In a recent guest post about the intersection of customer service and marketing I realized this:
There are two questions every business should be asking:
#1 – How will digital change or even eliminate proven business practices?
#2 – How soon could that happen – and what then?
The premise of the aforementioned article was that these days customer service is designed to create favorable customer experiences, even before prospective buyers become customers. This makes it a new form of marketing.
Conversely, content marketing that helps customers throughout their entire experience with the business serves a customer service role.
Just studying the intersection of these two disciplines helps one realize how the influence of digital and social media are disrupting nearly every aspect of business. Thus, it would be advantageous to discern that disruption before it happens to be ready for it.
There are probably a number of ways to approach this, but the most reliable is probably starting with a reevaluation of what your customers want, as compared to what your business and the rest of your industry are giving them now.
What Do Your Customers Really Want?
Customer service used to be sitting back and waiting for customers to complain, and then responding to hopefully deliver an amicable resolution. Today customer service is being ahead of the customer, anticipating their needs.
You can ask customers what they want, but they may not be able to tell you without knowing the full extent of your capabilities, or that you would be willing to give it to them.
I’m not sure how Amazon came up with Amazon Prime (charging one flat annual fee to then provide free shipping within 48 hours), but I absolutely love it. Many customers like me hate to shop, and so the easier you can make the experience the more readily you will earn our loyalty.
If you were your customer would you buy from you? How would you like to buy? These are good questions to ask your team, as well as your customer.
What would your customers want if they knew they could get it?
Amazon Prime is just one example. Free shipping by Zappos is another. Words like easier, faster, and risk-free come to mind. Of course, don’t forget cooler, fun, and personal.
If it isn’t being done and it’s a cool idea, you can bet it will disrupt your industry if you can be the first to do it.
Content, Social, and Digital are Disruptive Forces
Who would have known in the early days of blogging that content marketing would become a mainstream force?
Next week I’m off to Content Marketing World to learn more about the state of content marketing for businesses both small and large. One thing is certain; content marketing is now an essential business practice.
Social media continues to impact business by giving consumers a voice for getting what they want. Smart businesses are monitoring those conversations. You may or may not like hashtags, but they are here to stay and amazingly powerful for listening and learning what your customers want, as well as what your competitors are thinking.
More than anything, our increased connectivity, especially via mobile devices, is sure to disrupt nearly every aspect of our business operations. Connectivity and mobile give easier access to all kinds of information, which surely means there will be an expectation for businesses to better create, organize, and protect it, especially if you are in the information business.
How about if your business is a mainstream, brick n mortar store? With customers being better educated and informed, will that require adapting your selling process to it?
There is no question the lines between sales, marketing, and customer service are blurring, and content, social, and digital media are largely responsible for this. It’s amazing to think of a world where every business is now a media company.
Get ready for a world in which every customer is now his or her own brand. It’s going to be both exciting – and disruptive.
Is your business ready?
Jeff is also the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business – (Wiley 2013)