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Getting customers to ‘like' you on social media

| Updated on November 15, 2017 Published on May 20, 2012

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By understanding the forces underlying social networking, organisations can connect effectively with both current and future customers.

Social media is emerging as the platform that will decide many of the winners of tomorrow's connected enterprise. In the area of financial services, initial initiatives saw banks seeking customer opinion on bank products and services. Later, it evolved into a proactive role of responding quickly to customer feedback. Today, the needs and uses are clearly left to the imagination of the most fertile mind, as organisations the world over work overtime to develop the ‘Connected Customer Strategy'.

Organisations will have to develop an interaction strategy that can address the needs of a diverse set of customers with individual preferences and demands. By understanding the forces underlying social networking, organisations can connect effectively with both current and future customers. This will require each organisation to invest in effective channel, data and analytics capabilities to help it understand the new ways in which customers are choosing to interact.

Tools exist which allow firms to tap into the online data of their most valuable customers and build rich customer profiles that can be used to improve service and act as inputs for product design.

Organisations are choosing to experiment in various ways. Some are investing in apps to connect directly with customers. The next generation of apps are moving from being merely informative to providing interactive capabilities. Starbucks, for example, is allowing customers to select and order their favourite drinks in advance. PVR not only provides information on current and future movies, but also allows customers to buy tickets at a theatre nearest to their published location. Banks increasingly offer customers the ability to find ATMs and branches nearest to their location — all using their connected devices.

Retailers are merging experiences between the digital and physical channels. Clinique is using an in-store iPad app to supplement the sales associate. Its iPad Skin Diagnostic Tool offers customers comprehensive advice and information on its products. The company reported nearly 30 per cent sales increase as a result of this app.

Luxury brands seem to have hit upon an effective way to connect with their exclusive clientele. Louis Vuitton, Prada and Salvatore Ferragamo are using online auction sites to sell off excess inventory rather than having in-store markdown sales. This is helping them maximise profitability by capturing the consumer's willingness to pay. Having apps that help customers receive information on sales and loyalty offers can help brands leverage their online investment while positively enhancing customer experience.

The always connected “tweets” or “wall posts” or “profile updates” tell a lot about the customer and his/her preferences — from choice of products, demographic, political and social underpinnings, location, and marital status to taste in music, books, cars, vacations, food and so on.

Be it on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin or Pinterest, for a social anthropologist the abundance of rich data allows profiling customers with a level of detail that would have been unthinkable even a couple of years ago. The availability of advanced analytics, abundant compute power and cheap storage, advanced search and scanning capabilities allow organisations to offer truly customised services and products. Successful organisations can now take customer delight and satisfaction to new levels provided their underlying operating models can keep pace.

Lastly, as organisations craft their ‘Connected Customer Strategies', they will have to look beyond FourSquare to understand and leverage the full impact of location-based apps. A new wave of startups, including Highlight, Zaarly, TaskRabbit and Localmind, drawing on smartphone location data, will deliver a range of social, commercial and informational experiences.

As a Customer Experience Officer, one will have to address the diverse needs of employees and customers, even while preserving the trust and security they have come to expect from the organisation.

Sunny Banerjea is Partner, KPMG

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Published on May 20, 2012
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