What does “social” mean in business terms? Does it mean more Twitter engagement, more blog posts, more customer self-service portals… live chat? Well, for one thing, a “social business” is not the same thing as “being social” (e.g., talking to someone on the phone, or friends sending articles back and forth via Gmail). It takes much more than responding to a customer complaint on Facebook for a business to be considered social.
Forrester Research gets to the bottom of this “social” business (pun intended) in their report Social Businesses Excel at Customer Experience. Forrester says a social business is “an organization that removes barriers between individuals and information while making it easy for people to find and engage with those who can help them solve customer and business problems.” Social businesses, simply put, excel at 2 things (the combination of which adds up to a great Customer Experience): they respond to customers wants and needs quickly — mainly by giving employees the tools and authority they need to take immediate action.
No surprise there; happy customers are the result of a great Worker Experience. It’s getting there that takes work.
What do social businesses do?
As Forrester tells us, social businesses have a corporate culture that does 3 things:
- Encourages a workforce that shares information, rather than hoarding it. Just as technology implemented in silos will fail, so will information gathered but isolated in separate camps across an organization.
- Brings external partners into processes that make experiences possible. Customer Experience teams not only need to remove barriers to knowledge; they need to make sure the experience remains consistent once a business partner takes the reins.
- Motivates customers to be part of improving the Customer Experience. Businesses have so many opportunities to interact with customers, and yet we still find that too many companies are pushing out information, rather than asking customers for feedback, and then using those actionable insights to do something good. (For instance, my boyfriend gets frequent emails from Pinterest targeted to specific interests. Good idea, poor execution; these “interests” aren’t things that even pique his.) There’s no transformation without the right information.
Item Likewise, information needs to be shared externally — to foster a better worker-customer relationship. Customer-facing teams need to leverage the idea and practice of knowledge sharing in order to improve customer experiences. “Knowledge is power” is a centuries-old phrase; it’s time to act on it.
Forrester gives us a great example: To make it easier to get patients into the U.S., the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center works with the embassies of their patients’ home countries to get all the essentials taken care of (i.e., arrange visas, deal with billing, and clarify exchange rates). The hospital uses a file sharing service to streamline the document exchanges required to handle these tasks with speed and precision. This is a connected, consistent experience, keeping things running smoothly at every customer touchpoint.
Depending on your business, methods of asking customers what kind of Customer Experience they want can include: smartly timed surveys through Medallia, a customer self-service portal, polls on Twitter… (Example: Salesforce uses its community to give customers a voice in its products’ development roadmaps.) Your customers are already here, clammering for attention. The job of your Customer Experience team is now to:
- Find out where customers’ best experiences are being had (e.g., in a brick-and-mortar store of yours, on a certain landing page, etc.). Data doesn’t lie; it can tell you where customers are most enjoying themselves and getting the answers they need.
- Found it? That’s where you should begin asking customers for feedback.