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Understanding Your 21st Century

Customer - Draft

Understanding
st

Your 21 Century
Customer
Commerce and Experience in an
Interconnected World

By Lisa Galarneau, Ph.D. and David Clark

Understanding Your 21st Century


Customer - Draft

Abstract
The world of the customer has changed significantly
in the last twenty years. The advent of the Internet
and its introduction into mainstream culture shook
the roots of modern consumer culture. However
there is also quite a lot that hasnt changed.
Humans are fundamentally complex social and
individualistic creatures and commerce transactions
are widely supported by interaction and
conversation, both online and off. This is as true in a
physical marketplace as a digital one. In this book
we will chart the evolution of the 21st century
connected customer, and outline key strategies for
leveraging their intrinsic motivation to participate
and co-create within the commercial and global
ecosystems.

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Authors
Lisa Galarneau, Ph.D. is a socio-cultural
anthropologist and media scholar who specializes in
collective intelligence, customer behavior and
emerging technology spaces.
David Clark is VP of Marketing at SDL Social
Intelligence.

Understanding Your 21st Century


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Table of Contents

Chapter 1:

The Customer of the Future

Chapter 2:

The Customer Journey

Chapter 3:

The Customer Commitment

Chapter 4:

Measuring Customer Commitment and Predicting and


the Customer Journey

Chapter 5:

Cultivating Engagement in the Global Commerce


Ecosystem

Chapter 6:

Architecting the Customer-centric Business

Understanding Your 21st Century


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Chapter 1: The 21st Century Customer


The loyal and committed customer. Longed for by
many an ambitious enterprise, yet forging a
committed relationship is as difficult in the
commerce space as it is in any human relationship.
Add the dichotomy of the connecting and
fragmenting forces of global change and the myriad
digital and social technologies available to us and the
entire context for commerce shifts.
But does it really?
The truth is that while technology has shifted and
novel social options abound, customers are still
fundamentally human and their behaviors and
perspectives are of a human nature, even when
institutions and structures do everything they can to
apply their own agendas to the customer journey.
Human beings embody millions of years of physical
and social evolution that shape their preferences,
behaviors and quirks. Technology enhances many of
these proclivities and exacerbates others. Choices
abound, and alternatives are in ever-growing, endless
supply. Customers operate on a continuum from
individual interactions with organizations they do
business with, to highly collaborative interactions
involving a large number of participants and co-

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creators. With such a set of ever-shifting variables,
how can organizations best learn to understand and
engage the ever-evolving, technology-enabled
customer? What skills do they cultivate to increase
their survival in commerce situations? How do they
deal with the pace of change themselves, including
an exponential increase in information and
connections to knowledge? [1]

The first step is to understand and focus on the


fundamentals.
A few key questions:
Why does your organization need
customers?
Is it for revenue, or for other reasons, like
amplifying your message or finding evangelists
or volunteers?
What sorts of relationships are lucrative
for you and advantageous for them?
How can your organizations best
leverage engagement and associated
behaviors to further organizational goals and
capitalize on the vibrancy of the modern
consumer space?

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A brief history of commerce
According to Wikipedia, commerce is the whole
system of an economy that constitutes an
environment for business. The historical record is
replete with documentation of commerce
transactions, going back to Sumerian and
Mesopotamian tablets that are several thousand
years old. Many of the stone tablets utilize a form of
writing called cuneiform, which uses a small stylus to
make marks in soft clay. A large percentage of the
found tablets are simply inventories and ledgers of
commerce transactions [2].

Figure 1 Cuneiform Tablet

These archaeological finds point to formal systems of


commerce going back several millennia. However
they do not reflect a much longer human history of
commerce that is not so aptly illustrated in written
archaeological records. Many clues to commerce do
survive, as documented by historians like Peter
Watson, who dates the advent of long-distance
trading and commerce to over 150,000 years ago.
We know that traders used a variety of currencies in

Understanding Your 21st Century


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these early transactions, including spices, salt, tea,
coffee, gunpowder, and weapons.[3]
Its highly likely that bartering and trading are
fundamental to the construction of human societies,
even among smaller tribal cultures. We have
certainly seen many examples of this, including the
trading activities of colonial nation-states with tribal
cultures around the world. Commerce is a kind of
lubrication, an ice-breaker for more significant
cultural interactions. Having access to interesting
products and technologies augments social capital
(how ones reputation is reflected in the social/tribal
milieu) and gives all parties a common foundation for
interaction [4].

A nail from Bristol, England, which


gave rise to the term, cash on the nail
Figure 2

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In 1999, the Cluetrain Manifesto reminded us that
markets are conversations, and it has been
suggested that commerce might have been a
fundamental aspect of the development of human
communication and diplomacy. [5] Conversation is
the basis of negotiation around commerce: What do
you have to trade, what do I have, and how can we
come to agreeable terms? Discussion also follows
the transactions, as people share the accumulated
resources, reveal their sources, and reflect
individually and socially on how their new
acquisitions affect their lives.
In recent years, however, as mass communication
became the modus operandi of many organizations,
the focus on conversation fell by the wayside. Many
modern communication technologies were initially
uni-directional: a message crafted by an
organization and distributed to the masses.
Consumers were depicted as docile vessels to be
filled with brand and product messages, with the
hope that this branding would change them into
long-term loyal customers, so well branded that
they cannot escape. [6] Sometimes this worked well.
A successful brand could communicate its value
proposition through consistent and ever expanding
product offerings, and this was frequently a win-win
for all involved.

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Print, radio and television advertising spread brand
messages far and wide, and sales numbers reflected
the efficacy of such efforts. Prior to the Internet,
considered decisions were researched at the library,
or by reading publications like Consumer Reports,
Blue books, and even manuals associated with
products of interest. But a classic problem in
advertising has always been how to connect the dots
between cause (advertising) and effect (purchase).
In the early days brand managers could point directly
to advertising as a trigger, particularly as the masses
consumed more or less the same publications and
media. In short, choices in the marketplaces of
decades ago were limited and potential customers
were somewhat easily influenced because of those
limited choices.
With the advent of the Internet, however, many of
these established mechanisms became less
powerful. No longer could a company like Ford
announce a new automobile and expect the masses
to flock automatically to the dealerships with
checkbooks in hand. The free-flow of information on
the Internet meant that brand and advertising
messages became inextricably diluted, and the
ability of consumers to co-create information meant
that the voices weighing in on brand and product
choice became much more diverse. [7] In addition to
the opportunities novel channels could bring,
organizations found themselves struggling in a new

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landscape marked by grassroots organization, fan
and anti-fan cultures, and the uncontrollable chaos of
information and misinformation perpetuated by
newly liberated and increasingly verbose Internet
citizens.
86 percent of people skip TV commercials, yet brands still spent
$19.8 billion last year on TV spots. (Outside the Beltway and PR
Daily)

A few strange phenomena have also emerged.


Computer manufacturer HP has reported that 20% of
its manual sales are now pre-purchase acquisitions.
Armed with the minutiae of technical specifications,
customers can make better decisions about what to
buy, and they are prepared to make small
investments in advance for this information. This is a
tiny example of consumers taking back their power
and changing many paradigms taken for granted in
our long-standing commerce culture. Its something
that the 21st organization must reconcile: the rules
have changed, and consumers are more and more in
control of their commerce destinies.
The most important key to successful commerce in
the 21st century is to establish engaging, fulfilling
relationships with existing and potential customers,
as well as potential partners and collaborators. It is
no longer enough to broadcast a message and
expect consumers to acquiesce by running to the
store or to a website to buy a promoted item. Now

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the successful organization must deeply understand
its customers and learn how to develop ongoing
mechanisms of bi-directional conversation rooted in a
sense of mutual cooperation and community. Oneto-many has been replaced by many-to-many and
many-to-one interactions, and the smart organization
must learn to listen deeply to the marketplace and its
communication and sharing proclivities. [8] Then
they must be prepared to respond promptly,
appropriately and authentically.
This listening constitutes a kind of organizational
commitment that resonates deeply with the modern
customer who thinks: Youre listening to me and
responding to my needs! Customers now take these
forms of participation and co-creation for granted,
and the organizations who stubbornly stick to their
non-customer-centric guns during customer
interactions will find themselves losing more and
more ground.
The new culture of commerce is not unlike romantic
dating, in fact. An organization is a potential suitor
and must actively court the objects of its desire. It
must listen to what the person finds important, what
resonates with them, and how they choose to
communicate and resolve issues. A lack of
sensitivity in this area causes the consumer to think
the organization doesnt care about them, which is
ultimately a powerful brand diluter that causes the

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consumer to go elsewhere for the affection,
validation and opportunities they seek.
So how does an organization learn to be a good
partner in commerce?
The 21st century customer relationship toolkit relies
on listening, responding to requests for interaction,
and being proactive about anticipating future needs
and desires of rapidly evolving customers.
Interconnected consumers are very open about their
feelings and speculations, and this can be a
significant intelligence boon for organizations. Let
your customers be your guideposts, and demonstrate
your loyalty to them at every opportunity. To do
otherwise is a big risk for a business to take: one
disgruntled customer might have a strong voice and
audience, and might be able to influence many,
many people. By the same token, one happy
customer can be responsible for an Internet
phenomenon that converts potential customers
better than any advertising campaign ever could.
Modern customers are simply people moving through
life day-to-day, on a journey that is individual yet
deeply rooted in collaborative interactions with
others. The holistic and global perspective is critical,
as is understanding people as complex beings in a
collective ecosystem enabled by global interconnection and communication.

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Upon this novel foundation, the 21st century
customer now has more reach and influence than
ever before. They communicate openly and demand
to be heard, but are also very open to hearing from
(and being influenced by) others, as they have
learned that the best information comes from others
on similar customer journeys. Never before has the
global, collective mind been so inter-connected and
so accessible. This is a phenomenon that the nimble
organization of the 21st century understands very
well, and even writes into its mission statements.
To listen, to respond, to anticipate are the demands
of the modern marketplace, and the successful
organizations of the future are those who manage to
effectively operationalize such promises. But they
also must write these notions into the core values of
their organizations, creating a customer response
culture internally. The default over these many years
has been a kind of warfare between customer and
the organizations that serve them. The fact of the
matter is that people are sick of being at war with
the organizations that purport to serve them. This is
a sea change that established institutions need to
take very seriously.
The upside to all of this is that this situation is easily
remedied with a small perspective shift: customers
are your partners in commerce, and your stance is

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one of cooperation, collaboration, communication,
and yes, respect. The respected and loved customer
will love you back. The disrespected customer will
tell everyone what a jerk you are. Simple rules in a
complex time.

Chapter 2: The Customer Journey


In recent years mapping the customer journey has
been a key component of many customer experience
efforts. [9] For example, Google launched a
successful e-book called The Zero Moment of Truth,
which calls into question many traditional thinking
patterns on the customer journey. [10] In Googles
case, they ponder the effects of a highly educated
and increasingly digital customer base, who begin
their shopping endeavors with a deep, often
systematic, reviewing process of available resources
online and off. Google realizes that one of its jobs as
an effective commerce partner is to provide just the
right information at the right time, using any
mechanism (cell phone, web, smart phone, tablet,
etc.) that a potential customer deems useful. Its the
customer credo of the 21st century: I want what I
want, how I want it, when I want it, and where I want
it. Give it to me, please, or I will easily go elsewhere
to satisfy my need.

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The 21st century customer journey is a collection of
commerce experiences co-created by organizations
and the customers they serve. These journey
interactions move customers and potential
customers along a continuum from lack of awareness
(of brand, product or service) to robust customer
commitment. The markers of customer commitment
are as many and varied as the customers and global
cultures served. It can run the gamut from
enrollment in reward/loyalty programs, to
contributing to blogs, reviews or ratings online, to
connecting with other people who share their
interests and commitments, or to purchasing or
subscribing to products and services over the long
term.

Figure 3

A typical customer journey map.

http://www.servicedesigntools.org/tools/8
Customer journey mapping is a useful task as it helps
an organization align its many marketing efforts and
operational services directly to customer needs.
Unfortunately, however, many of these efforts have

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failed to take into account something fundamental to
human nature and commerce: that customers are
both complex social and individualistic beings, and
much, but not all, of their perspective and behaviors
are rooted in the collective context.
The modern human swims in a vast ocean of
information. They consume, assimilate it and
produce it. Humans are now exposed to thousands
of times the information that early humans were
exposed to. [11] And this information, in the form of
the Internet and offline interactions, as well, is in
constant flux. The modern human needs help
supporting wheat from chaff, and if the organizations
they want to co-create with dont supply this help,
they know where to find it, via reviews, discussion
boards, forums, friends they can call on, and more
recently, social media and other tools for exploring
and filtering options in the marketplace.
Because digital media and tools are a relatively new
phenomenon, there is a lot of confusion among
marketers, brand managers, and operational
personnel about how best to utilize them. [12] Both
successes and gaffes abound, with the holy grail
called virality a dream in every marketers mind. [13]
Too often these efforts are tactical steps taken ad hoc
by outbound marketing contributors, when they
should actually be consistently tied to larger
strategic initiatives.

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Leveraging the Internet and digital/social media
should not be just about listening and engaging with
customers, but instead, should be about driving
business through key performance indicators (KPIs)
that map, measure and diagnose challenges and
opportunities in the customer journey from initial
awareness to total engagement and evangelism. [14]
This means looking at activities both online and
offline, and in both individualistic and social contexts.
In turn the customer journey can be optimized, the
customer experience enhanced, and the outcomes
predicted in lock-step with corporate, sales and
marketing goals. These are the outcomes that matter
to executives, and in turn, denote the overall
relevancy of your organization and marketing
activities.
RELEVANCY means: 'The quality or state of being
relevant; pertinency; applicability' or 'related to the
matter at hand'. To be relevant means that you are
adapting to the needs and wants of the people you
interact with. It means listening, customizing,
personalizing, anticipating , understanding,
sympathizing, adapting, responding, cooperating,
conversing, collaborating, empathizing, tolerating,
respecting... Someday soon people won't tolerate
irrelevance.

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Companies have mainly used social media to listen
and track customer sentiment, brand loyalty, or to
prevent a bad event from going viral on the web. But
how can companies go from listening and truly
leverage both offline and Internet participation data
into a source of actionable intelligence that
ultimately creates customers and advocates? How
can marketers make the leap from unstructured
conversations to identifying individual behaviors and
experiences, and fully leverage the individual and
social customer journey as it unfolds offline and on?
The core principle of customer relationship
management (CRM) and customer experience
management (CXM) is the more you engage with
your customers, the more you know about them.
[15] Understanding your customers is a key way to
anticipate their needs and make predictions about
brand and product strategies. This can be
accomplished if companies can harness the sales
data, collective intelligence and social media dataset,
and move it from the generic aggregate to maps of
individual and social experiences. Another important
factor is to analyze data collected over time, as
overall trends and ongoing sentiment are only
apparent through longitudinal study. [16]
Gartner research conducted in 2011* gathered the following
statistics:

86% of consumers said they would pay more for


a better customer experience

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58% of consumers said they would recommend


companies that deliver customer experiences that
are superior to others

The percentage of consumers who give a brand


only one week to respond to a question before they stop
doing business was 50%

The 21st Century Customer Journey


The customer journey represents different touchpoints that characterize his/her interaction with the
brand, product or service of interest. Customer
journeys can be "cradle to grave," looking at the
entire arc of engagement from one brand or product
to the next. At other times, journey maps are used
to look at very specific customer-company
interactions such as buying and setting up consumer
electronics. All too often they are developed from an
organization-centric point of view that assumes
customer journeys are linear, and fail to take into
account that customers and potential customers
enact their own versions of the journey with
variations from brand to brand, product to product,
service to service. [17] Some journeys also cross
brands, services and products, which is another
aspect to be considered.
One thing most customer journey efforts overlook is
that important components of the journey are

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inherently social. They always have been, in fact.
Customers cannot be separated from their social
context, and touch points are rarely directly
manifested into tangible behavior in one sitting.
Instead the customer accumulates a rich mlange of
impressions that inform their conscious and subconscious decisions to purchase or build affinity.
21st Century Customer Journey Stages
Brand/Product Awareness
The journey stage when the potential customer
develops awareness of a brand or product.
These are impressions that can be built up over
time, and encompass both individual and social
impressions. Inputs can be formal advertising,
buzz, trends, influence of
friends/acquaintances, Internet sites,
digital/social media, etc. In a nutshell, it's
when they become aware of a solution that
meets a need or desire they already have, or
discover that they have once their interest is
piqued.
Organizations can increase the engagement
and satisfaction of customers and potential
customers by being available for any
commerce conversation that might occur at
any time, in any place, and across myriad

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offline mechanisms, websites and digital/social
media channels. This will enhance the
complete customer experience with
responsiveness (responding to individual
queries/concerns), relevancy (making sure
conversations are targeted and relevant to
customer need), engagement (reward
interactions online, as an example, or pique
customers with real-time, location-based
incentives to visit brick and mortar
establishments) and immediacy (Right here!
Right now!), all key drivers in the modern
customer experience. [18]
Brand/Product Connection
This is the stage when they connect their
need/desire with specific options available to
them, and understand the mechanisms for
learning more about specific products/brands.
They also learn the path for procurement: in
stores, online, streaming, downloads, preorders, etc. They begin listening to the
opinions of others and observe their
experiences over time. In short, they connect
their need tangibly to a potential solution they
have identified in the marketplace. At this
point a conversation can begin, if anyone is
listening and willing to engage.

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Brand/Product Evaluation
This is the stage when they begin to
systematically review their options, and weed
out undesirable or irrelevant options. They
might seek out opinions, read reviews,
download demos, view trailers, try on/sample
items in store, etc. They evaluate the
possibilities and weed out the irrelevant or
undesirable. Again, the savvy organization will
know how to provide the right information at
the right time, in whatever form the customer
needs, in order to move the journey process
forward. Otherwise there are a million
potential transactions that are stopped in their
tracks because the customer does not have the
information they need to proceed.
Shopping Experience Point of Sale
This is the stage when they actually initiate a
purchase. This can be in store or online, and
can be self-service, with friends or family, or
aided by salespeople, etc. Whether the
process is simple or arduous will have an
impact on their overall impression of the
product/brand. These impressions, especially
those most intense ones, are very likely to be
shared with others (if they havent been
already!). A good experience, on the other

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hand, will compel them to proceed, both on
emotional and practical levels. I am procuring
this item or service, and I need/want it, and I
feel good about the experience. Again, winwin for all involved.
Out Of Box Experience/Deployment
Once they get a product home, this is the outof-box experience, including
setup/configuration, etc. It's the equivalent for
retail items, as well. Is the item ready to use,
and easy to use, and is it what I expect? At this
point they might include others in the
experience, to help with setup or to give
feedback. Again they are likely to share their
experiences and impressions with others. They
are also likely to return a product or cancel a
service that does not fulfill the promise they
have imagined. Being quick to reconcile any
blips in the process is a great way to deal with
this. Considering customer service an
unfortunate cost of business, and trying to
over-automate it is not a good idea. Customers
know you can do better and will resent you if
you dont. Again, simple response, and a
natural one.
In Life Product Experience

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How does the product perform for them over
the longer term? Are they satisfied with the
item relative to the promise? Do they develop
an affinity for the product/brand, or do they
discontinue use? In the collaborative arena,
how do they communicate their experiences to
others? Again, there are customer services
issues at play here, like how angry someone
can get when their beloved product bites the
dust as soon as the warranty expires. Or when
the cost of ownership becomes unbearable due
to nickel and diming customers just so they can
keep their item (which they purchased with the
expectation that it would work long-term)
working. Customers frequently feel taken
advantage of, and exploited for the maximum
amount of money and commitment that an
organization feels they can get away with.
Customers are not your unwitting victims, and
you should stop treating them that way.
Service & Support
If they require service or support for their item,
is the experience productive and pleasant?
Whether or not they can resolve their issue and
continue use of the product is a big part of
their continued commitment to the product and
brand, as well as how they influence others to
engage. From a collective intelligence

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perspective, recognize that many connected
customers find their information and
resolutions outside of formal service/support
networks. Find out where those places are and
announce your intentions to help. Also look for
mechanisms and channels that really seem to
work, and use those ideas to innovate your
organizations own processes. Finally, dont be
afraid to crowdsource support efforts: why not
use committed customers to help with the
process? Compensate them with free access to
the products and services they love. Yet again,
win-win.
Long Term Commitment
The journey stage when they become longterm and repeat customers. They are likely to
upgrade, try new products offered by the
brand, and will promote and evangelize
products and brands in offline and online
contexts. If theyve gotten to this stage, you
are doing things right. But continue to reward
them whenever possible, with new
product/service offerings, or with tangible
rewards, with recognition of your affection
towards them. A company t-shirt or bumper
sticker can go a long way, and costs the
organization very little. Finally, remember that
committed customers are as important as to-

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be-acquired customers and utilize your
resources accordingly.
In summary, the 21st century customer journey is
never uniformly linear across customers or customer
groups. It is made up of a range of individual
experiences, exposure and response to myriad touch
points, and executed by the customer as a matter of
choice and personal agency. As our new generations
grow up to be capable consumers, this will be even
more and more apparent. The Internet unleashed a
Pandoras box of sorts, and free will and confidence
to enact that will are tough to put back in the box.
Instead, focus on building a constituency of
advocates, and know that each and every person and
each and every experience matter.
835 million people worldwide now have smartphones. This
means your customers can share their experiences with your
company with millions of others more easily than ever using
social media. Gartner predicts that "by 2015, 75% of consumers
will tell their friends about their good and bad
experiences using social media, up from 25% in 2010."

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Chapter 3: The Customer Commitment


The challenge that many organizations face is
understanding customers behaviors so that they can
continuously and quickly enhance their customers
experience being able to measure, better manage,
and optimize these experiences in real time.
Some key questions to ponder:
If a customer is becoming interested in
buying something from you, how do you
optimize that customers journey such that
they buy from you again and again? How do
you make it easy and not hard, so that the
purchase decision is a no brainer for the
customer?
How do you uncover and remove the
barriers in the purchasing journey, both offline
and online?
If your customer seems to be on the road
to becoming an advocate or evangelist, how do
you assist and enable them? What content,
programs, incentives or information should you
provide to help them to become your
advocate?
In which channels should you engage
them? Much formal advertising goes to waste,

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simply because the message is broadcasted to
the wrong audiences.
What are the key moments of
opportunity and what are the key drivers of
engagement?
What should you do to build relevant
relationships with your customers so that they
will engage with you, and share your content to
organically amplify your message?
Enabling each of these behaviors comes down to
supporting and enhancing your customers journey
the journey to purchasing a product or service, as
well as the journey to advocating for your brand or
amplifying your message.
Measuring customer commitment supports you in
taking action to improve your products and service
interactions. It can yield scores and diagnostics
based on product commitment, brand commitment
and customer relevancy associated with a particular
product, service, or brand. It also allows an
organization to pinpoint areas of the journey causing
concern or barriers and provides you with the
actionable insight required to course correct your
marketing, product, and messaging execution.
Ultimately what these efforts are about is a fair
exchange of value between the participants in a
commerce interaction (the organization and the
customer). Organizations want loyal customers who

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share their money generously, and who help
perpetuate brand messages. Customers want new
products and services, but expect that their loyalty is
deserving of respect from the organizations they
choose to engage in. Give them a bad product, or a
bad customer service experience, and these pillars of
loyalty and commitment are weathered away,
sometimes slowly, and sometimes immediately with
a bellow that reverberates throughout their social
sphere.
The customer retains that commitment as long as the business
continues to provide the expected value. But when you stop
meeting the customer's expectations of value, that customer
goes elsewhere.
-

Paul Greenberg on CRM.com

A core component of understanding and predicting


customer commitment is to listen to and analyze the
conversations that are most predictive of customer
behavior and best illustrate the broader participatory
context for shopping, sharing and advocacy. Word of
mouth marketing is one of the most powerful
mechanisms for commerce, and yet it is one of the
most difficult things to exert control over. However if
an organization can create an amazing product or
service, and an amazing experience around the
product or service, then the word of mouth marketing
takes care of itself. Apple is a great example of this
phenomenon in practice loyal customers buy
iPhones or iPads, carry them everywhere, and lots of

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other people see them. But they also, and most
importantly, see how the Apple devotee is
responding to these new technologies and the
delightful user experience that accompanies them.
Its a bit of magic made possible by an organization
that is extremely dedicated to customer experience,
and inventing the most amazing products available
with current technologies. Theyre not perfect, and
they do screw up, but the love of their fans is so
great that the organization continues to thrive.
Part of the problem with learning from Internet
analytics, offline, digital and social data (also known
as Big Data) is the massive amount of it. Its a
challenge to know which parts of shopping,
transaction and sharing/advocacy conversations to
listen to. Not all customers, and not all
conversations, are equally valuable and predictive.
One way to solve this challenge is to collect and
analyze only those conversations that indicate that
someone is on a buying, sharing or advocacy journey
(because thats what you, as a business, care most
about).

The conversations and data that are based

on how a customer is actually behaving, not how


they have suggested they will behave. This is the
difference between observed and stated behavior.
Modeling observed behavior creates more accurate
predictive measures.

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You get the behavior you measure and by extension,
you should understand the journey that your
customers want to take, not the journey that you
want to force them down. And more importantly,
armed with insights and metrics, you know how to
deliver the optimum experience at each point so
keep them on a journey and ultimately drive them to
a commercially valuable behavior whether that is
buying, evangelizing or engaging. James Ainsworth
Facets of customer commitment
Prediction: Analyze the customer journey with
qualitative data and predictive scores that provide an
understanding of the barriers and enablers in the
customer journey to buying, advocacy and sharing.
This involves listening and analyzing (again offline
and online) on an ongoing basis.
Real-Time and Longitudinal: Model
advertising/marketing, transaction and social data to
surface customer challenges and opportunities in
real-time, enabling you to plan and react quickly, and
allowing insights and execution to be aligned with
the rhythm of your business. Customer conversations
are rarely aligned at the same rhythm as that which
the business runs. To make these efforts cohesive
and real-time, predictive measures with appropriate
diagnostics (is it working?) are required.

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Action: Pinpoint both challenges and opportunities
for enhancing the customer experience by applying
scores to specific stages of the customer journey,
suggesting which areas or departments in your
organization you should engage to react. This is
important feedback that lets you know if the
organization is on track relative to your existing or
potential customer base.
Target: Collects and analyzes only those
conversations that are indicative of a key customer
journey, turning the big sales and social dataset
into targeted insights for effective course correction.
Visualize : Analyzes and predicts customer
behavior through data visualizations that are easy-tointerpret and share. Everyone in an organization
should have a dashboard that shows the pulse and
health of the organization relative to its customers.
They should also have the authority on the front line
to make small course corrections that smooth the
passage of the customers experience.
Awareness of Competition: Models your brand
and products against your key competitors to locate
areas of competitive opportunity and highlight your
competitors best practices and answers the
question, how well am I doing against my
competitors? You must know, on a constant basis,
how your products/service, customer service, etc.

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stack up against competitors. Operating in a vacuum
never did anyone any good, and denial of facts will
not change the realities of the marketplace.
Triangulation of Findings: Statistical links
between customer commitment data and scoring
and popular scorecard metrics (CSAT, NPS, NSAT,
etc.) helps stakeholders understand how these
measures move together and impact each other to
enable smarter decision-making. Triangulation also
allows you to take messy bits of data that are hard to
understand (ex. Why customers are engaging in X
behavior at any given point) and validate them with
other bits of data that allow you to see the big
picture more clearly.
Holistic: Build a philosophy and framework for
making data-driven decisions across your enterprise
to enhance key customer experiences in their
individual and social contexts. Realize that your
customers are whole human beings whose identities
extend well beyond the boundaries of simply being
your customer. People dont operate in silos, and
you should not treat them as if they do. Knowing
them as whole people allows you to more fully
anticipate their needs, and to offer them even better,
more relevant solutions in times to come. Then they
will love you for giving them something they didnt
even know they wanted, and will repeatedly come
calling to see what you have for them next.

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Complementary to existing scorecard metrics:


A customer commitment effort can sit alongside and
complement other existing scorecard metrics or KPIs.
Using contextually derived social data allows you to
provide real-time, predictive measures with
appropriate diagnostics. Model and predict customer
behavior for three key customer journeys the
journey to buy your products, advocate for your
brand, and share your content. These are critical
business outcomes that executives care about and
are worth measuring, managing and continuously
enhancing. Insight and execution are rarely aligned
at the same rhythm as that which the business runs,
and awareness of customer commitment markers
can help your business align its efforts more fully to
customer needs.

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Chapter 4: Measuring and Predicting Customer


Commitment and the Customer Journey

Traditional web analytics can be illuminating when it


comes to depicting the machine-centric view of
pages, hits and linkages, but they can also prevent
organizations from deeply understanding individual
customer experiences, especially those that are
deeply rooted in a social context or span offline and
online dimensions. In fact, web analytics data can
mis-direct an organizations efforts: imagine a spike
in traffic coming from, say, Iran. Could your
organization understand and respond to such
movements? Or would you be left scratching your
heads about what might have happened?
In January 2013, a CMO of a large company told me she was
thrilled that her team tweeted 1.2 million times in 2012
surpassing its goal of 1 million. These kinds of ego metrics
website page views, Facebook fans, conference attendees, etc.
look great on a dashboard but dont really move the needle
for the business. I believe we should track outcome metrics, not
activities. For example, instead of asking how conference
attendees rate a session, how about analyzing which sessions
correlated with attendees who later bought something?
Ultimately, the CMO I was talking to decided that a better
metric would be the percentage of non-employee followers who
re-tweeted the companys tweetsa measure that would
provide insight into how the market was amplifying the
companys message. Koen Pauwels

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Social data, mined from myriad online conversations
across newsgroups, forums and social media sites,
uncover the nuances of these interactions, and help
organizations support their communities at any stage
in the journey. While valuable, the social data is just
one piece of the overall puzzle.

Key Performance Indicators


A performance indicator or key performance indicator
(KPI) is a type of performance measurement used by
organizations to evaluate its success or the success
of a particular activity in which it is engaged.

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Sometimes success is defined in terms of making
progress toward strategic goals, but often success is
simply the repeated achievement of some level of
operational goal.
Choosing the right KPIs is reliant upon having a good
understanding of what is important to the
organization. What is important often depends on the
department measuring the performance - the KPIs
useful to finance will be quite different than the KPIs
assigned to sales, for example. Because of the need
to develop a good understanding of what is
important, performance indicator selection is often
closely associated with the use of various techniques
to assess the present state of the business, and its
key activities. These assessments often lead to the
identification of potential improvements; and as a
consequence, performance indicators are routinely
associated with 'performance improvement'
initiatives. A very common way for choosing KPIs is
to apply a management framework such as the
balanced scorecard.
KPIs have traditionally differed by industry. For
example, in medical settings there are many KPIs
used to measure operational efficacy and patient
satisfaction. These include length of stay, number of
visits, waiting time, and satisfactory resolution of
medical issue. In retail settings the KPIs might
include time to delivery, service/support metrics, and

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overall customer satisfaction with both product and
support. In contrast, online media uses metrics like
relevance, engagement and repeat and recent
interaction with content online.
Organizations can develop relevant KPIs by looking
broadly at the business from both operational and
customer points-of-view, but with a specific focus on
which indicators best predict customer commitment
behaviors over the long term. These indicators look
at revenue-driving commitment behaviors like
shopping, advocacy and sharing. In the social context
these KPIs are measured on an ongoing basis
through in-depth social media listening and analysis
using a long-term (longitudinal) data set that tracks
and measures behavior over time.
Such responsive listening and analysis works in
organizations favor in several ways: 1) It enhances
the overall customer experience 2) It drives desired
behaviors like purchasing, sharing and advocacy 3) It
fosters within customer commitment to products and
brand.
Measuring the Customer Journey
Understanding where the aggregate market is on the
customer journey, then extrapolating that knowledge
to the social and individual journey means
companies can ultimately predict how people will

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behave at specific points in the journey. If prediction
is unlikely (sometimes the case with surprise viral
movements) then companies can at least learn how
to respond quickly and effectively. These efforts
involve mapping, measuring and fostering the
customer journey with an eye to individual and social
markers that reflect success in meeting the journey
needs.
These markers can be illuminated through both
quantitative and qualitative efforts. Quantitative
data, like that which resides in web analytics or social
listening metrics, act as sign-posts for movements
and behaviors of interest. For instance, a spike in
website traffic or social media metrics can be
correlated with specific PR, launch or marketing
activities. However to truly understand the rich
complexities of social behavior its imperative to also
track a representative sample of conversations from
a qualitative point of view.
Diving into this goldmine of data gives an
organization an unparalleled birds eye view into the
individual and social minds of existing or target
customers. This highlights the customer journey
because behavior is observed in the very medium
(whichever that happens to be, offline or online)
where interaction occurs, much like observing or
intercepting shoppers in a brick-and-mortar store. As
Marshall McLuhan famously quipped, the message is

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the medium. Organizations should think both about
the message and the social context they place them
in. Brand consistency in this arena is extremely
important for the social business of today and
tomorrow.
In todays hypercompetitive and fast paced business
environment, product innovation and pricing are no longer
sustainable differentiators. Much has been written (and
accepted) about the relative ease for competitors to leapfrog
innovation today, and competing on pricing simply erodes
profitability. However, on the other hand, recent research
studies are increasingly indicating that consumers (as high as
86% of them) are now willing to pay more for a better customer
experience1. The writing is on the wall its time to embrace a
new paradigm of competing. Shane Rai

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Chapter 5: Cultivating Engagement in the


Social Ecosystem
Imagine a lush, thriving garden. Now imagine that
this garden is your organizations current or future
success. Your customers are seeds that can be
furrowed, watered, fertilized and bathed in sunlight.
You and your organizations other employees work to
eliminate weeds and pests (along the journey) in
order to allow your customer to thrive. And once
they themselves thrive? They flower. And flower
some more. Then a busy little bee comes along and
pollenates the plant, so that it can begin to
reproduce offspring like vegetables, as well as more
versions of itself. And the cycle begins again
This is how organizations should look at their
marketplaces, as a potentially rich garden of
possibilities, just needing to be lovingly cultivated.
Then you can rely on Mother Nature to do most of
the hard work for you, just as your customers will
happily relieve you of some of your marketing and
operational burdens via engaged participation, cocreation, and crowd-sourced knowledge and wisdom.
By creating an environment to explore the holistic
customer experience and map responses to the
customer journey, you can accelerate the customer

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to buy your products or services and become an
advocate for your brands. Using social media as a
marketing channel, or engaging in conversation is a
great first step, but becoming truly responsive to and
predictive of your communities is the way to foster
long-term engagement.
In the 21st century, social media networks are your
front line to your most wired communities. Getting to
know those people via comprehensive observation
can help you find opportunities to engage and
enchant [19], in ways youve probably never thought
of. But those people can also be your biggest
advocates and informants, even the critical ones.
Listening and converting (by responding to
questions, requests and concerns) are incredibly
powerful tools in building a community that is
enthusiastic about you. But there are also many
practical benefits, like the ability to provide
quicker/better support, illuminate and educate
potential customers, promote causes and efforts that
are meaningful to you. These are magic tools in the
right hands, but their mastery requires a lot of trial
and error. In this case, the best way to learn is to
jump in. Social media coordinators are great, but
even better if you are the CEO or someone working
on potential products/services. Or better still,
everyone in the company.

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Creating a feedback loop via conversation is the
most effective way to build strong social advocacy
and to make sure your organization is in the right
time and place for whatever needs might arise in the
journey. Make sure your customers know you are
listening, at all times, and they will bring their
problems and hopes to you, all of which are great
opportunities for you to engage with them.
How to be a good citizen online
The Internet is a culture and its citizens are both
clear and vocal about what constitutes authentic and
cooperative behavior online. There are things that
set apart the altruistic contributor (check out this
cool thing!), for instance, from the self-serving ones
(buy my stuff!).
If you do nothing else this year, consider shifting
your social intelligence/media strategy to encompass
increasingly pro-social guidelines. The more you give,
the more the community will give back, but it needs
to be done with a sensitive hand. A reminder: think of
communities as potentially lush gardens to be
cultivated, and your social media activities then have
structure, focus and value. Without a doubt, value is
the currency on the Web, and the more value you
create, the more people will flock to you.

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Ten ways to create maximum information value
with social media:
#1. Make your social media less about them
and more about you.
This is a very counter-intuitive principle, but its an
important one. You can opt to use social media as
tools for yourself, your organizations and your
followers to enhance communication, meme
sharing, bonding, etc. It is okay to promote yourself
or your organization and the things you love, but do
it sensitively and with thought to the value you are
creating for your community. If they are a community
of gut-busting punners, then by all means, pun all
day. But if its a professional community, its best to
be very judicious. Its a good idea to lurk for a while
to get the vibe before you start making contributions
yourself.
Why you should care about Twitter
Our business is knowledge, so managing information
effectively is the thing that keeps the engine running.
Twitters hash tags are super easy and allow us to
expand the potential relevance of a find to much
broader groups of people. Twitter is also great for
creating transparency around internal organizational
dialogue (the positive and potentially public bits)
regarding project themes, methods, etc. Its where

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people flock for real-time data and engagement. Its
also useful for demonstrating how well you know the
space you occupy, just by virtue of knowing whos
who and whats what. This lets you leverage other
peoples contributions and that promotes them and
saves you work.
Why Pinterest is the commerce darling of the
future
Pinterest allows you to unite a bunch of interests in
one place in a visually pleasing way. Exactly like
those scrapbooks of pretty papers, pressed flowers
and ephemera that the ladies used to make and
share. Just the sheer uniformity and quality of images
on Pinterest sets it apart from nearly every other
user generated content spaces we have
encountered. Remember those early MySpace pages
and the love affair with animated GIFs? The Web was
formerly a pretty ugly place. Pinterest applies order
to chaos with elegant results. And, as a boon for
product marketers, the cream does rise, and can
have a price tag associated with it. This is especially
useful to the boutique or niche provider its no good
having the most amazing product on the planet if
people cant find it.
#2. Create orbits

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When you think about your social intelligence
strategy, think of yourself establishing orbits around
things you love and creating magnetism (good
contributions) for others to orbit you. Document your
finds and your learning journey into primers for the
uninitiated. The Web quickly rewards people who
create value and fresh perspectives. Leaving
comments in blogs, tweeting, sharing, etc. are all
pretty low effort ways to establish yourself. Its
important to use a consistent identity, though, and
avoid the flame fests at all costs. Also, let others
orbit you, even if you are the fanciest organization on
the planet. Your fans want to connect with you, and
you should let them. Be transparent, listen, and
allow them to contribute.
#3. Share more
Something we humans have been doing for a very
long time. Online it translates into share, share,
share, and share some more. But make sure that
what youre sharing is relevant to your audience.
Your childhood friends (Facebook, most likely) care
about adorable videos of your children your Linked
In colleagues? Not so much. But LinkedIn can be a
great vehicle for establishing credibility and klout
quickly in a space. You can ask questions or answer
them, post useful updates, comment in groups,
create your own groups, build ads, etc. Your
message can be proliferated, but the business nature

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of the platform allows you to keep your messages
relevant, and targeting the right audiences.
#4. Join the social network nirvana
There are a couple of best kept secrets in the social
media verse and Quora is one of them. Its certainly
not everyones thing, but for curious generalists its
Nirvana. The quality of contributions tends to be very
good, there is a Be Nice policy, and a real names
only policy, and moderators who occasionally step on
toes. But something about it seems to work, in the
creating-order-from-chaos kind of way.
Information chaos is one of our biggest challenges
and having a place where you know the cream rises
can be very handy. Its also the place where you can
ask literally ANY question and expect a reasonable
response from VERY knowledgeable people.
#5. Engage
Internet people crave opportunities to engage.
Everyone loves rewards and acknowledgment. We
should be thinking more about how to reward people
for their contributions online and off, both tangibly
and intangibly. Pinterest contests get people pinning
your content. A $40 gift card can go a LONG way in
motivating semi-volunteer content developers and
community managers. And it goes a long way

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towards letting them know how much you appreciate
them.
#6. Leverage yourself
Think about how to inter-connect your social media
outlets and efforts. Facebook, Twitter, Quora and
Linked In all offer easy integration with each other,
and there are many widgets available such as widget
box, that allow you to embed your real-time streams
into other locations. This is great because it keeps
your content fresh, without having to do a bunch
more work each and every day. Top of mind
presence is very useful for the enthusiastic
organization, but frankly, people dont want to hear
each and every day what new thing you have to sell
them. This requires a gentler and more savvy hand:
share content and ideas that proffer the broader
context for your product offering, and let people
connect the dots to what they can buy from you in
support of those visions.
#7. Aggregate your social streams
If you are one of those people or organizations who is
heavy into social media, there is a whole crop of
tools that make stream management so much
easier. About.me lets you aggregate your streams in
one place for easy viewing (by you or others). Some

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are focused more on publishing (TweetDeck), others
on analytics and other influence/reach metrics.
#8. Dont get too attached to any one technology
platform.
Its pretty likely we have no idea what the Facebookequivalent social media site will be in say, 2020. Our
excitement these last few years is that many of the
tools have also allowed a range of social phenomena
we have really never seen before.
One of the lovely things about humans is that we will
adapt a new tool to many anticipated and
unanticipated outcomes. Early movers (celebrity
tweet auctions, etc.) can sometimes find a massive
advantage with one clever idea. Things occasionally
go viral and enchant millions. This is a level of reach
and connectedness we have never known. Politicians
out regular emails and Lady Gaga posts Facebook
messages telling her community what TV she is
watching.
Whats incredible about social media is what they
enable in our culture, not whether its called
Facebook or Twitter. Just because you have a
hammer, it doesnt make everything else nails and
thinking it does will limit you from acting nimbly on
new opportunities. That said, do take advantage of

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the platforms, just dont put all of your eggs in one
small basket.
#9. Some industries particularly suit social media
Certain industries really benefit from social media
and are natural innovators as a result. If youre
looking for ideas, check out sectors like food &
beverage, travel and video games anything with a
passionate following that can be leveraged into a
vibrant and self-sustaining community.
#10. Make social media your front line
As previously mentioned, social media networks are
your front line to your most wired communities.
Getting to know those people via comprehensive
observation can help you find opportunities to
engage and enchant, in ways youve probably never
thought of. But those people can also be your biggest
advocates and informants, even the grouchy ones.
Listening and converting (by responding to
questions, requests and concerns) are incredibly
powerful tools in building a community that is
enthusiastic about you. But there are also many
practical benefits, like the ability to provide
quicker/better support, educate potential customers,
celebrate successes, and promote causes and efforts
that are meaningful to you. These are magic tools in
the right hands, but their mastery requires a lot of

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trial and error. In this case, the best way to learn is to
jump in.
Many real life empires rest on social intelligence and
media these days. But instead of merely thinking
about the next great sales and marketing channel,
try thinking about the people whose information and
delivery needs you serve, and win by serving them
better and better, a bit every day.
Chapter 6: Architecting a Customer-centric
Business

A strange aspect of capitalism is business as usual in


our world: organizations and customers who are
frequently at odds with one another, and
organizations who rely on marketing trickery to eek
out every last cent from their unsuspecting
constituencies. Some organizations are openly
hostile to their customers, like this Microsoft Xbox
employee who tweets his displeasure with
complaining customers, adding a hash tag that says
deal with it. He is no longer with the company, as
Microsoft rightly realized this kind of transparent
behavior is at odds with its core values. Treating
customers with contempt is both unacceptable and
too easily proliferated. Such incidents resonate
deeply with customers, and can affect your brand in
exponential ways.

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Business tomes are full of advice that runs counter to


customer desires, like this article that claims that
customer service should never apologize:
http://needlemeethaystack.com/2010/02/22/helpbetter/
Imagine instead a world in which organizations and
customers co-create commerce structures that are
win-win for everyone. Where respect, transparency
and responsiveness are written into mission
statements everywhere. Businesses that eschew
competition in favor of communication, cooperation
and collaboration, with partners in extended
networks, and with the customers that sustain them.
Steps to architecting a social business:
1. Embrace co-creation, ecosystems,
crowd-sourcing and participation
2. Leverage customer participation
and influencer communities, but make no
assumptions about influence:

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3. Innovate constantly, from the top


of the organization to the front lines:
Innovation Starts with the Customer: If
successful innovations must address an
urgent human need, then the front-end of
the innovation process should be situated at
the point of contact with the humans
expressing that need, i.e. the sales and
customer service people in businesses, not
the R&D laboratory or the marketing
department. Dave Pollard
4. Think of organization/customer
networks as team sports, minus aggressive
competition:
1 http://socialmediatoday.com/rohnjaymiller/1351481/socialbehavior-not-influencers

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http://www.ted.com/talks/eric_dishman_health_
care_should_be_a_team_sport.html
5. Promote honesty and transparency
http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2013/apr/1
0/hp-autonomy-deal-meg-whitman
6. Challenge and release business
dogmas with bravery do whats right for
YOUR business, not other peoples:
7. Respect and adore your
communities
8. Rinse and repeat

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"I look at community creation as a labor of assisted
self-discovery the community you wish to create
already exists, but the members just don't know it
yet." Jeff Hora (http://www.cmswire.com/cms/socialbusiness/3-logjams-to-overcome-for-communities020429.php)
The markers of a social business:
1. Nimble, flexible, responsive to market
and customer trends and transformations.
2. Listening (to customer input, from
service/support calls to conversations in social
media) with compassion and intent to resolve
each and every customer issue on an individual
basis.
3. Inclusive of customers and transparent
about opportunities and challenges. Takes
advice and complaints on board and shows the
world their ongoing willingness to change.
4. Tolerant of diversity and creativity, both
internally and among the customer base.
Diversity is a major component of innovation,
and rapid, constant innovation is where its at
in the 21st century. [22]
5. Hires well, supports employees with pay
and benefits, rewards performance with

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authority. Allow your front-line employees
flexibility to address individual customer needs,
eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy and hoopjumping in your processes. Keep employees
happy, as happy employees foster happy
customers, and vice versa.
6. Fosters a spirit of cooperation,
collaboration and positive communication with
customers and partners in business.
7. Reward partners and customers who are
especially cooperative, and guarantee their
ongoing participation in co-creation efforts.
8. Leverage technology and social media to
create a rich information network that operates
both internally and externally.
9. Thinks of the organization as a node in a
global eco-system. It should allow people in.
Shares information as much as possible.
Doesnt keep secrets that customers or pundits
would not like (Monsanto, listen up).
10.

Understands that the medium is

the message: if you want to be a vibrant,


future-forward business, you must also shift
your culture to be increasingly social and utilize
a range of social tools to reach your audiences

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where they are already conversing and
interacting.
These tips should be implemented from the C-levels
through the organization. Executives and front-line
employees can both benefit from listening to existing
and potential customers. The social business is a
type of organization that respects and appreciates its
customers. Theyre not enemies, not even the
prickly ones; those people can be converted to
evangelists, because they are frequently incredibly
passionate about your products/services and their
potential.

Figure 7 Twitter conversation from an angry business owner


regarding complaining customers.

The social business is likely to be a strong model for


organizational growth in the future, and innovative
organizations will roll with trends in the marketplace
in order to play a highly visible role. The amazing
thing is that so many of the socially viral movements

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require few resources and minimal effort on the part
of the organizations. Co-creating customers will do a
lot of the work for you, if you'll let them. Win-win for
everyone.
Listening is an act of love. Warren Sukernek

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Robson, E., Mathematical Cuneiform Tablets in
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Adshead, S.A.M., Salt and civilization. 1992: St.
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Watson, T.J., Colonialism in the Congo: Conquest,
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Levine, R., C. Locke, and D. Searls, The cluetrain
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Sivulka, J., Soap, sex, and cigarettes: A cultural
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Jenkins, H., Convergence culture: Where old and
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Shirky, C., Here Comes Everybody: How change
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Cruickshank, P., Customer journey mapping. Smart
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Lecinksi, J., Winning the zero moment of truth.
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