Tuesday Aug 26, 2014

An Engaging Experience at CRM Evolution 2014

Our guest post today is from Oracle Social Cloud Group VP Meg Bear, fresh off presenting at the CRM Evolution event. With seismic technology shifts taking place in CRM, we wanted to get her take on what she heard and saw.


What a fun week! CRM Evolution wasn’t just a great experience; it was a truly engaging event. The reason I say that is many of the conversations at the event were around best practices for customer experience and customer engagement. Thanks to the amazing Ray Wang for summarizing the discussion so concisely!


Buzzwords aside, I was happy to see the focus on engagement and I believe there are two key distinctions between the concepts. Firstly, engagement suggests an ongoing relationship, versus a one-time experience. Importantly, engagement makes it clear that the customer is in control and the actions taken by an organization, only impact the outcome.


CRM EvolutionWhat made CRM Evolution 2014 such a great experience and so engaging, you may ask? Well, it wasn’t the view from the windowless press/analyst room I spent most of my day in that’s for sure. The amazing conversations I was lucky enough to join (and of course the hugs!) make this “THE” event for those who care deeply about this industry.


I shared fascinating discussions with the delightful Paul Greenberg. Paul has an amazing ability to bring people together (as he clearly showed in his role as CRM Evolution Conference chair) and hosted a panel on the growing importance of customer engagement that I joined. Not content with lifting the curtain on the increasingly small distinction between “social CRM” and traditional CRM systems, Paul asked complex and insightful questions about business, social and customer engagement. I was honored to participate.


And it wasn’t just Paul. My visit was enriched by a large number of industry veterans sharing their experiences. Denis Pombriant kindly took the time to share his presentation with me even though I was double booked during his session; Brian Vellmure and I talked for so long that I made him late for a Yankees game (sorry, Brian!); and I waited for but did not get coffee (to say the “experience” at the hotel Café could have used a little investment would be an understatement) with the one and only Brent Leary. Any minute spent getting Michael Krigsman’s take on the state of things is always a minute well spent. And that’s not to mention the countless other conversations I had with some of the best people in the industry including Marshall Lager.


One of the things I was talking about was how the right user experience can increase customer engagement. As with the introduction of Social Station, a cool new workstation within Oracle Social Cloud, we now provide a next-gen user experience that drives productivity and social business results. It was great to see some of the initial reaction and read what Maria Minsker (CRM Magazine), Natalie Gagliordi (ZDNet), Tom Murphy (CMSWire), Omar Akhtar (The Hub) and others had to say about the latest enhancements.


By making it easier than ever to understand, report and share social insights across the enterprise, Social Station helps our customers move at the speed of social. And that’s not just a nice to have. That type of agility is a must-have if organizations are to engage customers in a way that has a positive and tangible impact on business results.


So thanks to Paul, the rest of CRM Evolution team and everyone that took the time to meet and speak with me. I hope to see many of you at Oracle OpenWorld next month and perhaps while I am there, I will get my very own selfie with Ray Wang.



@oraclesocial

Friday Jul 25, 2014

Customers Don’t Care Who’s In Charge, Just That Somebody Is

You have to wonder sometimes if the average consumer is aware of how much marketers and technology people are talking about customer experience and customer-centricity. Do they think most brands care about their experience? Do they feel like their happiness lies at the very center of everything corporations do?


Probably not.


“Every contact we have with a customer influences whether or not they’ll come back. We have to be great every time or we’ll lose them.” -Kevin Stirtz


But we as businesses are at least increasingly aware of the power, voice, and choice the social revolution has given the customer. And because of that, thoughts are turning to how to use the same technology that’s empowering the public to serve them and meet their needs.


Of course, major corporate organizations don’t naturally drift toward this collective realization and total commitment to putting the customer at the heart of every development and decision. That’s just not the nature of the beast. A customer champion is needed on the inside to alter not just the way things are done, but also the culture in which they’re done.


The more you engage with customers the clearer things become and the easier it is to determine what you should be doing. -John Russell


Who is this champion? They come bearing many titles; Chief Customer Officer, Chief Experience Officer, Chief Client Officer, CMO With a Renewed Commitment to Customer Experiences, CEO Who Has Seen the Light and Wants to Be Known as the Customer’s Friend, etc. (Okay, I made a couple of those up). What they’re called is less important than their passionate belief that utterly delighted customers positively affect the bottom line.


Then, that passion has to be combined with the leadership skills to affect change in environments often deeply resistant to change. Here’s the baseline, Forrester says over 6% of S&P 500 companies have a CCO, but it’s a position that’s so new, many look on it as an experiment. Tricky turf, and probably not for the weak-willed.


There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman down, simply by spending his money somewhere else – Sam Walton


Jeanne Bliss, author of "The Chief Customer Officer," points out 80% of buying decisions come from 3 customer perceptions: experience, reliability and "how did you feel" afterward. We hope you'll take the time to listen to a recent Oracle Social webcast featuring Gannett Chief Digital Officer David Payne, Oracle Chief Customer Officer Jeb Dasteel, and Oracle Social VP Erika Brookes, who tackle this question of who owns the customer. Who is best suited to drive these positive customer perceptions? How can they make the entire org, across department walls, put the customer first? What happens to areas of the business that don’t buy in to customer centricity?


We are always eager to help those brands that are indeed committing to the idea of “happy customer as good business” and that are seeking their own customer champion.


@mikestiles @oraclesocial
Photo: freeimages.com

Friday Jul 04, 2014

The Buyer Revolution: Let Freedom Ring

Social media truly did amount to a consumer revolution. And if you don’t believe that, simply think back to what life was like before the revolution.

The mantra was “buyer beware.” It was a battle cry that meant brands were largely out to trick you, sell you garbage. If you fell for it, it was your fault for not being smart enough to see through the charade. But even more importantly, “buyer beware” was a pre-emptive warning to remind you that you, as the customer, had little to no recourse if you mistakenly believed in the brand. Gotcha.

Your choices in a particular type of product were slim. And your sources of information that might lead to you discovering competitors and options were limited. In nearly every category, you were aware of two or three of the “big guys.” And, of course, the big guys were barely distinguishable from each other. Why would they need to be?

And not only did brands only care what customers thought to the extent they could be manipulated, they built brick walls, barriers and hurdles between themselves and the customer that were so well-crafted and impenetrable, they remain obstacles to change inside enterprises to this very day.

Fast forward to July 4, 2014. A single consumer voice is connected to other single voices such that it can amount to millions. A circle of influence of about 8 people is now one of tens of thousands, or more. The consumer who formerly could only see what was nearby or marketed to them can now proactively seek out everything that’s available on the planet…with a click.

The revolution has been won for the consumer…but ALSO for the brands.

Brands will now live and die by the way they treat customers. They will rise and fall based on their reputations and the extent to which existing customers are willing to proudly recommend them. They will be forced to get better and be better. The luxury of putting out a poor product is fading away. The maker will be exposed.

But most of all, brands can now pursue the benefits of truly knowing their customers, sincerely caring what they want & need, actually wanting to be in communication with them. Today’s mobile, multi-device, always on, socially connected customers are accustomed to not being ignored, put off, given the runaround, or abused. They are free.

The buyer revolution switched the game from transaction to experience. The experience IS the product. Brands no longer don’t reply. Brands no longer blindly send automated messages. Brands no longer make the customer wait weeks for a resolution. If something is wrong, brands are quick to make it right for the customer. Brands are keenly aware of every previous encounter that customer has had with them for context.

Of course none of that is true. Whether it’s from lack of leadership or lack of the proper tech tools, plenty of brands are still fumbling around, mired in how things used to be before the social media revolution. The customers, however, are not stuck. Their freedom is ringing loud and clear.

@mikestiles @oraclesocial
Photo: freeimages.com

Friday Jun 06, 2014

6 Ways to Modernize Your Customer Experience

If customers have changed, if the way they research and shop have changed, if their expectations have changed, if their ability to act on dissatisfaction has changed, but your customer experience has NOT changed, what was once “good enough” may now be crippling.


Well, the customer has changed, and why wouldn’t they? You’ve probably changed too in your role as consumer. There’s more info available, it’s easier to get, there’s more choice, you’re more mobile, you’re more connected, it’s easier to buy, and yes, it’s easier to switch brands if experiences don’t meet your now higher expectations.


Thanks to technological advances, we as marketers can increasingly work borderline miracles. But if we’re still not adamantly adopting customer centricity, and if we aren’t making the customer experience paramount amongst business goals, the tech is wasted. A far more modern customer experience is called for. Here are 6 ways to get there:


1. Modern Marketing:

Marketing data is aggregated and targeted to the right customers, who are getting personal, relevant communications. In return, you’re getting insight that finally properly attributes revenue to your marketing efforts.


2. Modern Selling:

Demand is being driven across all channels with modern selling tools. Productivity is up thanks to coordinated communication and selling, and performance is ever optimized using powerful analytics.

3. Modern CPQ:

You’re cross-selling and upselling more effectively since reps and channel partners have been empowered with the ability to quickly, automatically generate 100% accurate, customer-friendly quotes complete with price controls and automated approvals.

4. Modern Commerce:

You’re leveraging data and delivering personalized, targeted digital experiences to everyone. You’re attracting more visitors, and you’re able to scale and keep up with the market and control the experience.

5. Modern Service:

You’re better serving your customers by making it easier for them to engage with your brand, plus you’re lowering your costs by increasing agent and tech support efficiencies.

6. Modern Social:

You’re getting faster, deeper, more accurate insights from social and turning content around faster, which then goes out to the right people at the right time in the right place. You’ve also gotten proactive in your service, and customers love that.


For far too many brands, the buying journey of Need, Research, Select, Buy, Use, Recommend across the multiple connect points of Social, Mobile, Store, Call Center, Site, Ecommerce is a disconnected mess. Oracle’s approach to CX is to connect every interaction your customer has with your brand, avoiding the revenue losses lousy customer experiences bring.


How important is the experience to customers? 94% are willing to pay more of their hard-earned money to have better ones, while a meager 1% say they get the good, consistent experiences they expect.


Brands, your words aren’t as loud anymore, so your actions as they relate to customer experience are going to have to do the talking.


@mikestiles @oraclesocial
Photo: Julien Tromeur, freeimages.com

Tuesday Apr 22, 2014

I Won’t Be Ignored: Why We Want Customer Service on Social

bad social customer serviceAdmit it.  Sometimes in the dark of night, when you’re alone and no one is looking, you gripe about how annoying those people who expect customer service on social are. They get in the way of how corporations wanted to do customer service: “Your call is very important to us, please continue to hold.”


Prior to the expectations social customer service brought, it seemed like the goal of most customer service was to actually break down the customer and frustrate them out of wanting help at all, supported by a brand attitude of, “Wow, you sure seem mad. But what are you gonna do about it?”


Along came social, and suddenly they actually could do something about it. We want customer service on social because:


It’s faster…or at least it should be.

53% reaching out to a brand for service on Twitter expect a response within an hour. 32% expect a response within half an hour. And 57% expect the same response time on nights & weekends as during business hours. Sitting on hold for 30 minutes on the phone is regarded as an abuse that older folk had to endure, but that’s no longer tolerable. In fact, J.D. Power tells us 18 to 29-years-olds are more likely to use your social for customer service (43%) than for marketing stuff (23%).


It connects us to a human.

We’re a generation that’s fine with automation and letting robots help us…to a point. What the bots lack is the ability to project caring or a personal investment in the resolution of our problem. It’s hard to have a relationship with automation, but when a community manager saves the day, the customer feels like they have a hero inside the brand. That’s relationship building.


It acknowledges my problem is not like “all the others.”

FAQs and reams of self-help pages project that you, the customer, are nothing special and neither is your problem. It’s a problem someone else has had, and there’s an answer. All you have to do is shut down your work and devote as much time as necessary to finding it. If you find it, hopefully the generalized solution will actually apply to your specific situation. If not, it’s off to the user forums, where the advice you get might take days, and may or may not come from someone who actually knows what they’re talking about. The extent to which brands try to keep from interacting with you makes quite an impression.


It more aggressively seeks to resolve my problem.

55% of customers get frustrated if they have to repeat the same info several times to several different people. 65% get frustrated if they have to contact the brand twice for the same issue. Managers of brand social channels know they have no such luxury to put a customer on ice or pass them around like a hot potato. The public is watching the interaction, so there must be a timely, happy ending to each customer service story. Integration into CRM systems helps make that happen.


It empowers and sets us up to publicize mistreatment.

American Express says the average number of people a social customer will tell about a good customer experience is 42. The average number of people they’ll tell about a bad experience is 53. Increasingly, customers feel it’s nothing short of their duty to warn people about you. 58% are more likely to share their customer services experiences now than 5 years ago.


It empowers and sets us up to publicly express pride in the brands we like.

Likewise, your customers want to be happy and proud to be associated with you. In addition to the advocacy and the help marketing your company, when you execute good service on social, those delighted customers spend 20% to 40% more with you. Take that to the next social ROI conversation with your boss.


So splash that customer service email or phone number everywhere you want. Force people into fix-it-yourself trees or open forums. People are still going to go on your social channels seeking customer service. Questions on Facebook Pages alone are up 85% over last year. And if the experiences don’t match up to modern expectations, you’re largely in the disappointment business.


BONUS EYE-OPENING STATISTIC:

70% of Marketing departments are involved in social, compared to a mere 19% of Customer Service departments – Ragan


@mikestiles @oraclesocial
Photo: Belovodchenko Anton, freeimages.com




Friday Jan 03, 2014

Is Brand Affinity Completely Worthless?

Social media is largely thought of as a brand affinity play, and far too few brand leaders know why that’s valuable.


empty pocketBe honest. Does it bother you when someone doesn’t like you? Even if you have plenty of other friends, when you encounter someone that openly doesn’t want to be around you, do you find yourself frequently wondering why not?


That’s how it often works in real life. But as brands, we not only are stunningly uncurious as to why people don’t like us or use us, we don’t even care how much our existing customers like us. It’s an unnatural way to behave, and at a time when we’re tasked with connecting naturally with consumers.


There seems to be doubt around the value of building those relationships. Either that, or because the fruits of those relationships won’t show up on the ledger this quarter, building them is deprioritized. And because social is the stage on which relationship building is performed, it too isn’t given the resourcing and executive support to max out the winning of hearts and minds.


Like the buying journey itself, brand affinity is the result of variable multiple brand encounters that combine toward a result unique to each customer. No magic ROI equation. But if there can be agreement that repeat customers, existing customers increasing their spending with the brand, loyal customers who look at our brand first or only, and customers who market for us for free, all have a positive effect on revenue…then we’re getting somewhere.


Seriously? You’re telling me you see no dollar value in your customers being as cult-like about your brand as Apple’s? Others sell similar products, but Apple markets a brand experience customers are emotionally invested in. It’s part of their customers’ very identity. So yes, they’ll buy every new product sight unseen and passionately praise and defend the brand. Apple doesn’t need gimmicks…they need crowd control.


Why aren’t we all Apples? Because we haven’t been investing in the combo of product, service and culture that generates the kind of core customers that drive 80% of profits. Fame is a group activity, but you’ve got to assemble the group. Perhaps brands that see no or only passing value in brand affinity have no sales or marketing system in place to even capitalize on being loved.


You view your product as the bee’s knees (you don’t literally sell bee knees do you?), but many brands have no significant value prop differences vs. competitors. Given that, the ability to bond the public to you is make or break. So how do you do it?


The USC Marshall School of Business determined brand affinity is achieved by enticing, enabling and enriching; meaning what you offer must be appealing, it must help the customer, and it must make the customer feel empowered and “better.” With tech listening tools, the public will show you how to do those three things for them.


Will that produce returns? A survey sought to learn which airline people thought was best. Alaska Airlines won. However…a very high percentage of respondents who voted for it had NEVER flown Alaska Airlines. They thought it was best just because enthused customers said it was.


Brand affinity is among the highest-return marketing you can do.


@mikestiles
Photo: David Playford, stock.xchng

Friday Dec 13, 2013

Stop It: Things That Annoy Customers on Social Media

stop annoying social mediaYou can’t please everybody.  But that’s no reason to throw hands in the air and adopt a “they’ll take what we give them” approach to content and social strategy.


As customer centricity grows as a guiding mantra, brands should internalize that social followers are not obligated to us in any way. They do us a favor just connecting. So if your strategy is “let’s see how much neglect and inconsideration they’ll take before they leave us,” you’ll find the answer is…not much. Some things we’re doing to chase them away:


Making Them Jump Through Hoops

I recently tried to join a forum for a Wordpress template. It was a 9-step process involving forms, questions, captchas, email verification, and authentication codes. By step 3, I already knew I wasn’t joining and would delete the whole template forever. I only got to step 9 because I was curious, and laughing.


Oops Pages

Sometimes it’s the network’s fault, sometimes the brand’s fault. Users have come to fully expect sites to work. When there’s a glitch, they’re genuinely surprised. That causes them to start thinking about things like security, privacy, and whether the page deserves their trust and participation at all.


No Mobile Optimization

It’s not like it hasn’t been reported. The shift to social usage on mobile is pronounced and growing. No one should ever experience any page on mobile that doesn’t adapt and adjust to the mobile environment. It screams dinosaur.


Illiteracy

You think spelling and grammar don’t matter, especially with young people. But in a Disruptive Communications survey, it was the top item most likely to damage users’ opinion of a brand at 42.5%. For 18-29 year-olds, it came in 2nd at 20.9%. Mistakes happen. But consistent disregard is insulting to readers and cripples the message.


Irrelevancy

No user should have to ask, “Why am I getting this?” If your posts have nothing to do with why someone followed your social channel, you’re shouting, “I don’t know who you are and I don’t care” from the rooftops.


No Incentive

Special, inside info & deals are among the top reasons people connect with brands on social at 58%. Consider what you’re up against. Forrester Research shows only 6% of 12-17-year-olds want to follow brands on Facebook. Almost half say they don’t want brands there at all. Only 12% of 18-24-year-olds want to connect with brands. And TNS Digital Life tells us 57% of consumers don’t want to engage with brands on social. If they connect with you, it’s a big deal. Honor that and offer things of true value in return.


Ignoring Them

IF customers befriend you on social, another key reason they did so was to reach you with questions or problems. 28% of young consumers expect you to get back to them. Insight Strategy Group shows 55% think social’s the best way to give feedback and get service. Don’t answer and customers will know your social is all for you, not them. The tech is there to listen, integrate with CRM systems, and respond.


Going “Used Car Salesman” On Them

Posting things that are too “salesy” is the overall 2nd most cited practice damaging brands on social. Unfortunately, doing so is deep in brands’ DNA. The growing call for social to generate sales risks pushing brands into dangerous territory where fans can develop a counter-productive negative impression. Seriously, if you want to advertise instead of do social, do it.


Making Things Hard to Find

This just in: You aren’t the only one posting on social. Users are flying through News Feeds at top speed and value their time highly. If you’re lucky enough to get a click, that click had better get them right to the promised info (see hoops above). 54% think social is a useful place to get details on products. Make sure that info is easy, short and clear.


Not Serving the Right Kind of Porridge

Users leave because they get too many posts from a brand. Some users leave because they don’t get any content from a brand. Our task is to find the posting frequency that’s most acceptable to most of our audience. Just as Golidlocks was finicky about her porridge temperature, users are touchy about how often they see you. Just remember, posts are normally welcomed if they’re good.


Being Patronizing

We’re going to try to go viral! We’re going to try to be funny! We’re going to try to be cutting edge! If you’re using the word “try,” that’s a great big warning flag. Young users can especially sniff out “trying” to appeal to them a mile away, and it’s a turn-off. Don’t embarrass yourself. Determine your brand voice & personality, then be that…as naturally and as genuinely as you can.


I’m sure you see plenty of other misguided brand practices on social out there. Would love to hear some that especially get under your skin.


@mikestiles
Photo: stock.xchng


Tuesday Nov 26, 2013

Make Your Customers Thankful With a Bountiful Customer Experience

Consider the value of a thankful customer.  A customer experience that goes beyond selling people what they need is the key to turning a mere “satisfied” customer into a thankful customer, which is quite a different thing.


Satisfied customers get what they expect, for the price they expect, and in the way they expect. Or…they had a negative experience but not so negative they took a tangible action against you. They’re quiet. You can get by with satisfied customers, provided your competition isn’t doing a better job than you are.


Thankful customers feel they’ve found something special. The product is better than expected. The service is more timely, attentive, and helpful than expected. The way the company seems to know who they are is unexpected. Thankful customers are not quiet. They’ve been given a good story to tell their friends…so they do. Having thankful customers positions you to devastate competitors.


Making customers thankful takes effort, commitment, and an unrelenting obsession with the customer experience. That should be easy to do considering good customer experiences = money.


  • A Dimensional Research survey found 62% of B2B and 42% of B2C customers bought more after a good experience, while 66% and 52% respectively stopped buying after a bad one.
  • 95% of respondents who had a bad experience told someone about it. 54% shared it over 5 times.
  • The buying decision was impacted for 86% of people who read negative reviews.
  • Zendesk tells us 24% of people keep seeking out the same vendor for 2 years after a good experience, while 39% will avoid a vendor for at least 2 years after a bad one.
  • ClickSoftware says 60% of customers are actually willing to pay more if it will get them a better experience.
  • It takes 12 positive experiences to make up for 1 negative one.
  • For every customer service complaint, 26 other customers are quietly unhappy.
  • Acquiring a new customer costs about 5-9x more than selling to an existing one, and existing customers spend 67% more than new ones.


Whew. Clearly, taking customers for granted, hiding from them, or dismissing their feelings literally costs money. Whereas happy, thankful customers make you money, save you money, and actually market for you. So obviously, brands are out there right now obsessing over customer experience since it would be so completely absurd not to, right? Think again.


In 2012, 75% told Forrester their goal was to “differentiate on the basis of customer experience.” Yet most scored an “OK” or “very poor” on Forrester’s customer experience index. In fact, it’s been getting worse. The tiny percentage ranking “excellent” started going down in 2007 and is now at an all-time low.


eConsultancy and CACI found only 20% of companies have a well-developed strategy for integrated customer service. As for social, 81% of execs know active social processes and culture are essential, but only 65% offer social for sales and service.


Are brands so fiercely opposed to creating positive customer experiences and putting customer happiness over what’s convenient, cheap or easy for the company that they’d rather go under first? Hardly.


Awesome experiences that create loyal, thankful customers arise out of technical and organizational processes. Intimate knowledge of the customer requires listening and data. It requires holistic integration so data can inform across every CRM and CX component. It requires analytics that fuel perpetual improvement so each experience is better than the last. It requires consistency across channels. It requires new internal partnerships and collaboration. And it requires flexibility to adapt and better cope with disruption (which isn’t going to stop). These things are far from easy.


But that vision is available and growing bigger and better every day. Now the desire to create bountiful, surprising customer experiences must grow strong enough that brands feel absolutely compelled to execute on that vision.


@mikestiles
Photo: Chris Dickson, stock.xchng

Tuesday Oct 22, 2013

Get Fanatical About Your Followers

football stadiumIn the fourth of our series of discussions with Aberdeen’s Trip Kucera, we touch on what fans of your brand have come to expect in exchange for their fandom.


Spotlight: Around the Oracle Social office, we live for football. So when we think of a true “fan” of a brand, something on the level of a football fan is what comes to mind. But are brands trying to invest fans on that same level?

Trip: Yeah, if you’re a football fan, this is definitely your time of year. And if you’ve been to any NFL games recently, especially if you hadn’t been for a few years previously, you may have noticed that from the cup holders to in-stadium Wi-Fi, there’s an increasing emphasis being placed on “fan-focused” accommodations. That’s what they’re known as in the stadium business.


Spotlight: How are brands doing in that fan-focused arena?

Trip: Remember fan is short for “fanatical.” Brands can definitely learn from the way teams have become fanatical about their fans, or in the social media world, their followers. Many companies consider a segment of their addressable social audience as true fans; I’ve even heard the term “super-fans” used. So just as fans know and can tell you nearly everything about their favorite team, our research shows that there’s a lot value from getting to know your social audience—your followers—at a deeper level.


Spotlight: So did your research show there’s a lot to be gained by making fandom a two-way street?

Trip: Aberdeen’s new social relationship management research suggests that companies should develop capabilities to better analyze their social audience at a more granular level. Countless “ripped from the headlines” examples, from “United Breaks Guitars” to the most recent British Airways social fiasco we talked about a few weeks ago show how social can magnify the impact of a single customer voice.


Spotlight: So how do the companies who are executing social most successfully do that?

Trip: Leaders, which are the top-performing companies in Aberdeen’s study, are showing the value of identifying and categorizing your social audience. You should certainly treat every customer as if they have 10,000 followers, because they just might, but you can also proactively engage with high-value customer and high-value influencers. Getting back to the football analogy, it’s like how teams strive to give every guest a great experience, but they really roll out the red carpet for those season ticket and luxury box holders.


Spotlight: I’m not allowed in luxury boxes, so you’ll have to tell me what that’s like. But what is the brand equivalent of rolling out the red carpet?

Trip: Leaders are nearly three times more likely than Followers to have a process in place that identifies key social influencers for engagement, and more than twice as likely to identify customer advocates for social outreach. This is the kind of knowledge that gives companies the ability to better target social messaging and promotions like we talked about in our last discussion, as well as a basis for understanding how to measure the impact of their social media programs. I’ll give you an example. I hosted an event at one of my favorite restaurants recently. I had mentioned them in a Tweet several weeks before the event, and on the day of the event, they Tweeted out that they were looking forward to seeing me that evening for the event. It’s a small thing, but it had a big impact and I’d certainly go back as a result.


Aberdeen4Fig


Spotlight: So what specifically can brands use and look at to determine where their potential super-fans are?

Trip: Social graph analysis, which looks at both the demographic/psychographic trends as well as the behavioral connections, can surface important brand value. Aberdeen’s PR and Brand Management research indicated that top-performing companies are more than three times more likely than Followers to both determine demographic trends through social listening (44% vs. 13%), and to identify meaningful customer segments through social (44% vs. 12%). This kind of brand-level insight can complement and enrich traditional market research. But perhaps even more importantly, it can serve as an early warning system for customer experience failures.


@mikestiles
Photo: freedigitalphotos.net


Tuesday Oct 08, 2013

Great Customer Service Quotes for the Social Enterprise

Service ChecklistDid you know that this is Customer Service Week? Whether it’s B2B or B2C, the focus is shifting to customer experience and customer-centricity; not just in marketing but across entire organizations as the reality sinks in happy customers are good for bottom lines. We’ve always known that but have been able to get away with not doing anything about it…until social came along and gave the public power.


So given that some of the most engaged tweets to come out of Oracle OpenWorld this year were quotes around good customer experiences, and since quotes tend to inspire further moves in that direction, we treat you to some of the best.


Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning –Bill Gates


Profit in business comes from repeat customers, customers that boast about your project or service, and that bring friends with them. –W. Edwards Deming


Business is a cobweb of human relationships –H. Ross Perot


Brands are facing a new competitive landscape in which self-definition, core values and purpose will increasingly define their ability to reach customers that only allow what is meaningful in their lives to pass through their filter –Simon Mainwaring


Get closer than ever to your customers. So close, in fact, that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves. -Steve Jobs


By getting your customers to agree with you in small steps along the way, you have a better chance of reaching agreement when it’s time to do business –Harvey Mackay


Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners. –Jimmy Stewart


The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself –Peter Drucker


Employers only handle the money. It is the customer who pays the wages. –Henry Ford


The best customer service is if the customer doesn’t need to call you, doesn’t need to talk to you. It just works. –Jeff Bezos


Well done is better than well said. -Benjamin Franklin


Being on par in terms of price and quality only gets you into the game. Service wins the game. -Tony Allesandra


Every contact we have with a customer influences whether or not they’ll come back. We have to be great every time or we’ll lose them. -Kevin Stirtz


There are no traffic jams along the extra mile. -Roger Staubach


One customer well taken care of could be more valuable than $10,000 worth of advertising. -Jim Rohn


The deepest principle of human nature is the craving to be appreciated. -William James


@mikestiles @oraclesocial
Photo: stock.xchng

Friday Oct 04, 2013

The Leaves are Changing, and So Is Marketing

fall leavesDepending on where you live, you might be seeing the changes fall brings as nature begins to alter its color palette.  The leaves are changing, and so is marketing, driven by social marketing and social data.


It’s often said the only sure thing is change. So how do so many of us get caught flat-footed when it comes? Why have we put ourselves in a position where we can’t adapt? Just as the leaves change, so too will technology, the consumers who use it, and the marketing that must appeal to them.


Marketing Used to be About:

“Slickness.” Polished ads delivering deception with blinding speed and beauty so the consumer won’t know what hit ‘em.

Now It’s About:

Transparency. Have you gauged the jadedness of Millenials lately? They regard slick marketers as a parody. You don’t have to be perfect, just helpful.


Marketing Used to be About:

Desperately pounding your message, broadcast with intense repetition so the prospect will be worn down.

Now It’s About:

Giving prospects usable info, when it’s wanted, where it’s wanted. Google’s Zero Moment of Truth research found consumers, on average, needed 10.4 sources of info before making a buy in 2011. Raving fans that don’t regret doing business with you will do your repetition for you.


Marketing Used to be About:

Manipulating and leading. The mission is on pushing the prospect to do what you want.

Now It’s About:

Customers taking the lead. If the product is legitimate and the information about it is useful, customers will move willingly to the sale.


Marketing Used to be About:

Selling & hiding. All that matters is the sale. After that, walls and barriers are put up to shield the brand from the customer.

Now It’s About:

Gold-standard customer service, customer experience, and retention. Corporate marketing cultures are evolving around customer-centricity.


Marketing Used to be About:

Casting a huge net for a few fish.

Now It’s About:

Relevancy. Resources are targeted to qualified prospects based on listening to them, knowing them, and acting on that knowledge.


Marketing Used to be About:

Clumping humans into demographic blobs. You’re not a person, you’re a type.

Now It’s About:

Personalization. Customers give astonishing amounts of info about themselves and their behaviors, willingly. They expect that to be used to interact with them as individuals.


Marketing Used to be About:

Disregarding unhappy customers. “Bad experience? What are you going to do about it?”

Now It’s About:

Living in fear of unhappy good customers. “You got no response from us and started a movement that spread to 250,000 people and got covered in the media? Guess we should have been more attentive.”


Marketing Used to be About:

Ads.

Now It’s About:

Content. Of all the ads you see in a given day, how many can you actually use or bring any value to you?


Marketing Used to be About:

Silos. “That’s not my department.”

Now It’s About:

The socially enabled enterprise. A Forrester/BMA survey of B2B marketing execs had 54% saying their relationship with IT increased dramatically in the past 2 years. It’s about marketing connected to and sharing invaluable big data with every customer touch point for integrated, informed, seamless customer interactions.


@mikestiles
Photo: stock.xchng

Friday Sep 27, 2013

All Together Now: Social Relationship Management is a Team Sport

soccer huddleAs brands adapt to the new world of social across the enterprise and using the massive amounts of available social data to generate superior customer experiences, the question always arises of how to organize internally for the most effective social relationship management possible. We kept the lines of communication open with Aberdeen’s Trip Kucera for a talk on that very subject.


Spotlight: It’s not uncommon to see big brands honestly trying to communicate via social, but winding up with egg on the face for not executing it properly. You probably see the same thing right?

Trip: Well, a funny thing happened in social media earlier this summer. Some folks from the “Occupy” movement tweeted a photo of some chalk art they’d created in front of the new Bank of America building in NYC. That was right after they’d been asked to leave by the local constabulary. The chalk art featured the Monopoly guy and fairly predictable missives about the 99%, etc. The tweet included a mention of @BankofAmerica. No news value here so far, right?


postSpotlight: I’m still impressed with your use of the word “constabulary,” but I bet there’s more to the story.

Trip: There is. As it sometimes goes with social, the response is where things get interesting. @BofA_Help responds with a “helpful” and friendly, but obviously auto-generated tweet, “We are here to help, listen, and learn from our customers and are glad to assist with any account related inquiries.” In fact, they auto-replied to every single retweet of the Occupy post mentioning @BankofAmerica, including those of an increasingly mocking tone. It’s not hard to see how this (auto)-response might come off as the epitome of faceless, nameless corporate America.


Spotlight: It’s one of those things where an instant, generic auto-reply probably sounded like a good idea at the time internally. But in the real world, it exposed them.

Trip: Yes, and the point here isn’t to pile on, but to learn from this rather public moment how we all might be able to do it better. Two thoughts come to mind:

  • Social is personal. It’s an essentially person-to-person medium. Social is interactive and responsive by its nature, and customers expect it that way. Window dressing won’t do anymore. If you’re going to have a social presence, it needs to have presence. Of course, that can make scaling social for large brands challenging.
  • Social is a team sport. Marketing may, and should, have primary responsibility for a firm’s social presence, but it’s a responsibility that’s increasingly shared with other stakeholders, including the sales and support organizations.


Spotlight: We just came out of Oracle OpenWorld and so much of the conversation revolved around customer experience and social’s critical role in it.

Trip: Great customer experience is core to social media success, but social relationship management Leaders, the top performers as identified by Aberdeen’s research methodology, don’t just wait for the magic to happen, they engineer engagement through effective teamwork. Aberdeen’s recent social relationship management research found that as a compliment to their social listening capabilities, top-performing companies are 36% more likely than Followers to identify and prioritize social posts for engagement (45% vs. 33%), and 53% of Leaders have established a workflow to pass info from social marketing to internal stakeholders for follow-up, such as a “hot” lead or customer complaint, compared with 42% of followers. These capabilities are the social version of the 360˚ view of the customer, but also point to the transparency of social. That improperly handled customer service issue can quickly become a drag on social brand equity.


Figure: Social Engagement is a Team Sport

figure
Source: Aberdeen Group, July 2013


Spotlight: So it’s not like you can just go rogue and start doing social for your company. The C-suite has to give the green light. And frankly, getting top-level support has been an issue.

Trip: Organizational imperatives like this often start at the top, and social is no exception. The notion of the socially enabled enterprise has clearly reached the C-level. Senior management at Leader companies is 23% more likely than their Follower counterparts to understand and support the company’s social media strategy. Senior management support is not only instrumental in getting everyone on the same page, so to speak, but in granting “permission” for the organization to develop its social voice as an extension of its culture.


Spotlight: Of course, that permission usually comes with caveats in the form of social media policies, whether those are soft guidelines or hard rules.

Trip: Just as broader corporate culture should be expressed and represented in the norms and policies of a company, its social culture should be at the heart of any social media policy. To this point, we find that Leaders are 30% more likely to have a company policy in place for employee use of social media, 61% vs. 47%.


Spotlight: Sounds like the advice is that if you don’t have any social plan for the organization, let an internal leader craft that plan and support them in it.

Trip: We know that great social media moments start with, and could very well end without, great customer moments. But smart companies also know that winning in the “hidden sales cycle” of social requires more. It requires an organizational commitment to social relationship management that starts at the top and stays all together.


Don’t forget to check out some further insights into just how organizations are dealing with social entering and being applied across the entire enterprise by getting our study of social business from Oracle, Leader Networks, and Social Media Today.


@mikestiles
Photo: stock.xchng

Thursday Sep 26, 2013

Oracle OpenWorld: Day 4

ReggieOracle OpenWorld Day 4 saw a breathtaking America’s Cup win for Oracle Team USA and more keen insight into technology’s forward march in terms of big data, the cloud, customer experience and the morning’s specific focus…social’s astonishing impact on organizations and business.


Social Spotlight once again gets you on the inside and keeps you up to speed on the top thoughts coming out of this incredible annual event.


Keynote on Social with Reggie Bradford, David Vap, Tesco, and LEGO’s Lars Silberbauer.


Technology is being driven by the accelerating trends of social, mobile, data and cloud.


Customer expectations are increasing, creating massive disruptions that make it harder to differentiate, compete and win.


86% will stop doing business with you after one...ONE bad experience.


Only 16% of organizations describe their customer experiences as "advanced."


Your customers couldn't care less about the silos you've built inside of your organization. It’s NOT their problem.


Customers are a wide variety of demographics, and they're trying to engage with you on numerous channels of their choosing.


Oracle's complete CX solutions suite includes marketing, commerce, sales, service, and social.


Digital natives move seamlessly between the real and digital worlds, whichever works best and is most convenient at the moment.


Things are shifting from multiple customers/one experience to one customer/multiple experiences.


He who serves the customer best in this seamless, connected world, wins.


Consumer adoption cycles are going faster. If you're not in a position to adopt and adapt yourself, you're in trouble.


90% of all purchases are subject to social influence.


Companies that collaborate across departments that take advantage of technologies are the most successful.


For social to achieve its true value, it has to be part of a broader ecosystem to enhance the customer experience.


Social is being extended across the enterprise, integrated with the application stack.


Oracle recently announced the integration of the Oracle SRM with key components of Eloqua.


The Oracle SRM is built for global scale, with access to over 700 million messages daily, 185 countries, and 31 global languages.


CX


Empowering Social Business with Meg Bear


Data volume will grow 20 times what it is today by 2020.


300 million photos are uploaded to Facebook daily, and there are an average 400 million tweets per day.


Customers don't stand still in the buying journey. Approach them as one conversation, one transaction, one relationship.


A combined effort is needed from functions that are “onstage” with customers and “backstage” supporting these interactions.


70% of businesses today use social technology and 90% report getting business benefits from it.


Even internally, social collaboration and sharing results in a projected 20-25% increase in productivity.


Brands are moving from using social to broadcast messages to listening, learning and engaging with customers to cultivate relationships.


Social applies across the enterprise: marketing, commerce, selling, customer service, HR, and collaboration.


70% of executives think social can fundamentally change how their organization works. But only 10% rate themselves highly on it.


Just 34% of social professionals think their social is aligned to business goals and outcomes.


The culprits holding back “Social Business” are lack of overall strategy, competing priorities, and lack of business ROI.


Gartner estimates 80% of social business projects will disappoint due to lack of leadership support and taking a narrow view of social.


We're moving from a “siloed” world to a holistic, unified approach - with departments and technology solutions.


Best Practices: Attain executive buy-in & support, align social with clear business objectives, collaborate across people, processes & technology, enact social policy guidance (guidance…not rules), let the company’s social champions lead, integrate social across key areas of the enterprise.


If you’d like to see even more great content that came out of Oracle OpenWorld 2013, it’s ready and waiting for you at OpenWorld Live.


@mikestiles

Wednesday Sep 25, 2013

Oracle OpenWorld: Day 3

team usaOpenWorld rolled into its third day in San Francisco with excitement in the air both about new cloud product announcements from Oracle (Database as a Service and Java as a Service, both with 3 levels of Oracle management to choose from, which stand ready to drop costs and operational complexity for the enterprise), and about the amazing comeback wins by Oracle Team USA vying for the America’s Cup.


And, of course, the focus on Customer Experience at OpenWorld continued. Here now are the easily digestible thoughts that came out of two of those key sessions.


Socially Enable Your Enterprise to Maximize Your Customer Experience, with Meg Bear and Lisa Gidich:


"A business absolutely devoted to service will have only one worry about profits. They will be embarrassingly large." -Henry Ford


"There is only one boss. The customer. He can fire everybody in the company by spending his money somewhere else." -Sam Walton


"If you build a great customer experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful" -Jeff Bezos


It took radio 38 years to reach 50 million users. It took Twitter 3 years.


Are your ears burning? Fortune 100 companies are mentioned 10,400,123 times per month on social.


They won't take it sitting down anymore. 75% of consumers have posted a negative comment on social after a poor customer experience.


1 in 3 users prefer to contact brands using social rather than the telephone.


Employees have actionable data at their fingertips - and a way to send service inquiries from social to Right Now.


Hello? Hello? 58% of those who tweeted about a bad experience never got so much as a response from the brand.


Brand reality is not meeting customer expectations. 81% of users who reach out on social expect a same-day response.


Exceed your customers' expectations. Their perception is your reality.


The benefits of an integrated Social Relationship Management platform include savings, reduced complexity, smoother workflow, and better customer experiences.

cloud services

Forget B2B and B2C: Technology Enables B2P Marketing, with Angela Wells and Marius Ciortea


B2B or B2C, no matter what you're selling, success depends on connecting with decision makers.


91% of B2C marketers use content marketing. In fact, 78% of CMO's think it's the "future of marketing."


Think there’s a disconnect? 90% of consumers find custom content useful. But marketers spend about 25% of budget on content marketing.


This Just In: B2B buyers and decision makers are people too!


Executives have access to information, peers and influencers on social. So there’s less need for information from vendors “trying to sell me.”


Marketing has to understand the business issues of customers via listening and answering that add value to each step in the buying cycle.


B2B wants content that’s original, consultative and pertinent. Vendors are giving them promotional and technical content instead.


The CMO Council says too few marketers grasp the role and value of content in lead acquisition, qualification, conversion and closure.


It’s not about fans or clicks. It's about the viewers and their engagement.


Latent Semantic Analysis presents themes that filter out noise and refine search in order to get the most accurate signal.


Leverage your experts. Asked how social information would affect health decisions, 60% said they trust info posted by doctors.


Deemphasize lead generation to focus on customer interactions. Concentrate on customer needs. Provide value.


Understand how prospects interact with messages, content and each other. Develop personas so you’ll know exactly who you’re talking to.


Day 4 of OpenWorld lies just around the corner. Keep following @oraclesocial for live tweet coverage of sessions like:



@mikestiles



Tuesday Sep 24, 2013

Oracle OpenWorld: Day 2

Mark HurdIn his Keynote address at OpenWorld, Oracle President Mark Hurd informed the crowd they were going to be hearing a lot about Customer Experience during the mega-event in San Francisco. Saying new consumers are, and will continue to be, much more difficult buyers than we ever were, Hurd added that what makes them “difficult” is simply that they expect to be treated well.


Below are the day’s key thoughts from a CX mini-keynote that followed.


91% of C-suite execs want to be a CX leader in their industry. But only 38% of them have a formal CX initiative. The need is to move from thought leadership to plan-to-solutions leadership.

Steve Miranda, EVP, Oracle Application Development.


CMO's and marketing teams are going from marketing communications to experience engineering. Rallying around the customer should now drive IT decisions. The winning combo is cross-channel optimization + relevant product + meeting individual needs at the right time and on the right channel. Embrace “failing fast”…experimenting, discovering results, learning, and adapting quickly. Being customer-centric can start paying off in the short term, even if the vision is long term.

Glen Hartman, Global Managing Director of Digital Consulting, Accenture Interactive.


eBay customers want tailored shopping experiences across platforms. The journey to a consistent CX is to be able to deliver anytime, anywhere. Today's best practices break all the rules you learned in the past.

Ghufran Ahmed, eBay


90% of commerce is influenced by social. Customer expectations are rising...BUT delivery by so many companies is declining. You can't just outsource social to any 22-year-old digital native. It’s too specialized, too critical. Something with such a tremendous impact on the bottom line should not go to the least experienced employees. Data and customer interactions can be woven into every part of the Oracle Social portfolio...into many functions beyond social. You must know your customer in order to respond to them in the way they want and like being responded to

Meg Bear, GVP, Oracle Cloud Social Platform


Do things that are incremental. The important thing is to just get started. The days of huge projects are gone. Put the customer at the center in unexpected ways to change their perspective of you.

David Vap, Oracle GVP


Attendees also heard from Oracle pros and clients in various sessions that the shift to customer-centricity is indeed yielding results that benefit both the customer and the organization.


Everything we do is about us as consumers, not brands. It's not about what kind of marketing brands send out. Consumers do the talking and sharing about our brands. Social is a global communications transformation. It took the telephone 75 years to reach 50 million users. It took Pinterest 2.75 years.

Erika Brookes, VP Product Strategy, Oracle Social


IT is not brain surgery. Figure out who your audience is and what they're doing on social. Online is another storefront – one that demands tremendous customer service.

Kat Smith, Social Media Director, Petco


Social is one of the most measurable channels - quite easy to track. It's not about "owning" social, it's about being the lead group helping your organization leverage social. Once executives know how to use social, they don't want to leave the social conversation.
Lars Silberbauer, Global Director of Social Media, LEGO


As for IT’s role in this fundamental business and organizational transformation, attendees heard it put quite simply that the CIO is already in the marketing business...they just might not know it yet. Join us on @oraclesocial tomorrow for Oracle OpenWorld, Day 3, with coverage of sessions such as:


  • Socially Enable Your Enterprise to Maximize Your Customer Experience
  • Forget B2B and B2C: Technology Enables B2P Marketing
  • Accelerating Success With Social Customer Service
  • Larry Ellison’s Cloud Keynote Address


And yes, that's Jerry Rice in the photo above who stopped by to pay a visit today.

@mikestiles

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