Managing CX in the Age of Digital Disruption

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Most companies first approached digital and social media tactically. Creating a Twitter handle and a Facebook page, they said, "Happy Monday and buy our stuff." Naturally, they were disappointed with the results.

The majority of companies today don't have a point of reference to tell them if what they are doing will drive better results in customer service, customer experience, and marketing. They want to know how to do more of the right things and make smarter decisions; reduce the politics, get alignment, and come to a consensus on best next steps; justify the plan to senior leadership; track their progress; and have the investment in social media deliver real, accelerated business results.

While the pre-chasm adopters/innovators have been on board for a while, the real impact of social media on business depends on its adoption by the early majority. These pragmatists are waiting to find out the impact of social media on the bottom line. The following seven-step model should help clear up the hype about digital and social channels and show executives how they can use these channels to drive business results like never before.

Step 1: Insights

Most companies start at Step 5, with interactions, when they should be starting here, by gaining insight—into their audience, their competitors, and how their company is perceived. Companies that customers have negative feelings about find this out quickly when they launch into digital and social technology and see a field of #fail messages. You can't sell to people who are mad, so you have to listen to figure out what's right, what's wrong, and what would be better if.... Then implement a plan to fix what's not working.

Step 2: Benchmark

Social media/digital innovators didn't ask for permission; they asked for forgiveness. But today, the only way to get, keep, or expand a budget is to provide a business case. Budgets are stuck; digital/social software vendors jockey for position with similar promises. It's confusing at best.

Companies need to benchmark themselves compared to their competitors and best practices and set business goals and measurements. The key? Using proven business cases as examples of how a digital/social technology affects traditional business metrics. Without success stories, companies can't explain why they need (more) resources and budget.

Step 3: Target Audience and Step 4: Content

Part of the value of social channels is the relevant, exponential reach of customers and brand ambassadors (Step 3) who share content (Step 4) with your key audiences. This drives awareness, leads to higher conversation rates, and solves customers' problems. Figure out how to tell your brand's story using digital and social channels to highlight its benefits.

Step 5: Interactions

Without Steps 1 through 4, interactions will be dull and ineffective, and have little chance of hitting business goals. But companies that follow this type of structured strategy and choose the right technology to scale interactions see a return on their investment.

Step 6: Organizational Alignment

Corporate politics should be a white-collar crime. They waste money, time, and resources. The issue? CEOs are delegating digital channels down into their organization. Figuring out who should interact with the digital/social customer is more complicated than ever. Businesses need strong leadership and organizational change management so that Steps 1 through 5 don't get tied up and stall.

Step 7: Iterate and Pivot

Without a clear plan in place and a way to evaluate its success, it can be difficult to iterate and pivot so that the business can do more of the right things in real time.

Don't Fall Behind

The idea of listening and change isn't new. Scholars such as Edward Deming explored it decades ago, and the authors of The Cluetrain Manifesto predicted in 1999 that there would be a time when the customer's and employee's voice would matter. That time is now. Consider a company that is listening to its customers and employees and making changes. Then consider one that isn't. Over five years, the first type of company will have innovated its products and services. The second will become the DEC, Tower Records, and Circuit City of the future. Social business is as simple as that. Which type of company will yours be?

Natalie Petouhoff, Ph.D., is vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research. She can be reached via Twitter @Dr.Natalie or at www.DrNatalieNews.com.

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