Before going into the details of the interview – lets meet the lady behind the words. Becky brings a wealth of talent from her past on present experience to the world of social. Currently she is the Community Manager for Verizon, where she develops the social media strategy for the community, forums, and blogs. But she has many string to her bow – on top of this (as if it was not enough…) – she Lectures at US San Diego, is the Social Media Correspondent for NBC San Diego and has just written a hit book – The Hidden Power of Your Customers. The book celebrates the ‘customers rock!’ attitude which is all about customer centricity and realizing that customers represent valuable company assets.
First of all Becky – congrats on the new book! Could give me a some more information on your background and experience?
Thank you! My background spans more than 24 years in business, both on the client side, where I worked for over 13 years at HP as well as with companies such as Verizon, as well as on the consulting side, where I have worked with both large and small clients including HP, Ford, and Electronic Arts (EA). My focus areas include marketing, customer loyalty, customer service and experience, and social media.
I am also the Social Media Contributor for NBC-TV here in San Diego on their morning show and teach social media at the University of California, San Diego.
How did this lead you to writing The Hidden Power of Your Customers then?
I honed my thinking around the concepts for The Hidden Power of Your Customers through my Customers Rock! blog, which I started in 2006. From my time working in companies on customer loyalty as well as through my time as a consultant, I have seen the result of a company focus on only acquiring new customers: current customers feel unappreciated and become disgruntled. Those companies who believe their customers rock, and run their entire business according to that principle, are those that will most easily pull through difficult economic times – with the help of their customer advocates.
What is most critical about growing your business through the power of your customers?
There are four keys to unlocking the hidden power of your customers to grow your business. They spell the acronym ROCK and are as follows:
R: Relevant Marketing – Market the way a customer wants to see it, based on their needs and preferences (not your company’s).
O: Orchestrated Customer Experience – See things from the customer’s perspective, ensuring each interaction adds to the brand equity you have with each customer.
C: Customer-Focused Culture – Create a culture of customer service, supported by leadership, metrics, and the employee experience.
K: Killer Customer Service – Take customer service to the next level and create positive, memorable stories that customers want to share virally.
The focus throughout these four keys is your existing customers. Have you created a strategy to specifically retain and grow their business with you? It must be deliberate; customer retention, upsell, cross-sell and advocacy do not happen by chance. They also do not happen just by what is often “random acts of customer service”. These types of actions just don’t stick in the long run.
So how much importance, in your view, does social media play in customer service?
The combination of social media and mobile devices have produced the perfect storm for frustrated customers, making social media in customer service more critical than ever for companies large and small. It has become imperative for companies to listen constantly, and beyond their normal channels, to learn of any customer service issues. Those that don’t will quickly fall behind.
But listening isn’t enough; companies need to take action on what they hear and do it in such as way that it is scalable and ties into the overall social media presence of the business – while keeping the customer needs front and center of the conversation. Even the way that customer service is measured needs to be updated due to expectations of the new social customer. And all this is true whether or not a company has decided to engage in social customer service.
So if it is so important why are businesses still struggling to get to grips with this?
Many companies still have the myopic view that getting new customers is the most important thing they can do in their business, so much that they have completely forgotten about their existing customers (unless there is a bill to send or they contact the company with a complaint). The drive for short-term sales outweighs the profitability of the long-term customer relationship. A company’s actions towards their customers via social media usually follows suit.
Finally, a shameless plug, what do you think of the upcoming summit Social Media for Customer Service in NY this fall?
I am excited to come to NY this fall and share about what has worked in my corporate experience with Verizon, as well as learn from so many smart corporate social media/customer service practitioners. After attending the San Francisco Corporate Summit a few months ago, it is fair to say that I am anticipating a very worthwhile event!
Thanks to Becky for her time!
Interview by Harry Rollason
Harry Rollasson works at usefulsocialmedia.com, check them out for great social media resources and events.