Friday Mar 22, 2013

Annual Planning Checklist: 10 Actions of Beloved and Financially Prosperous Companies

Note: In case you missed yesterday's Webcast featuring Jeanne Bliss in our Oracle WebCenter Social Business Thought Leaders Series, Jeanne has provided us a wonderful summary to use for your Annual Planning process. You can also watch the full webcast On-Demand.

Annual Planning Checklist: 10 Actions of Beloved and Financially Prosperous

Guest post by Jeanne Bliss, President, CustomerBliss

With annual planning just around the corner, here are 10 actions that business leaders and their organizations should invest in to exponentially increase customer loyalty and drive profitable business growth in the upcoming fiscal year. Execute on them to move toward "beloved" status in the eyes of your customers. Good news is; many don’t cost a thing but your commitment and leadership alignment on messaging and execution.

1. Believe in the integrity of your customers. The majority of business policies and rules are created to protect business from the minority of customers. Be bold, like Connecticut Griffin Hospital, which began sharing hospital records with patients and saw claims against the hospital drop by more than 43 percent. Take a leap of faith and believe that trust is reciprocated by customers when they feel that you trust them. Find one rule or policy to relax and watch what happens.

2. Invest in employee trust. Show your employees that you believe in them. Beloved company Wegmans invests in its employees by training them in the skills that remove rules, regulations, policies, and procedures that pen employees in. This enables Wegmans to throw away the rule book and live by this one edict: "No customer goes away unhappy." As a result, its margins are higher and profitability more steady because the grocer's turnover is only 7 percent of employees versus the average in its industry of 19 percent employee turnover.

3. Practice democratic decision making. Make sure your company's best ideas have a way to see the light of day. Give good ideas a chance to prosper no matter where they come from in terms of your organizational chart. Innovation and marketplace differentiation come when employees are respected as part of achieving a mission greater than their set of tasks, and when their voice counts. W.L. Gore has become a $2.7 billion dollar company, was named by Fast Company as "pound for pound, the most innovative company in America," and earned a place on Fortune magazine's best companies to work for list since its inception because of how the company unleashes its employees' spirit and ideas.

4. Grow and invest in customers as a primary asset of your business. Talk about customers lost and gained in real numbers, not percentages, to illustrate the vast number of lives your business impacts. Understand what drives customers out your door, as well as their long-term potential. Zane's Cycles in Connecticut has experienced more than 20 percent growth every year for 29 years, with 45 percent margins because the retailer never loses sight of the fact that its customers' average lifetime value is $12,500. And employees manage relationships bearing that in mind. Valuing customers makes it easy to make decisions about how to treat them.

5. Know your power source for bonding with customers. Regularly connect with customers, not only through surveys and other feedback mechanisms, but also as they experience your products and services. Take a page from Trader Joe's, which uses employee taste buds at its testing kitchens to determine what items should make it to the grocer's shelves, but uses customer "tasting stations" inside its stores combined with sales to determine what items stay. This closeness contributes to Trader Joe's ability to generate $1,300 in sales per square foot--twice the supermarket industry average.

6. Have clarity about how you uniquely serve customers' lives. Unite your operation to ensure that decisions connect to deliver an experience customers want to repeat and tell others about. This ties cross-silo decision making together and releases the organization from excess bureaucracy. IKEA, for example, designs the price tag first because employees at all levels know that the store serves customers who have less money than sweat equity, so are willing put together their items themselves at home. Across IKEA, the understanding that the price drives design, innovation, and what the retailer will and will not do drives its growth...sales that increased even in 2009 by 7.7 percent.

7. Deliberately walk in your customers' shoes. You need to know your customers' life to serve their life. Yet as people rise through the ranks or even join organizations, orientation is often more about process and policy than learning about the customer at the heart of the business. Be deliberate in establishing a process for new hires, such as insurer USAA, which require new "recruits" to wear the flak jacket and helmet that many of their enlisted customers wear and to read their letters. All this is done so that when calls come in employees first connect with the customer, and then conduct the process of the business. Ninety eight percent of its customers stay with them year after year.

8. Make employee selection one of your most important decisions. Select your employees as you would customers: for lifelong value. At Chick-fil-A, operators and employees are selected based on their values, ability to build grow and sustain partnerships in all areas of their lives, and then their technical skills. As a result, Chick-fil-A has operator turnover of just 5 percent, and the fast-food chain just achieved 43 years of consecutive sales growth. Hire people who you want to become a part of the story of your business, and then watch how your social media story improves.

9. Proactively solve mistakes when they occur. When mistakes happen (and they will) get out in front of customers and admit the flaw; then make peace with your customers. Repair the emotional connection, reduce the concern, and solve the problem. Southwest Airlines reviews every flight every day to know when delays interrupted their customers' lives, whether it was the airline's fault or not. The company contacts customers to explain what happened and, when warranted, sends out LUV bucks for a future flight. Being proactive earned Southwest a net revenue increase from those bucks of $1.9 million in 2010. What can you be proactive on?

10. Accept the order and the accountability. In a world where customers are use social channels as a megaphone to broadcast the experience you're delivering, invest in reliability. Don't make the customer wonder where the order is, how long until it gets there, or what happens when it backorders. If a customer can't tell another customer what they get from you, how they get it, or how it feels when they receive it, they you don't have a story to tell (at least one you want heard). Investing in reliability earns you the right to grow.

Companies that have grown in this economic downturn did so because their customers became an army of advocates who grew their business for them. They earned the right to their customers' raves, and the growth that ensued, because they deliberately made decisions that moved their operations in the direction of their customers and employees. And many times because of how we budget, that commitment must be baked into annually planning. Don’t lose another year of opportunity by letting annual planning pass by without considering these important commitments.


 Watch Jeanne Bliss On-Demand along with our other Social Business Thought Leaders.

Tuesday Mar 19, 2013

Want to make sure your Customer Experience Work Stays on Track? Manage these Seven Inhibitors of Customer Experience Work Success

Guest Post: Jeanne Bliss, President, CustomerBliss

1. Starting with a mantra, not an action plan.

a. Often companies decide that they want to get some early traction by telling everyone to “focus on customer experience” What happens next is that people realize this is a big corporate priority and begin taking actions, making plans and creating new scoreboards and taking action.

b. This proliferates the silo based approach to actions that is contrary to the discipline of experience development and management. A lot of action occurs, executives get a “false positive” that action is occurring and traction is happening, but it eventually stalls out because the actions don’t aggregate up to improve complete end to end customer experiences.

2. Not first defining the customer experience and gaining alignment on the path of actions.

a. This is similar to first point, but I am stressing it separately because defining the experience consistently and gaining alignment has major downstream implications if it is not done correctly and if the time is not done to get alignment.

b. The organization needs to agree on the stages of the experience and the definitions of success.

c. The importance of this is because we want to give leaders a new language set for which to ask and drive the business, and we want to establish the key cross-functional metrics for the development of key KPIs for priority touchpoints. This is critical also to database management, as the stages of the experience interrelate to one another.

d. Without creating this framework first, the risk is to experience the same failure as what happened when (most) corporations around the world rolled out CRM.

e. They automated current processes without rethinking the business.

f. The business of customer experience is about redefining the operation of the business to be driven from the customers’ point of view on how they experience the company .

g. This new attitude and approach to talking about and managing the business is key to achieving the cultural transformation. It’s only when we drive the experience from this vantage point, and hard-wire this approach into language, leadership and operations that it will become sustainable.

3. Not breaking the work into actionable pieces and not understanding what “success” is.

a. Initially the work on the customer experience journey should be considered successful when “enabling infrastructure” actions occur, such as

i. Aligning the databases to be able to manage customer data to know the value of the customer asset

ii. Engaging leaders in personally becoming connected to customers’ lives by calling customers, visiting employees

iii. Teaching the organization the competency of working together across the silos to solve and improve one (or two) customer experiences end to end

iv. Changing the communication from leaders to drive customer experience accountability

b. What often happens is that instead of building in (and celebrating) these new competencies so critical to the long termed sustainability – is that people want to attach a score.

i. “we will be successful when our satisfaction rates are x” or “we will be successful when our net promoter score is y”

4. Attaching early metrics to outcome metrics rather than operational metrics people can impact

a. It’s very enticing to jump to the outcome metrics such as survey scores.

b. The challenge with this is that the outcome of a survey score is impacted by numerous factors, not all of which can be impacted by areas of the organization who are given the outcome metrics as their performance score.

c. It’s more powerful to, for example, identify the operational kpis that people can impact

d. If the outcome metrics are added to early, before the underlying processes and culture change and coaching and development are put into place – people WILL want to achieve great scores – but they will rely on involving the customer in helping them to achieve a better score (follow up – any reason you can’t give me a ten?, etc.)

e. They will also focus on actions so minute that it might move the needle a little on the score, but the overall approach to sustaining that skill or even building that skill is compromised. It’s very hard to sustain this type of “go get a good score” approach.

5. Not having executives engaged in the effort.

a. Often executives will say that they want to focus on the customer experience – but they hand off the work to a department or area to work on.

b. This work is not like a typical project. Setting up a great project plan and executing on tactics and actions will get the infrastructure built (such as VOC systems) but it won’t drive the change in culture and the development of cross-silo competencies.

c. Leaders must commit to being personally involved – beyond a perfunctory monthly “check in” meeting. They need to engage in the process of the work. Without executive involvement driving the new prioritization, driving out the actions that are in the way and giving people permission to work together – it is hard to sustain this work.

6. Not having clear communication to the organization that walks people constantly through the roadmap, and actions, and behaviors to model

a. It’s not enough to do the work behind the scenes. The organization needs to be constantly kept up to speed on what is happening and what it means to them.

b. As new decisions are made that focus on customer experiences – people must be kept apprised of these decisions – and given permission to model this type of decision making.

c. Leaders must emerge as constant communicators of why we are taking the actions we are.

d. The organization must be kept up to speed on actions and successes.

e. Without this constant communication and “permission setting” and “decision guidance” the organization will view the cx work as another in a long string of exercises or programs that will go the way of the others – away.

7. Taking actions based on what they think, not based on understanding what customers need.

a. Many companies, especially those long entrenched in their business, believe they know what customers need.

b. Even when they do research, they make the research about “validating” their plans rather than beginning open minded and asking the customer about their lives and what they need.

c. This approach will compromise the outcome of the new experiences that are built – and in some cases will completely backfire.

d. The recent Walmart case is a great one to bring up. Walmart did “research” and got from it that customers said that they wanted less cluttered stores. So they set upon a plan (led by a past Target executive) to declutter the aisles, etc. Then they asked customers if this what they wanted. It backfired. They have lost millions on this. Look up this example --- it’s a good one!

e. Customer experience differentiation comes when the experiences are based by truly understanding customers’ needs – rather than beginning with current processes and asking customers what they like or don’t like. Many companies fall into this trap – from experience building to customer satisfaction scores that indicate that “they are doing ok”. Customers are forced to react the box of the experience you are currently giving – they aren’t given the change to really talk about what they need.

Jeanne Bliss Blog:       www.ccocoach.com subscribe to my blog

Books:   Chief Customer Officer & I Love You More Than My Dog

Twitter: @jeannebliss

 


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Tuesday Feb 19, 2013

Got a Minute?

Got a Minute?

How much did anyone get done in a minute, an hour or a day in 1953? 1973? 1983? 1993? 2003? For those that have been around a while, we’ve certainly witnessed the increased velocity with which today’s business operates in 2013.

And when we find ourselves catching our breath some days, we can understand that June and Ward Cleaver didn’t have a Smartphone in their pocket allowing Wally and the Beaver a slower lifestyle and larger global unknown world. Maybe the Beaver wouldn’t have gotten into so much trouble if June had been tracking him via his cell phone GPS.

I won’t wane on nostalgically (too much) about the “good ‘ol days” in fictitious suburbia when we actually waited for the US mail to deliver our packages and correspondence or we had to be in an office or find a payphone to make a call outside of the home. As the world has evolved due to the rapid speed of communications, it has become a much smaller place – or at least our perception of the world has shrunk to fit in our shirt pocket.

Given the right timing, there are no barriers to easily asking a colleague across the world in Australia, Japan, India, or France a quick question to clarify something that would have taken days or even weeks decades ago. We are living in a new technology-based world with “Digital Darwinism” in full force. Those new employees joining your ranks that were born with a computer in their hands, the “Digital Natives” or “Born Digital” as they are known are arriving with new expectations for the integration of their work and personal lives. They are social beings and are arriving having become accustomed to multiple tools for instantaneous communications, intuitive collaboration at all hours; a different perspective on what is public vs. private and the expectation that the digital tools that they will use in their employment will be just as easy to use as those in their personal lives. They also bring to the workplace the growing expectation that everything in life is social, can be done while mobile, and ultimately, come from the cloud…

Today’s customer expects to engage with your brand and the community surrounding it in an interactive and social way. Customers expect a lot for their online customer experience.

They expect it to be personal:

Accessible: - Regardless of my device – Mobile or not - Via my existing online identities

Relevant: Content that interests me

Customized: To be able to tailor my online experience

They expect is to be engaging:

Social: So I can share content with my social networks

Intuitive: To easily find what I need

Interactive: So I can interact with online communities

And they expect it to be consistent across the online experience.

Interestingly enough, the business priorities of decades ago are still at play today. Do you need to Lower Costs? Increase Sales? Raise Productivity? Foster Innovation? Deliver a product or a service faster, better and cheaper? At least some things haven’t changed, but the tools by which we accomplish these goals are constantly changing and improving, providing the experience to increase engagement of your employees, customers and partners. Got a Minute? Take a look at how much happens in just 60 seconds and how your organization compares.


Every year, one of my favorite magazines, Fast Company, puts out numerous lists, but their “The World's 50 Most Innovative Companies“ list is a great one to watch for some of the coolest customer engagement examples each year. 

A great example (IMO) from 2012

RedBull

One of LBi’s clients, RedBull, has become a media powerhouse themselves – especially with the recent space jump spectacle that gave them maximum free advertising across the globe. If there is an extreme sport where life and death often hang in balance, you'll often find RedBull there as a sponsor. What you are about to see below really pushes the limit of both extreme sports as well as expense for sponsorship. Whether or not you drink their magic potion or not, this project (http://www.redbullstratos.com/) created an audience across multiple social channels with a vast viral distribution of the multiple videos and documentaries created before, during and after the world record-breaking event. This is RedBull's MO, creating sponsorships and spectacles for adrenalin rushes vicariously explored and experienced through their media machine and hopefully also selling some of their elixer along the way. 

RedBull Stratos, A Mission to the Edge of Space

On 14 October 2012 Felix Baumgartner jumped to Earth from a helium balloon in the stratosphere doing the highest parachute jump ever done by a human.. He set the world record for skydiving an estimated 39 kilometres (24 mi), reaching an estimated speed of 1,342 kilometres per hour (834 mph), or Mach 1.24. The capsule was launched from Roswell International Air Center at 09:30 MDT (15:30 UTC).

Standing on the step of the capsule, Baumgartner made a short address:
"I know the whole world is watching now. I wish you could see what I can see. Sometimes you have to be up really high to understand how small you are... I'm coming home now."

RedBull Stratos from AixSponza on Vimeo.
Peter Clausen Film and AixSponza created this animation above visualizing the whole process of going up and jumping down.

Title : "Red Bull Stratos - Mission to the Edge of Space" Client: Red Bull Media House GmbH
Production Company: Peter Clausen Film & TV Produktionsgesellschaft mbH, Munich

Jump from the Edge of Space from NotWorkingFilms on Vimeo.

A NotWorkingFilms Tribute to FELIX BAUMGARTNER JUMP FROM THE EDGE OF SPACE Red Bull Stratos - 14 October 2012
Remixed* by Fabio Palmieri
Music by György Ligeti - Requiem for Soprano (Cathy Berberian)
2012©NotWorkingFilms http://www.notworkingfilms.com  Like on FB!! https://www.facebook.com/NotWorkingFilmsPage

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RedBull has done some great work with car racing as well. www.redbullracing.com/
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Nike

 At Oracle Open World this past October 2012, our customer Nike, won a Fusion Middleware Innovation Award for their Nike FuelBand built with Oracle technologies. There is another interesting article on Fast Company’s Design site regarding this new product and direction for Nike.  They were aiming to create a “Universal Currency” to engage users no matter what they were doing combining personal goals, social networks  and engagement across multiple aspects of a person’s life.

Everything COUNTS!

Nike Achieves Scalability with Oracle: Nike supports 8 million global users to monitor active lifestyle in social environment with 150,000 requests per minute using Oracle


Life Technologies

Another interesting leader on the list is an Oracle client that won an Innovation Award this year as well, Life Technologies. They are praised for bringing the cost of gene sequencing down to a manageable level from both a cost and time perspective in a rapidly growing market of biowares.

They have used Oracle WebCenter Technologies to build their service portal that provides yet another proof point in the Internet of Things that can communicate from machine to machine and provide service, maintenance and proactive care to keep very expensive equipment up and running for peak utilization.  Increasing customer satisfaction and engagement by removing a task and letting researchers focus on research not the maintenance of their equipment.



Looking back at our Social Business Thought Leaders from 2012, there are a couple that immediately come to mind when we talk about trends in Engagement across both Mobile and Social.


Mobile is the New Face of Engagement
featuring Ted Schadler, Vice President, Principal Analyst, Forrester 



Organic Business Networks: Doing Business in a Hyper-Connected World

featuring Mike Fauscette, GVP, Software Business Solutions, IDC   


Wednesday Jan 23, 2013

New Worlds of Customer & Employee Engagement

Employee Engagement

Employee engagement goes far beyond the existence of technology and tools – it is something that needs to be well baked into the culture of the organization. I stumbled upon a wonderful paper on a great site I found that was chock full of interesting articles on employee engagement and the psychology of work and employment and living life to the fullest being personally satisfied and rewarded. The article entitled, “A call for the HIGH PERFORMANCE HUMAN WORKPLACE” by Dominique Giulini, General Manager Novartis Healthcare, Canada talks about the shift in thinking that is required now to promote full employee engagement. Companies are increasingly challenged to create opportunities to fully engage their employees to increase both retention as well as quality of work. I’m sure that many won’t like his approach or suggestions as they do challenge the historic sacred cow of corporate culture – Profit. His premise is quite simple yet presents a significant challenge for today’s leaders:

“This shift is from seeing profit as the goal to profit as the result of meaningful things done in fulfilling ways.”

This shift is best described by using the examples from his paper that talk about one major aspect to this shift – based on numerous studies, employees prefer to have a "Noble Purpose."

This is Noble Purpose - Some Examples:

  • Banking sector: Instead of profit only: Giving credit allows entrepreneurs to realize their dreams and contribute to innovation in society.
  • Insurance: Instead of premium increase: Increasing quality of life by allowing people to focus on the possibilities in their live because their big worries are insured.
  • Computer: Instead of “Selling more computers”: Revolutionizing the access to communication and entertainment.
  • Pharmaceutical:  Instead of “more blockbusters”: Increasing access in the world for Cures.”
  • Books: Instead of selling more books: Being the most customer oriented company in the world. (Amazon)

Noble Purpose is not jargon or a slogan. If it is not genuine it doesn’t work. It starts in a leader’s heart and mind. It is always available if you become 100 percent responsible for it in your company culture.”


When one starts doing research on "Employee Engagement", there are a couple of very well known groups that appear frequently having conducted major research on employee or "human capital" patterns of behavior. Both Aon and Towers Watson have provided insightful research on the topic.

From Aon's "Trends in Global Engagement" Report:

"Engaged employees deliver better performance, which is critical for business success. They understand their role in the business strategy, have a strong connection and commitment to the company, are more involved, and strive to go above and beyond in their jobs. The bottom line is that employee engagement matters—now more than ever. And the solutions for maintaining or improving engagement are increasingly complex for companies operating in an environment of instability and varied economic conditions. Striving to maintain a higher level of employee engagement not only contributes toward short-term survival during economic volatility, but is also a key factor for longer-term business performance and better positioning when market conditions become favorable. The companies that get engagement “right” will enjoy a source of competitive advantage in talent strategy and business results that is hard for others to replicate."

Embed engagement into business practices - engaging employees can't be a side thought. It needs to be part of the culture and fabric of the organization. Growing a culture of collaboration that allows employees easy and rapid communication speeds up both internal and external, employee and customer satisfaction.

From the Towers Watson 2012 Global Workforce Study — conducted with 32,000 employees across 30 countries:

“The first gap is effectively enabling workers with internal support, resources and tools, which can take a variety of forms. Think of the helpful supervisor who prioritizes and organizes work, regardless of whether the employee is in front of him or her, or 1,000 miles away working at home or in a remote office. Think of efficient technology that works (and a helpful help desk when it doesn’t). Think of a collegial work team ready to jump in to help. Or of online tools and processes that give remote or contract workers access to information and guidance to make good job-related decisions in real time.”

“When engagement starts to decline, companies become vulnerable not only to a measurable drop in productivity, but also to poorer customer service and greater rates of absenteeism and turnover.” (from Towers Watson 2012 study)

Keeping employees engaged leads to happier employees and ultimately that translates to happier customers. This is outlined clearly in a post on the Harvard Business Review Blog by Tony Schwartz, entitled "How Employee Engagement Hits the Bottom Line". In this post, Tony Schwartz praises the results of the 2012 Towers Watson study that "makes the most powerful, bottom line case yet for the connection between how we feel at work and how we perform." 

He writes further; "For leaders, the key is to begin thinking of themselves as Chief Energy Officers. Energy is contagious, for better and for worse, and disproportionately so for leaders — by virtue of their influence. "The manager is at the heart of what we might think of as a personal employee ecosystem," the Towers Watson study concludes, "shaping individual experience ... day in and day out.""

Side Note: Interestingly enough, Tony Schwartz also has the record for the most read blog post in 2012 on the HBR site with a post that everyone should read to reset their multitasking behavior and expectations for more depth and productivity. "The Magic of Doing One Thing at a Time" by Tony Schwartz

Most of the social engagement rhetoric comes down to directing an organization’s focus on building a customer-centric organization starting from the inside out. Without the employee and customer-centric internal health of the organization, the external or customer-facing engagement is doomed for failure. Here’s an interesting video from the 2012 Oracle OpenWorld Customer Experience Summit Keynote with one of our partners, SapientNitro speaking with customer, Vail Resorts, on the importance of building a customer-centric corporate culture.



There has been a lot written about how to better engage with your customers across all of the new and existing or "legacy" channels of communication. Most companies were used to evaluating how well they were doing in retail or other face to face engagement modes. With the rapid growth of online and social engagement venues, today's successful organizations have been forced to align their channels for message consistency, culture, and context. 

For a deeper dive into this subject, not so long ago, we hosted Ray Wang, Principal Analyst & CEO from Constellation Research as part of our Social Business Thought Leaders Webcast Series where he spoke on the 9 C’s of Customer Engagement - How to Engage Your Customers and Employees.


Friday Oct 26, 2012

Paper-free Customer Engagement

Appropriate repost from our friends at the AIIM blog: Digital Landfill -- John Mancini, supporting our mission of enabling customer engagement through better technology choices.

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My wife didn't even give me a card for #wpfd - and they say husbands are bad at remembering anniversaries

Well, today is the third World Paper Free Day.  I just got off the Tweet Jam, and there was a host of ideas for getting rid of -- or at least reducing -- paper.

World Paper Free HandbookWhen we first started talking about "paper-free" most of the reasons raised to pursue this direction were "green" reasons.  I'm glad to see that the thinking has moved on to questions about how getting rid of paper and digitizing processes helps improve customer engagement.  And the bottom line.  And process responsiveness.  Not that the "green" reasons have gone away, but it's nice to see a maturation in the BUSINESS reasons to get rid of paper.

Our World Paper Free Handbook (do not, do not, do not print it!) looks at how less paper in the workplace delivers significant benefits. Key findings show eliminating paper from processes can improve the responsiveness of customer service by 300 percent. Removing paper from business processes and moving content to PCs and tablets has the added advantage of helping companies adopt mobile-enable processes and eliminate elapsed time, lost forms, poor data and re-keying.

To effectively mobile-enable processes and reduce reliance on paper, data should be captured as close to the point of origination as possible, which makes information easily available to whomever needs it, wherever they are, in the shortest time possible. This handbook summarizes the value of automating manual, paper-based processes. It then goes a step beyond to provide actionable steps that will set you on the path to productivity, profitability, and, yes, less paper. 

Get your copy today and send the link around to your peers and colleagues.  Here's the link; please share it!

http://www.aiim.org/Research-and-Publications/Research/AIIM-White-Papers/WPFD-Revolution-Handbook

And don't miss out on the real world discussions about increasing engagement with WebCenter in new webinars being offered over the next couple of weeks: 

October 30, 2012:  ResCare Solves Content Lifecycle Challenges with Oracle WebCenter

November 1, 2012: WebCenter Content for Applications: Streamline Processes with Oracle WebCenter Content Management for Human Resources Applications

Available On-Demand:  Using Oracle WebCenter to Content-Enable Your Business Applications

Tuesday Oct 23, 2012

Customer Engagement: Are Your Customers Engaged With Your Brands?

Social Engagement with Brands increases spendEngaging Customers is Critical for Business Growth

This week we'll be spending some time looking at Customer Engagement. We all have stories about how we try to engage our customers better than ever before.  We all know that successfully engaging customers is critical to an organization’s business success. We also know that engaging our customers is more challenging today than ever before. There is so much noise to compete with for getting anyone's attention. Over the last decade and a half we’ve watched as the online channel became a primary one for conducting our business and even managing our lives. And during this whole process or evolution, the customer journey has grown increasingly complex. Customers themselves have assumed increasing power and influence over the purchase process and for setting the tone and pace of the relationships they have with brands and you see the evidence of this in the really high expectations that customers have today. They expect brand experiences that are personalized and relevant -- In other words they want experiences that demonstrate that the brand understands their interests, preferences and past interactions with them. They also expect their experience with a brand and the community surrounding it to be social and interactive – it’s no longer acceptable to have a static, one-way dialogue with your customer base or to fail to connect your customers with fellow customers, or with your employees and partners. And on top of all this, customers expect us to deliver this rich and engaging, personalized and interactive experience, in a consistent way across a variety of channels including web, mobile and social channels or even offline venues such as in-store or via a call center. And as a result, we see that delivery on these expectations and successfully engaging your customers is a great challenge today.

Customers expect a personal, engaging and consistent online customer experience. Today’s consumer expects to engage with your brand and the community surrounding it in an interactive and social way. Customers have come to expect a lot for the online customer experience. 

·        They expect it to be personal:

o   Accessible:  - Regardless of my device  Via my existing online identities 

o   Relevant:  Content that interests me 

o   Customized:  To be able to tailor my online experience 

·        They expect it to be engaging:

o   Social:  So I can share content with my social networks 

o   Intuitive:  To easily find what I need  

o   Interactive:  So I can interact with online communities

And they expect it to be consistent across the online experience – so you better have your brand and information ducks in a row.Oracle Social Business Thought Leaders Webcast Series

These expectations are not only limited to your customers by any means. Your employees (and partners) are also expecting to be empowered with engagement tools across their internal and external communications and interactions with customers, partners and other employees. We had a great conversation with Ted Schadler from Forrester Research entitled: "Mobile is the New Face of Engagement" that is now available On-Demand. Take a look at all the webcasts available to watch from our Social Business Thought Leader Series.

Facebook recommendations make a difference

Social capabilities have become so pervasive and changed customers’ expectations for their online experiences. The days of one-direction communication with customers are at an end. Today’s customers expect to engage in a dialogue with your brand and the community surrounding it in an interactive and social way. You have at a very short window of opportunity to engage a customer before they go to another site in their pursuit of information, product, or services. In fact, customers who engage with brands via social media tend to spend more that customers who don’t, between 20% and 40% more.  And your customers are also increasingly influenced by their social networks too – 40% of consumers say they factor in Facebook recommendations when making purchasing decisions.  This means a few different things for today’s businesses. Incorporating forms of social interaction such as commenting or reviews as well as tightly integrating your online experience with your customers’ social networking experiences into the online customer experience are crucial for maintaining the eyeballs on your desired pages.

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Notes/Sources:

93% - Cone Finds that Americans Expect Companies to Have a Presence in Social Media - http://www.coneinc.com/content1182

40% of consumers factor in Facebook recommendations when making decisions about purchasing (Increasing Campaign Effectiveness with Social Media, Syncapse, March 2011)

20%-40% - Customers who engage with a company via social media spend this percentage more with that company than other customers (Source: Bain & Company Report – Putting Social Media to Work)

Friday Sep 07, 2012

Can’t Miss Webinar: The Nine Cs of Customer Engagement

In recent years, we’ve seen social media evolve from a cool but unproven medium to become the foundation of pragmatic social business and a driver of business value.  Yet, with the onset of social media fatigue, time seems to be running out for businesses to make the most out of this important channel for customer engagement. Attend our upcoming webcast to hear industry analyst R “Ray” Wang of Constellation Research explain how to apply the nine Cs of customer engagement. Hosted by Senior Director of Evangelism for Oracle WebCenter, Christian Finn, this webcast promises a lively discussion where you'll learn:

  • How to overcome social media fatigue and make the most of the medium
  • Why engagement is the most critical factor in the age of overexposure
  • The nine pillars of successful customer engagement
This event is part of our Social Business Thought Leaders Webcast Series featuring industry experts with leading perspectives about how social tools, technology, and the changing workplace are affecting businesses today. You can register for upcoming webcasts or view past webcasts on demand here.

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Oracle WebCenter is the center of engagement for business—powering exceptional experiences for customers, partners, and employees. It connects people, process, and information with the most complete portfolio of portal, Web experience management, content, imaging and collaboration technologies.

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