Becoming Customer-Centric: The Social Enterprise

“Time discovers truth”, said the Roman philosopher Seneca 2000 years ago.

With this in mind, it’s been some time since I taught the course “Becoming Customer-Centric” at IBM‘s Advanced Business Institute in Palisades, NY. This was when the Internet was an enabler of e-business and  CRM was in its early days. Social networks did not exist.

So I recently thought of the “Social Enterprise”. Back in Y2K,  CRM was seen as the panacea for companies with a vision to become customer-centric. This is to say, enterprises lead with technology to drive CRM implementation. Other companies adopted the “Outside-In” view, with the customer as focal point, as their approach to delivering optimal business value across every customer touchpoint.

Things are much different now and for the better. Here’s why:

1. The Portable Brand: The web and the world of the customer has given rise to the Open Brand – On-demand, Personal, Engagement and Networking. This does not mean loss of brand control, but instead, new opportunity to deliver flawless customer experiences, across all touchpoints, according to the brand promise. Mobile applications now afford customers to interact with their favourite brands as they are on the move around the physical and virtual worlds, hence the “Portable Brand”.

2. Customer Outsourcing: New opportunties abound, especially in customer service at pennies per transaction. This is especially true for mobile apps at under $0.10 per contact but also of web-based transactions where customers provide instant feedback on the experience. Customers are saying “come into my process” as they exert their new found powers to influence the relationship agenda.

3. The Web as Data Warehouse: The Internet is a vast but unorganized data warehouse of customer experience stories waiting to be mined –  it’s like harvesting bottled water from a huge stream virtually for free; a new era of customer behavioural analytics will re-define the traditional purchase funnel;

4. “Outside-In” rediscovered: Companies can extend their boundaries deep into the customer’s world in a most personal way to the point where the company/customer boundary disappears. This effectively renders the product-led “Inside-out” approach to process design and technology selection obsolete especially for brands that evoke high emotional involvement on the part of the customer;

5.Sense & Respond” is redefined: The Social Web transcends geography therefore providing global brands with a unique opportunity to leverage their footprint in all markets, in real time, always on. Companies are taking on new ways of listening to customers via online monitoring of consumer-generated content, running viral advertising campaigns and engaging cusumers in on-line forums and communities.

Upon further reflection, those days at the Palisades might as well been in Seneca’s time.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM

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