Using Enterprise Social Networks to engage customers

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socialeffect social business strategy

Have you considered what an enterprise social network could do to enhance your level of engagement with your customers?

How do your customers interact with your sales and support staff or with other customers on issues relating to their use of your product or service?

How do you represent your customers interests within the broader industry you operate in and then let them know about it?

Do you enlist the support of your customers to speed up your internal processes for taking innovations to the market?

Are your customers actively participating in your projects concerning them?

Have you considered applying social business principles to find a new way to work with customers?

Social business is appealing to a significant number of today’s organisations because it offers a means of engaging with customers via a level of transparency that leads to win win outcomes for you and them.

Let’s start with customer support. Traditional methods rely heavily on large teams of customer service personnel manning customer service centres, attempting to handle support calls and triage effectively. Social business allows a bigger audience to be involved, for example other customers and other personnel from outside of the service centre. Organisations have deep knowledge of their particular product or service but most often this knowledge is not freely available to assist customers because they do not have visibility of customer problems, queries or issues. An enterprise social network provides the vehicle to ensure the broadest possible skills across the organisation can have access to what customers are thinking, how they are using your product or service and where they may need assistance.

Similarly by opening up the support mechanism to all customers, the opportunity exists for customers to help each other. There are a number of very clear benefits to this approach – reduced service costs, faster answers, immediate challenges to priority lists for fixes and improved customer satisfaction.

You play an important role in your industry sector and you need a way to let your customers know about the work you do. Deploying a social business framework that is extended to your customers is a natural fit. You can start conversations about the industry in general, publish important references, be outspoken and provide leading insights which may be important to customers. A social business platform allows customers to challenge your views, but to also support them and when necessary collaborate to bring about positive change for the industry at large.

How often have you taken innovations to the market only to have your customers reject them because they don’t represent their view of what they need? Utilising a social business approach means you can involve them in your R and D process using a crowd sourcing method. Crowd sourcing with an identified, interested and attached audience brings powerful use case scenarios to your ideas list, which can then be moved to innovations. Many of the leading social business software vendors such as Jive Software, MangoApps, tibbr support the concept of Ideation, which in effect is a precursor process to identifying improvements that could be turned into innovative outcomes. Extending your social business platform to customers means they have the opportunity to work closely with you on things that will benefit them.

If your business is one in which customer projects are regularly created, internal teams gathered and customer representatives enlisted, social business may be a tool you can’t or shouldn’t live without. A huge problem with customer projects is keeping all members of the project team appraised of what is happening when, but perhaps more importantly ensuring that all project artefacts, such as documents, drawings, schedules, images, etc are available and up to date from the one content repository. A social business framework allows customers and your project team members to collaborate on aspects of the project as required and in real time, enabling quicker and better project decisions.

Take the time to evaluate why social business can make a difference to your projects, in addition to the benefits it can bring to other parts of your business. If you need advice on where to start feel free to contact me.

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