Posts Tagged ‘customer marketing life cycle’

2010 will be a busy year of customer relationship building…for marketers

When Bruce Temkins of Forrester Research says on his blog (http://experiencematters.wordpress.com) that 2010 will be a busy year for customer experience, he says it right. Strategy, technology, knowing and building relationship with your customers, restoring purpose in your brand, and the list goes on, are all part and parcel of the busyness marketers will experience next year.

The other day I was a participant (@AdaMarcom) on a Twitter chat #sm38 with Charlene Li (@charleneli) and other great marketers discussing social media, she said social media will be a key differentiator for businesses in 2010, where companies/brands who do well in this arena will increase customer loyalty, I was a bit skeptical.

Yes, social media tools on websites can help differentiate your products from your competition. They will make customer experience more pleasant and welcoming. But when most companies are going on Twitter and Facebook, responding to sales inquiries and handling customer service questions, then what could have been a differentiator is now part of life (the way of doing business). Companies are expected to provide satisfactory customer service, be it via a social media tool, a mix of social media tools or over the phone and email. More so in 2010 and the years to come, given more choices and increased exposure to brands in the media (online, TV, print and events), customers are becoming more knowledgeable than ever. They’re not only becoming selective and knowledgeable about the products themselves, they’re also getting pickier than ever about their shopping experience, how companies handle their orders, and what sources/sites they’re getting their products from.

“Don’t think of social media as an incremental “thing” to be handed off to a consumer. Your social media strategy is an extension of your company’s behavior,” said James Kelly on Forbes.com’s CMO Network in an article named “CMOs: Don’t Give Up Those Brand Reins!”

Customer service experience, with a smart choice of technology and social media tools, is going to be the key differentiator of marketing success and good company behavior in 2010. May I call it the “all-around” customer service experience? When I can pick up the phone, send an email, tweet my question, post on a Facebook fan page about the product I’m considering, finding help to research the product I’m purchasing, rating my experience with the product (and the process of getting the product into my hand), YouTubing the way the product works if it’s really that cool to warrant a video of its own, I think that’s ultimate all-around customer service experience.

Customers still dominate the center-stage of product marketing; they still have the reins the last time I checked. Though Time magazine just announced the “Person of the Year” to be Ben Bernanke, I think the ultimate person of the year is “I” the customer.

Let’s end with this thought on customer loyalty, and we’ll expand on this discussion in my next post: “Real value of social media/technologies is that it creates deeper relationships. How do you measure relationships?” tweeted by @charleneli on the Twitter chat #sm38. Building strong customer relationships will help unleash the true value of social media and technologies, hence giving you the best bank for the buck you spent on achieving it.

I believe with the thinking of creating deeper relationships and measuring them, we as marketers will head the right direction in 2010.

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Are You Capturing Your Customers’ Full Value?

When customers buy from me, there I’ve proven that I’ve captured all the value (and revenue) to justify the time, energy and resource spent on my customers. Ain’t I capturing all the value there is?

You might be capturing some value, but probably not all. With the rising usage of social media, do you have a marketing engagement strategy to capture all the “social revenue” made possible by sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter? Based on the customer marketing life cycle, are you interacting with your customers at every major touch point? Are you under their radar all along? If not, then somewhere along the life cycle path you might be losing out to competition.

Let’s use the customer marketing life cycle flow chart to look at these key areas of engagement: want, need, research, evaluate, buy and use.

Customer Marketing Life Cycle

1) Awareness (WANT vs. NEED)

Heightened awareness is now made available through Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. With the many conversations, status updates, discussion groups and resource sharing happening online, be sure you’re part of the social conversations. Awareness drives engagement. The more you’ve increased your brand awareness, the more likely others will begin to engage with you (if they find your brand interesting and engagement-worthy). Be proactive and progressive in having dialogues with your customers on how you can add value to what they’re doing and try move the conversation to the next level – consideration.

2) Consideration (RESEARCH & EVALUATION)

Now that you’ve successfully guided your customers along the first part of the life cycle and brought them to come to terms with the different options, it’s time to dig in and do some research. This is the part where you can shine. Research studies, industry reports, white papers and insights that you can share with your customers will help you be part of the consideration here. If you’re engaging customers in this phase, you’re further down the road of closing a deal. But the engagement process doesn’t end here.

3) Purchase

Here’s the phase where you want to make sure customer service is achieving 100% client satisfaction. Customers who want to buy your products or services but are treated with subpar customer service during the transaction might ruin your chances for future engagement (i.e. repeat business) with them. Remember the social conversations that have brought you this point – you’ve built a relationship with your customers! Don’t let that relationship leave you or your brand. Bring it to a higher level. Be 100% certain that you’ve dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s during this phase of transaction. Seize the opportunity as your wedding ceremony (where you give the ring and seal the deal). It should never be a mere thanks-and-goodbye. The word gets out if customer service doesn’t deliver.

4) Ownership

Ownership is the customer support phase. Are you answering the questions posed? Are you continually engaging the customers to make sure they’re liking what they’ve purchased and would recommend others to buy it? Customer loyalty is cultivated in this phase and engagement here can potentially turn into influence. You’d better watch out “influence” here as this is what new buyer behavior is all about – every customer becomes a point of influence in the social conversations. Are you capturing the influence you need to take your business to the next level?  

Do you survey your customers? Are you actively finding out whether your customers felt positive about the consideration process, purchase experience and usage of your product/service? What type of feedback are you providing to your customers when your receive their comments? As you can tell, social conversations didn’t end with ownership nor will they in the future as long as your business and brand exist. Ongoing engagement with your customers will keep you focused on the purpose of your involvement in social media and keep the energy and innovation flowing. More business to come!

Related post: 2010 will be a busy year of customer relationship building...for marketers