Mayberry R.F.D. Meets the WWW

Is a good dose of nostalgia driving what we desire in today’s online community? With the barrage of online enhancements to leviathan websites that have become a common part of many people’s daily rituals, it has become more of a challenge to enchant the daily eyeballs and ultimately the wallets of your prospective customers, established clients, partners, members and employees.

While it is an obvious current imperative to present a friendly engaging online experience, this experience should be not only useful and productive, but more so optimized for enduring best results for both host and visitor without appearing completely mechanical and impersonal. As social business online grows in success via widespread acceptance and adoption, I can’t help but ask: Does social business reflect a longing for the good old days?

In thinking about how social business drives our online engagement today, I started thinking about socio-historical context. Historically, within a small town or city neighborhood (perhaps like the fictitious small town of “Mayberry R.F.D.”), businesses were successful because they knew their customers’ needs, fulfilled their expectations, and treated them with respect and kindness. In the local country store, popular products were located within easy reach. Packaging evolved to provide just the right amount. Specialty items were specifically stocked for certain “regular” customers. Diapers and ice cream were placed in convenient proximity. Through well developed, long-term relationships, shopkeepers’ knowledge increased about their customers, and shopkeepers anticipated future desires with a varied modicum of success. In best cases, shopkeepers were rewarded with increased sales and a grateful customer, and even in the worst cases, the experience increased their knowledge of their customers’ tastes and desires. This intimate understanding of customer needs provided a win-win for the business and client as well as the larger population that benefited from successful community enterprises.

Fast forward to today’s online world where there are similar high expectations for understanding a customer’s multi-faceted, yet now digital relationship with an organization. We want and expect instantaneous presentation and delivery of the most appropriate relevant information for the given moment and stage of our relationship/lifecycle with an organization. And because the experiences with many of our day-to-day relationships are digital, we unconsciously know that the data of our preferences and relationship history are somewhere behind the walls of the interaction we are having at any given moment. It should be a social courtesy of our online relationships with organizations to interact around our identified explicit or at least implicit profiles, regardless of our social, mobile or online channel of connection.

Today, more and more relationships are rapidly established and dissolved in our fickle online global ecosystem. While fighting for loyalty from a global audience has become an ever-changing game of guess-work for some – it doesn’t have to be. With the right tools in place and access to the appropriate data about our customers, we can measure and continually optimize for better results with segmented, contextually targeted content that makes more sense for our online visitors. With this knowledge and appropriate powerful tools in place, we can start to build longer term, loyal, productive and more profitable relationships with our clients.

While we can’t really return to the days of Mayberry and Aunt Bea’s apple pie, we can introduce a similar social courtesy to our online experiences by treating our site visitors as friends, not strangers.

Stay tuned for more discussion on this topic next week.

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