Predicting The Immediate Future: 2011

Like the great white shark skimming under the surface of the ocean waves…it’s there… 2011 is lurking around the corner.  (Can you hear the theme “ba-dump….  ba-dump” in your head?)

This is a good time of year  to reflect on how well you did (or are expected to do) in 2010 and prepare your “strategies for next year”. If you are in marketing and/or Customer Relationship Management (you CRM people know who you are…)  you will probably be looking at how to balance multi-channel (or “integrated”) approaches in combination with the rise of online social networks and new technologies to seek new (e.g. Prospect) relationships and mine both data and experience feedback. You may even be thinking about how to design Customer experiences that drive word-of-mouth through these social networks.  Well…I am.

3 (three) things you should (have) be(en) doing:

  1. Preparing your organization for multi/cross-channel interaction with your Customers is considered “deferred maintenance”. If you didn’t purposely design for a multi/cross-channel Customer engagement strategy already, you are lagging behind.  And yes, social media should be added to the mix too – but you knew that, right?   And don’t forget: this is not about designing for a one-way highway out of your building. You need to design for incoming traffic too. Or better even, for places you and your Customers can meet and exchange knowledge, ideas and experiences.  We call this… the “brand experience”. You can call it that too.
  2. Secondly: influence in Social Networks is not new.  What has changed is that peer trust has increased in importance for customers and more so that “first hand stories of experience” are accessible for them. Enabling your Customers to share their experience with peers and other Customers is an important first step. Make sure your aim is not only to spread the good stories, but that you learn from them and the forces that drive the social networks of your Customers too.
  3. Finally: the importance of Customer experience is not new either, nor has its importance increased. We just need to get better at it every day, to keep up with the increasingly rapid pace of change in the market place. More importantly: don’t limit your experience design to the Customer’s journey ending in a sale.

Embrace This…

Leading companies are doing, or have already adopted the above philosophies and actions. More importantly they have adopted a way of thinking and acting that has provided them with access to new insights, new technologies, new market segments, more new and loyal Customers and evidently a better position in the market place to continue to grow. I believe you should not try to copy what they are doing or have done. It is about embracing the “notions” that are feeding their strategies and actions.

These companies have embraced:

  1. the belief that (1 on 1) push-marketing strategies and transaction-based Customer analytics are strategies with diminishing returns;
  2. the belief that Customers are not means to extract value from, but can be, want to be and are, active participators in the process of mutual value co-creation;
  3. the belief that this implies a shift in focus from marketing for value exchange to marketing for value in use;
  4. the belief that opening up their knowledge stocks and continuously tapping into the flows of knowledge both inside and outside their companies provides them with competitive advantage;
  5. the belief that empowering people (and with people I mean Customers, employees and partners all alike) in communities of likeminded and/or shared interests to solve their problems or do their “Customer jobs” better than anyone else, trumps influencing people to sell to their community for you.

What methods, approaches and/or changes in (service system) design and (marketing and/or crm) actions would be required for a company to be able to say: “We master the capability of social, co-creative, conversational, service-dominant, pull, relationship marketing”?

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