In Chapter 8, “Engagement on the Social Web,” and Chapter 9, “Social CRM,” I show how the basic principle of incorporating the customer directly into the marketing process extends throughout the product lifecycle. In this opening chapter, I focus only on the supporting concepts and techniques by which you can build these principles now into your business processes.
For example, encouraging participation in discussion forums, or helping your customers publish and rate product or service reviews can help you build business, and it can put in place the best practices you’ll need to succeed in the future. Social business includes product design, pricing, options, customer service, warranty, and the renewal/re-subscription process and more.
All told, social business is an organization-wide look at the interactions and dependencies between customers and businesses connected by information-rich and very much discoverable conversations. So what is it that gets talked about, and why does it matter? Simply put, anything that catches a consumer or prospective customer’s attention is fair game for conversation. It may happen between three people or three million.
This includes expectations exceeded as well as expectations not met, and runs the gamut from what appears to be minutiae (“My bus seems really slow today…”) to what is more obviously significant (“My laptop is literally on fire…right now!”). How do these relate to business? The bus company, monitoring Twitter, might tweet back “Which bus are you riding on right now?” and at the least let its rider know that it noticed the issue.
At most, it might discover a routing problem and improve its service generally. As for the laptop on fire, if I were the brand manager and it were my product line, I’d want to know about this as soon as possible and by whatever means. That most certainly includes Twitter. News travels fast, and nowhere does it travel faster than the Social Web. In his 2009 Wired article “Twitter-Yahoo Mashup Yields Better Breaking News Search,” writer Scott Gilbertson put it this way: “
Whenever there’s breaking news, savvy web users turn to Twitter for the first hints of what might be going on.” What’s important in a business context is this: In both the bus schedule and laptop fire examples, the person offering the information is probably carrying a social-technology-capable, Internetconnected mobile phone. It is very likely that Twitter or a similar mobile service is also this person’s first line of communication about any particular product or service experience!