Why Customer Engagement will be a necessity

Phil Windley recently authored a post called The Customer Is In Charge, describing with an example the trend toward greater customer power and influence due to Web 2.0 capabilities.

The example about which Phil wrote was an interesting incident involving T-Mobile and David Berlind at ZDNet’s Between the Lines blog. This is a case where a person with a wide audience for his blog on the Web encountered some poor customer service, and decided to report on it. What’s more, David recorded his support call, and attached it as a podcast, so there is no doubt about the situation.

The impact of this one incident is manifold for T-Mobile. First, it highlights poor customer service, and leaves a negative impression on the comapny in this regard, regardless of its standard in this area. Second, the readership of this posting and its echos across the blogosphere and overall Web will give otherwise likely customers pause for concern before purchasing a T-Mobile hotspot.

T-Mobile needs to be listening on the Web for these opportunity areas in a timely manner. Upon finding them, they need to develop and execute an effective reponse strategy on the Web to ensure it is on top of the message control. This involves more than just providing David a refund. They then need a persistent engagement strategy to ensure they have a 2-way dialog with their customers on all future incidents as well as service improvement suggestions. Finally, they need to be tracking and measuring all of this activity over time for continuous improvement and enhancement of business value.

I’ve argued before in the Era of Customer Engagement that examples such as these are only beginning to emerge, but it is a fact of life going forward and a great opportunity that companies must embrace. I’ve also argued in the Need For Integrated Customer Engagement Processthat solely responding with a corporate blog is inadequate as a response or effecive customer engagement strategy.

A comprehensive approach of (1) Locating and Listening to your customers, (2) Engaging them directly or enabling engagement through a discussion hub, and finally (3) Tracking and measuring responses to grow business value is necessary.

— brian