote your brand via blogs, rating websites, YouTube videos, and word of mouth – and in most every case, for free.

More likely than not, you are among the 80% of brand managers that are unaware or unsure of how these power users in Social Media can grow and affect your brand.

Things could be worse. You may catch yourself among the 10% that are aware of these customers, and intentionally ignore, avoid or ridicule them as “crazy extremists” or not a valid representation of your
brand.  You begin to fear that they are “off message” taken it too far outside your comfort zone or that your brand may be moving toward a niche extreme itself, appealing only to these rabid fans.

It is time to recognize these individuals ARE true manifestations of the brand you create and shape. They fully embody some aspect and persona of the brand. The 1% of your customer base is not only ready and willing to share when you are on message but also when you are riding off track or drifting from your core values.

Are You Brave Enough to Listen?
A select few brand teams have taken the step to get to know these customers better — reaching out to understand their motivations to encourage and inform them. They recognize these customers can evangelize to others and defend your brand in moments of crisis. These few also realize social media is not a fad but an invaluable asset available to locate and encourage them. It is primordial. People’s desire to connect has only been enabled through technology and repeats historical precedents from past technological waves of innovation. A true revolution is happening on a global scale never replicated. Yet this time, global corporations as well as governments are the target and can no longer make their proclamations from their respective mountaintops and expect all to comply. No longer can the same returns be realized without transparency, accountability and engagement. In fact ignoring this trend will only materially benefit your competitors who do so.  Social media is the new Enlightenment. It’s the Reality TV of how your products are used, praised or reviled.

You can’t even spend your way out of this – in fact, doing so may only help your competition.

Without a complementary social strategy, corporations are not only limiting the direct returns they might gain in broadcasting awareness campaigns, that corporate treasure is pulling in leads the competition as savvy brand managers that are socially enabled are leveraging the advantage of the category awareness you are bringing to market.

JetBlue Airlines and shoe retailer, Zappos understand this, counting on customer referrals in the moment they interact with and experience with a brand. They ride the wave of awareness to their product category provided by their competitors and preserve their money for the consideration phase of the purchase funnel. The traditional linear buying funnel is now a spiral that directionally amplifies positive or negative reputations built on the recommendations from past and current customers. Ratings and comments consistent with true experiences resonate, energize and convert those on the fence into your new customers or upselling to your current base. Working in reverse, negative recommendations send buyers running for the exits, back to category and community searches when the relevancy of the brand message and delivery is out of synch.

Who shapes these ratings? More often than not it’s that 1 to 10% of your extreme consumers, checking in, rating your service, posting tens of thousands of posts forming and shaping the opinions of the other 90%. And when wronged, every resource is at their fingertips to dig up SEC filings, organize boycotts, wave the flames of class action suits and encourage poor ratings across all the major touch points your customers visit.

If you find this all overwhelming, its cold comfort to know that the pace is only increasing as innovation and collaborative customer innovative communities are organizing, find loopholes in carefully crafted policies and promotions, and unlock how to use your product or service in ways you may never have imagined.
So while intimidating, it’s vital to recognize and collaborate with these avid customers where possible. When you can invite them to the table and clarify confusion you will find they are the ones closing the deal, referring your new customers, and writing the reviews that drive a large part of your business today and with demographic changes in motion — even more so in the future.

As the philosopher Joseph Campbell encourages, “The cave that you fear to enter holds the treasures you seek”

*Source: Harvard Business Review ‘Hail the Extreme Consumer” June 2010 edition

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A Short History of Top e-commerce and f-commerce (Facebook) Shopping Statistics: Where The Social Commerce Customer Has Been and Where We Social Shopping is Going…

Remember the Days of Mom and Pop Shops?

You might not depending on how old you are or if you live in a large city vs. a small town. As a society, our shopping habits have evolved from picking berries to stay a live re: cave man days to… a much more sophisticated level of consuming goods in present time.

The way brands approach providing commerce for customers is also changing. With the social media data on your customers, meaning their preferences and customer behavior data, we could return to the days of mom and pop customized shopping experiences. I thought presenting a short history of e-commerce and f-commerce would be an interesting way to see how shopping has evolved with the latest infusion of social media.

What’s the net-net? Web 1.0 shopping carts are now being sub-planted in some ways by shopping within a social network. Will consumers decide it’s a good idea? My opinion is that it depends on whether brands understand the distinction between “big brother” kinds of pop-up ads related to something you wrote in a gmail or a post you wrote on Facebook. That a consumer writes about something isn’t really giving a buying signal. At most it probably indicates brand awareness and maybe interest or preference…, i.e., the beginning of the marketing funnel.

But whether a customer is a purchaser all depends on the context of how the brand was positioned in the comment, the previous interactions between the brand and the consumer, the customer experiences the customer has had with the brand — most importantly the customer service — because they represent the experience with using the product, getting questions answered and getting help. It’s not that simple to say because someone mentioned a brand they are interested in buying from them! With over 800M members on Facebook, it can be tempting to think that its a great place to put a store…

Facebook popularity. Active users of Facebook ...

Image via Wikipedia

Don’t Creep Your Customers Out By Randomly Appearing in Their Lifestream

Brands will do well if they understand that social commerce and in particular f-commerce requires that the brand, its products and services don’t give consumers a creepy feeling when they appear in their customer’s lifestream. This distinction is key. I know people who don’t like Facebook ads so much that when they appear on Facebook, they let Facebook know its not an ad they are interested – but in this case it doesn’t matter what the ad is, they are not interested any ads because of the way that Facebook determines what social gestures determine when and what ads appear.

Key to F-commerce Ads and Offering Products: Be of Service To Your Customers

The ability to be of service to your customers is the direction f-commerce and other social shopping needs to go. The question is… will brands get this? One person I spoke to said that what would not be creepy is if they were posting that their printer broke. And then if a printer company posted an ad with a 50%  discount, then that is being of service. That would take additional people to determine when a post or social gesture was an actual buying signal or whether it was just a post — that or very intelligent technology.

Here’s a short history of e-commerce and f-commerce. This might give you perspective on what has been and what direction we, as an industry of social media advice givers, need to go — with their people, process and technology for social customer commerce.

A Short History of E-Commerce

The idea of offering things for sale online has come a long way. Below is a little history from wikipedia’s rendition of electronic commerce. This should give you some perspective of where we have been and put where we are going into context:

•            1979: Michael Aldrich invents online shopping

•            1984: Mrs. Snowball, 72, is the first online home shopper and Gateshead SIS/Tesco is first B2C online shopping solution

•            1987: Swreg begins to provide software and shareware authors the means to sell their products online through an electronic Merchant account

•            1990: Tim Berners-Lee writes the first web browser, WorldWideWeb, using a NeXT computer

•            1992: Terry Brownell launches first fully graphical, iconic navigated Bulletin board system online shopping using RoboBOARD/FX

•            1994: Netscape releases the Navigator browser in October under the code name Mozilla. Pizza Hut offers online ordering on its Web page. The first online bank opens. Attempts to offer flower delivery and magazine subscriptions online. Adult materials also become commercially available, as do cars and bikes. Netscape 1.0 is introduced in late 1994 SSL encryption that made transactions secure

•            1995: Jeff Bezos launches Amazon.com and the first commercial-free 24 hour, internet-only radio stations, Radio HK and NetRadio start broadcasting. Dell and Cisco begin to aggressively use Internet for commercial transactions. eBay is founded by computer programmer Pierre Omidyar as AuctionWeb

•            1998: Electronic postal stamps can be purchased and downloaded for printing from the Web

•            1999: Business.com sold for US $7.5 million to eCompanies, which was purchased in 1997 for US $149,000. The peer-to-peer filesharing software Napster launches. ATG Stores launches to sell decorative items for the home online

•            2000: The dot-com bust

•            2002: eBay acquires PayPal for $1.5 billion. Niche retail companies CSN Stores and NetShops are founded with the concept of selling products through several targeted domains, rather than a central portal

•            2003: Amazon.com posts first yearly profit

•            2007: Business.com acquired by R.H. Donnelley for $345 million

This is a picture of the Zappos fulfillment ce...

Image via Wikipedia

•            2009: Zappos.com acquired by Amazon.com for $928 million.Figure to the right is Zappos’s fulfilment center in Kentucky. Retail Convergence, operator of private sale website RueLaLa.com, acquired by GSI Commerce for $180 million, plus up to $170 million in earn-out payments based on performance through 2012

•            2010: Groupon reportedly rejects a $6 billion offer from Google. Instead, the group buying websites plans to go ahead with an IPO in mid-2011

•            2011: US eCommerceand Online Retail sales projected to reach $197 billion, an increase of 12 percent over 2010. Quidsi.com, parent company of Diapers.com, acquired by Amazon.com for $500 million in cash plus $45 million in debt and other obligations. GSI Commerce, a company specializing in creating, developing and running online shopping sites for brick and mortar brands and retailers, acquired by eBay for $2.4 billion

Image representing eBay as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

•            2011: ebay and Paypal join forces for social customer commerce. Facebook’s Open Graph — the map of connections that Facebook users create with friends and online content — is integrated  into applications developed with eBay services such as Magento, a service for building online storefronts, and GSI, which handles order fulfillment. eBay launches X.commerce; eBay to make sure it has all the commerce tools developers and merchants need to do business, and eBay will make the acquisitions necessary to get it done. PayPal Access, a service that allows people to use their PayPal accounts on other merchant websites, eliminating the need to give third parties their credit card information.

Short History of f-commerce from SMI:

  • 2004: Beginnings of Facebook
  • 2006: Facebook opens to anyone 13 years of age and up
  • 2007: Facebook virtual goods, Marketplace and apps platform launched; Facebook Pages launches giving brands a potential shopping play

    1-800-Flowers 8th Bridge Facebook Shop from Like My Stuff by Dr. Natalie Petouhoff

  • 2008: Facebook Connected announced, allowing users to connect their FB identity to any website
  • 2009: Like button gets a thumbs up; first transaction on Facebook- an order of flowers from 1-800-Flowers is placed
  • 2010: Delta Airlines offers ability to purchase tickets directly from Facebook; Facebook adds “Places” as a competitor to Foursquare; Target is the first retailer to sell Facebook gift cards; Places adds “Deals” so when users check-in they can use Facebook Credits to buy stuff

Delta: booking a flight on Facebook from Like My Stuff by Dr. Natalie Petouhoff

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • 2011: More Brands offer social commerce….
      • Warner Brothers offers movies, starting with Dark Knight;
      • Facebook required game developers to process payments via Facebook Credits;
      • Facebook takes 30% on all Facebook credit transactions;
      • Facebook hits 800 Million users;
      • Inside Virtual Goods says US Virtual Goods Market will be $2.1B

Warner Bros Facebook Offer via Like My Stuff by Dr. Natalie Petouhoff

What will happen next? Consumers are the ones with the power to vote yes or no on f-commerce.

Five Steps To Social Commerce Success:

  1. Make sure to understand the nuances to social commerce and f-commerce.
  2. Evaluate your current social customer commerce strategy
  3. Determine where your gaps are in what you have and what you could be doing in social commerce
  4. Evaluate where your social customer commerce strategy plan has gaps across all functional departments in your organization
  5. Create a cross-functional strategy and plan that plays well across other functional departments that have a stake in social customer commerce and determine strengths and weaknesses and who is going to do what. Don’t make your internal departments your competitors- make your competitors your target for improving your business and monetizing your social customers.

Will be interesting to see what happens this time next year! Happy Holidays!

@drnatalie Learn. Share. Grow!

For more information on my book about F-commerce, “Like My Stuff: How to Monetize Your Facebook Fans” check out my Facebook store and book- There’s examples from brands like: Delta, 1-800-Flowers, Target, Avon, Old Spice, Jennifer Lopez, iTunes, Victoria Secrets, and smaller brands like Chile Monster, BabyAndMeGifts.com, Ettitude and Rachel Roy and how they have used Facebook commerce and Facebook stores.

How to Monetize Your Facebook Fans WIth a Facebook Store

And here’s other posts on the topic to help guide your social customer commerce strategy:

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