Maturing Social Media Initiatives

Forrester’s book Groundswell made the power of social media tangible with real-world examples and laid out a framework to help onboard organizations. However, many companies today still struggle to benchmark their social media journey, manage bottom-up social activities, and prove the ROI of social media activities. The new chapters published in the just-released expanded and revised edition of Groundswell highlight some best practices. Here are some of them:

  • Understand why you are embarking on the social journey, and connect social media objectives to the company strategy. Ask hard questions like “Will my social presence help move the customer satisfaction needle?”, “Will it help sell more products?”, and “Will it deflect costs from my service center?”.
  • Treat social media as another channel in which to engage customers. Customers still want to call you (a surprising 67% of the time), email you, and chat with you. Make sure that your processes, policies, and communicated information are the same across all channels — traditional and social.
  • Connect your social media efforts. There may be many social media technologies used within your company. Ensure that there is some level of coordination between internal organizations so that you can uphold a consistent experience and brand for your customers.
  • Start small and staff social media initiatives with existing employees who understand your customers and your business. This is important to help extend your brand — your DNA — to your social channels.
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Danger! Be Careful Of Using Social Media As An Escalation Strategy

There are a lot of vendors pitching their social media listening capabilities. And, the more that I hear these pitches, the more it has made me think that a bunch of companies jumping on the social media bandwagon are going down a dangerous road of using it as a customer service escalation strategy — which is a horrible idea.

Let me illustrate with a recent story I heard. A woman discovered that the VIN number of her car was improperly recorded on her last visit to the California DMV. As she tried to get it fixed, she found out it was going to require a lot more effort than she hoped (perhaps it included a visit back to a local office). She tweeted about it. Remarkably: The California DMV was listening!! It tweeted her back, contacted her, and helped her resolve the issue in a fraction of the time and energy it would have taken. The result: a happy customer.

There are a couple of strange things about this story. First, the DMV can’t fix its long waits and broken processes, but it has people listening to Twitter. Hmm. Second, it rewarded someone who complained to the entire world about its broken process. The next time I want a quick fix to a problem I have with the DMV, remind me to tweet about it! 

Congratulations to companies that can respond to the relatively few tweets they get via this channel today. Are you prepared to scale this operation as you re-enforce people to get service from you this way? More importantly, is that really the venue in which you want to solve problems?

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Why Don’t CxPi and Website Scores Match Up?

A client recently asked me about an apparent discrepancy in two of my Forrester reports. The first was a report I co-authored with Megan Burns detailing the changes in Customer Experience Index (CxPi) scores among health insurers. This report showed, among other things, that Humana’s CxPi score dropped by 10 points from 2010 to 2011. My more recent report, "Best And Worst Of Website User Experience, 2011: Health Insurers," shows that Humana improved its online public site experience significantly from 2010 to 2011. How could this be?

There are two main reasons why these two data points are not in conflict with each other. The first is that the site we reviewed was Humana’s public site. People who visit this site do not necessarily join a Humana plan and only comprise a fraction of the total Humana customers captured in the CxPi. Humana’s membership comes from a variety of sources, including employers and the military. None of those members would use the public quoting capability, which makes up most of the experience we tested. So members who do join Humana via the public site experience would ultimately be dwarfed statistically by those who didn’t.

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Register For Forrester’s Upcoming Jam Session “Application Delivery’s Role In Customer And Business Empowerment”

Please join us on Monday, June 13, at 11.00 a.m. EDT for part one of our Customer Empowerment Jam Sessions, "Application Delivery’s Role In Customer And Business Empowerment."

To succeed in today’s turbulent business environment, enterprises must drive deeper customer engagement - connecting empowered customers to the valuable services they want, across multiple touchpoints. This crucial shift to an outside-in focus, however, brings new demands and challenges to the application development & delivery organization.

During our upcoming Teleconference, we’ll discuss:

  • How application delivery should partner with marketing to drive deeper customer engagement through the entire life cycle, across multiple touchpoints.
  • Best practices for application development to design and deliver improved customer experiences.
  • How to reconcile the need for stronger design with agile processes and continuous delivery.
  • How to optimize your mobile application strategy to serve empowered customers.
  • How to exploit emerging application platforms, including cloud, to empower customers and the business to enable rapid change.
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