While becoming a social business is much less expensive than most companies realize, it does take time and resources. A fair question is, what’s in it for me? Or in this case, what is in it for the company?
Ed Brill is a Director of Social Business at IBM. He says that the value of transitioning to a social business versus a traditional business come from three areas: Engagement, Transparency, and Agility
Benefits of Engagement
With increased conversations between a company’s employees and the customers, a great level of content is generated. Both by the interaction, but engaged customers are more likely to have a positive feeling about the brand and in turn are more apt to write positive comments and reviews. Prospects doing research on your company or product are significantly more likely to click first on content generated by a human.
Benefits include: Shortened sales cycle and positive brand sentiment.
Benefits of Transparency
Seemingly thoughtless product or a company policy change that erupts into full-scale customer revolt is an all too common occurrence. Usually, these could have been minimized or even prevented if the company had explained the thinking and facts of why the company was about to make a change prior to taking action. In the absence of information frustrated customers will create their own narrative. Often a narrative that puts the company in the worst possible light.Admitting that an experiment didn’t work out, or that the company was forced between two tough choices may not always win you fans, but people who have all the facts are much more likely to be understanding.
Benefits include: Building confidence in the company’s management and trust in what it says.
Benefits of Agile
Traditionally companies went away for months or even years to make their best educated guess as to what the customer wanted next. They brought the new product back, threw it over the wall and waited for the wolves to gather…if they had guessed right.
A social business can have a on-going conversation directly with their customers about their needs and how they can best serve them. The discussion is iteratively about changes in the product, and now the product can quickly adapt to an ever changing customer and their needs.
However, the benefits go beyond just products and into the customer relationship. It’s not about responding to every customer’s whim, but making smart, evolving changes that track with the market.
Benefits include: Keeping a real-time feedback loop that allows intelligent decision making, and stays ahead of competition that’s slow or reluctant to evolve.