Customer influence continues to grow. According to Brian Solis, author of “Engage!” and principal of FutureWorks, how businesses embrace this opportunity says everything about how they view customers—and the relationships they’re shaping as a result.
Solis cites a joint study by Jive Software and Penn, Schoen, & Berland that examined how social media impact business strategy. The study found that companies benefit from a higher level of customer insight when they engage in social media. These insights help companies improve their products in response to customer wants and needs, which allows them to deliver more customer benefits through higher product satisfaction, which in turn increases sales. In the end, this cycle of “co-creation” promotes loyalty and builds pride and a sense of recognition, which lowers customer service costs while building a strong community of customers and advocates.
Of course, customers are not looking to build a community with a company simply because they can. Community rules require the cultivation of affinity and belonging through relevance, empathy and the consistent delivery of tangible and intangible benefits. In other words, in social media, as in the real world, the pillars of any great business must embody service, innovation, experiences, performance, value, and now co-creation.
While 78% of executives participating in the study recognize that social media is somewhat or very important to the future success of their business, Solis believes these organizations must realize that social media are not a cure for the ills of common business malpractices.