Solving the Conundrum of Social (Media) as Your Center

The mere fact of social media is that it’s a network of networks connecting people from all walks of man from every corner of the globe.  Social, by definition, is not central nor is it singular.  It lives and breathes as an amorphous, changing set of content, contributors, and connections.  And, yet, for smart businesses, deploying a social strategy can create a singular view of their consumers.

But, getting to that “center” is the rub, and one that many companies struggle to identify and adopt.

What is a customer central approach?  Simply, it’s the aggregated, correlated, synthesized set of information on who buys your products, what motivates them to buy, and what they want to know about.  The customer center defines who they are, and how to best engage with them, and where they want you to engage.  The customer center is not easily identified and that’s because it comes from a variety of sources – from current data stores, to information gathered on your current ecommerce or customer care systems, to social media.  A customer center is the amalgamation of the outside in with the inside out.  Each source captures different information, and stores it differently.  Most businesses today don’t have a strategy in place to weave a ‘steel thread’ through these systems to create that customer core.  Instead, they are owned by different internal stakeholders (marketing, customer service, accounting) which means they are not leveraged in a holistic strategy.

And, if you’ve looked closely the customer core isn’t even that.  It’s the epitome of a finely tuned data analytics architecture, tapping into the information where it resides.  In other words, the core doesn’t exist.  But, what does exist is the tagged, aggregated, synthesized, analyzed set of information that informs executives, real time on who they serve and what they need.

And, so, if you wondered who cares?  According to the CapGemini World Insurance Report (WIR) With Generation Y (those who are currently 18-34), social media is core to their expectations for engaging with business.  And, unfortunately, “despite efforts by insurers to meet the increasing demands of their customers, positive customer experience ratings globally dropped 3.7 percentage points from an already low 32.6 percent in 2013 to 28.9 percent in 2014.”

What does a customer central approach do for a company?  For those of us older than Generation Y, we can remember calling in to our phone company or insurance company,  to learn about their products.  They didn’t know who we were (Did my phone company know I just bought a house?  Did my insurance company know I just had a baby?), and could only read us the script of what they had, without any insight to our buying preferences or life changes.  Their customer ‘tunnel vision’ meant that the onus was on the consumer to figure out what the provider was really offering, and if it made sense.  The provider could just pitch their services and hope that I would buy.  With a customer central approach, they could have better insight to the fact that I always shut off my HBO trial period at the end of the 3 months; that I’m always tweeting about the recent Netflix episode; and that while I use a mobile phone to tweet, I don’t have service with them.  The coupling of these three very discreet data points could allow them to pinpoint how to best serve me.  The core comes from not from creating a singular system or data set.  The core comes from knowing me and my behaviors best, and creating a core that is central to me.  Then, maybe I wont cancel my HBO anymore.



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