For years, companies have considered customer service as a cost, as a necessary administrative expense. And, that is why, when the bad time hit, these companies tried to cut the cost through various initatives. Manytimes, people within the companies gave these initiatives nice fancy names like process innovations, or automations or customer relationship management! Anyway, whatever the name, they have added a lot of automated layers between the company and the customers making it more difficult to gain true customer feedback. That is why, despite the increasing investment and advancements in market research techniques, analytics and CRM technologies, when someone talked about having meaningful conversation with customers it sounds fancy and unreal.
With the customer centric eco-system, and emergence of active, "social customers", it has become essential for companies to “friend” their customers, have more frequent customer feedback and engage them in meaningful conversations. When the amount of customer data is getting more and more complex, getting a good quality feedback and engaging customer into a meaningful conversation has become a challenge. To meet this challenge, it is important to have the whole organizations involved in engaging customers; this collaborative engagement needs to be strategically linked with business objectives.
Recently, in a webinar “Making Social Media Work for You”, Dave Evans, the author of the book Social Media Marketing, explained how to link collaborative engagement with the business objectives. According to him, all three aspects, processes, metrics and measurement of the collaborative engagement, are important for ongoing meaningful conversations. There can be many different ways to engage customers to get feedback, and it is important to pick the right approach that matchs organizational strategy. In addition to picking the right approach, one needs to measure the impact of the feedback and ongoing conversations. To measure this impact, more research is needed to explore the related theories frameworks for developing the right metrics to measure engagement, influence and advocacy.