Thursday, June 18, 2009

1 800 Customer Care Numbers? Consider it a Thing of the Past. Enter Social Media and the World Wide Web.

Ravit Lichtenberg from wrote on Read Write Web about corporations and the five "Must Haves" they need to create a solid online presence.

A lot of companies have jumped on the online marketing and advertising bandwagon (which they should) but have not used all the web's abilities to their utmost capacity. The ability to interact and create strong relationships with customers online is readily becoming the norm. Clients expect to be able to contact a company instantly with problems, concerns, ideas, etc. As I've mentioned before, your audience is in control.

She mentions some perfect examples of how companies are taking social media and using it to their benefit, such as BurgerKing's WhopperSacrifice on Facebook, where consumers can trade in 10 of their friends for the love of the Whopper. The application has recently been disabled since the love of the Whopper was confirmed after 233,906 friends were sacrificed. I'm sure we'll see much more from BurgerKing and others in this arena since it was so successful.

Another example she mentions is Starbucks' My Starbucks Idea campaign, which prompts consumers to share their ideas directly with the company, as well as interact with each other and vote on other people's ideas.

Lichtenberg says there are five fundamental requirements for corporations embarking on the online customer relationship forum. Here's the cliffnotes:

  1. Be a Panther, Not a Dinosaur - corporations must be flexible and commit to customer's needs and wants

  2. Evolve Your Organizational Culture and Structure - align internal culture with customer's culture

  3. Understand that Loyalty Is Key to Revenue - rely more on customer loyalty that charging inane fees

  4. Bring in the Right People - bring in people with solid, "in the trenches" experience

  5. Have a Strategy! - set goals, develop a plan and budget

To sum it all up, Ravit says "for corporations to remain competitive, they will need to become more flexible, put people at the center of their culture, and remain dynamically attentive to human needs. It is time again to realize that change should be embraced, not feared, and to put in place the right structures, strategies, and people to support this change."

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