Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Putting the Customer at the Centre of Everything

Earlier this week I discussed organisational fear, highlighting the reasons why concerns of what could happen when engaging with the customer should not dictate the organisation's social media engagement strategy. Unfortunately, many organisation's continue to fall into this trap, citing unpredictability as the central logic behind removing the customer's capacity to talk back. Interestingly, these organisations continue to believe that they are in control of their own destiny; they don't seem to realise that power rests firmly in the hands of their customer.

I Have the Power!
As has oft been cited in the blogosphere, the online community has the capacity to make or break a brand; a power which they are often all too happy to call upon should it be deemed that the company is not acting in the best interests of its customers. The organisation on the other hand has little to no direct control over the online customer perceptions of the brand; particularly when concerns such as those described above deter the recognition of a social media engagement strategy in its entirety. Whilst careful efforts to influence these perceptions can be made, opinions stemming from the blogosphere are likely to be more readily recieved by the online community.

Customer Action and the Social Media
The best strategy for minimising the wrath of the online community is to ensure that your organisation places the customer at the centre of everything. Every decision that the business makes should only be implemented following consideration of the potential implications of the resultant actions upon the customer. Hardly surprising really. By ensuring that every action is specifically designed to satisfy the needs of the customer, the likelihood of the negative content appearing online is reduced. Whilst the facilitating capacities afforded by the social media have undeniably enhanced the likelihood of negative content appearing on line, appropriately engaging with the customer will almost certainly cause the consumer's propensity to engage in negative content generation to diminish. And hey, by having a social media, the customer may feel more inclined to address their concerns directly with you before taking these qualms elsewhere.

The Customer Revolution
Is this revolutionary thinking within your organisation? I certainly hope not. Although business practices have become somewhat distracted in recent years, the importance of placing the customer at the centre of everything is nothing new. Whilst said practices have traditionally favoured the position of the organisation over that of the customer, the abilities afforded to the consumer by the Internet have resulted in a radical power shift. Now the actions of a single consumer can dramatically effect the successes of organisations of all sizes.

Make sure that your organisation recognises the importance of putting the customer at the centre of everything. If you continue to rely on outdated business practices, the community will react. This reaction will almost certainly be negative. Help to avoid the creation of negative content by engaging with your customer.

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