As you can probably surmise, I have had a very busy summer and haven’t been able to blog as much as I would like! (Note: You can find me fairly frequently updating on Twitter at twitter.com/bcarroll7). As the summer wraps up, I am scheduling some new posts for you, my loyal readers, which focus on customer service, marketing, customer experience, and social media.
Today I have a guest blogger for you. Sean McDonald was formerly the director of Global Online Activities at Dell and is now a principal at Ant’s Eye View. I love these guys because they are cut from the same cloth as me with a passion for customers. Enjoy Sean’s post on who owns the customer.
Avoid the Customer Tug of War
It used to be simple, customers were the responsibility of sales and customer service – those were the two primary and necessary customer touch points for a business. It worked well from a business perspective, the customer contacted you to buy something or service the product. Apart from these two instances, no dialogue was available or encouraged between the customer and the company.
What has changed is customers have a public voice on the web. Customers always had a voice before, it just was not as expansive before introduction of easy and affordable web technologies (blogs, twitter, UGC video sites). Now with all things “social” becoming vogue for companies, a new questions challenges the status quo:“Who owns the customer?” Is it Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, Product Development, PR, Investor Relations, Finance? Answer: is it is everyone’s responsibility to engage with customers. Not every group is an order taker or customer service helpdesk. But customers have questions, ideas that span entire life cycle.
Avoid the tug of war over who owns the customer. Create (within your company) a customer engagement plan in 3 easy steps:
1. Listen and determine what is Relevant – What are the customers discussing today? (packaging, rude retail employees, return policy, friendly environmental practices, etc). Note: Not all conversations are negative.
2. Engage – Pick one topic that is relevant, find that passionate employee that is savvy on the topic and unleash the passionate employee to join and create online conversations. Not sure how to create online conversations, 3 easy ways to get started.
3. Wash, Rinse, Repeat with steps 1 and 2. You will evaluate success on your first topic. What should be your second topic? (again, listen to determine relevance).