We live in a time of disruption. New technologies make old service offerings obsolete. Entire business models become threatened and then destroyed: seemingly overnight. Small companies come out of nowhere to disrupt massive competitors.
Many disrupted companies never see it coming. Business as usual just stopped working, and their customers weren't buying anymore.
Something changed and they don't know what, because they simply haven't been listening.
The good news is, companies that are falling behind today have ways to find out why they are struggling, what to do about it and how to get ahead.
A wealth of free data
Social media is a fire hose of information, streaming valuable, actionable data at companies all day, every day. It provides vast amounts of information on target company industries, services, finances, future plans and people.
There's an incredible amount to be learned about a potential customer just by paying attention to these channels.
Imagine how much rich, customer data is waiting to be discovered in that content by someone able to make sense of it.
Social awareness creates value for everyone
When a company is able to parse this data and make it useful to their employees, they can understand their customer at a highly granular level. It's like a living, breathing ecosystem of customers’ needs and expectations: updated constantly to reflect the living, breathing customers on the other end.
It's telling savvy companies how to sell, market and build customer loyalty.
It is the companies that understand this data who will become the leaders.
When you do understand it, your level of visibility into customer needs is astounding. You’ll have better insight into the next plausible purchase decision and be better positioned to be there with a compelling offer.
You can see trends on satisfaction with your company, and how customers see you or their dissatisfaction with a competitor. You can also see how receptive customers might be to an overture.
It gives you the opportunity to use your understanding to influence and to make customer engagement a sustainable competitive advantage.
When you understand customer needs, you can continuously move into a position to fulfill them.
This level of insight allows the pursuit team to recognize and suggest future needs that the customer may not have yet considered: to envision the art of the possible.
When you can do that, you can create value for everyone.
Doing this requires everyone to get involved.
One view to customer engagement
Today, market leaders realize they can't create engaged customers with just sales. They need to bring the expertise of the entire company to bear; in particular, Sales, Marketing and Customer Service.
Exceptional customer engagement requires an integrated approach based on one view of the customer, where each interaction provides the opportunity to deliver an exceptional customer experience.
Every department must place the customer first. By improving the processes that serve the customer and by choosing metrics that measure activities that drive customer engagement, they can do just that. They can use data analysis tools to do it even better. With a clear picture of customer needs, they can build pipelines within the CRM system designed to center them.
When they do, contact with Customer Service can seamlessly trigger an opportunity for a marketing contact, which can then inform a sales call. Each of these interactions starts with customer needs front and center. Sales, Marketing and Customer Service also each enrich the customer view with the most recent information.
Sales can seek prospects by monitoring competitors’ Twitter handles and engaging their unhappy customers.
Marketing can engage with potential customers on LinkedIn by providing thought leadership and useful information to customers as a means of engaging and delivering value.
Customer Service can monitor social media feeds to identify trending customer questions and prepare brand responses from each department.
"As a seller, you become best enabled to drive an opportunity or an outcome or a deal when you're leveraging insights from your marketing department,” says Hayden Stafford, VP of Worldwide Sales for Microsoft Dynamics and an expert in sales, sales management and client relations. “The rich, complex information that's coming out of Marketing provides insights that no one else can get… service is another piece. If you are leveraging your service teams, you understand what customers are saying after you've sold them stuff. Bringing those insights back into your sales process is absolutely critical because you then understand the full journey of the customer."
Leaders make sense of it all
All of this is made possible by the fire hose of information that is social media; the powerful analytical and collaboration tools that allow companies to make sense of it and an organizational structure that removes obstacles to collaboration to begin with.
All that rich, free data is impossible to make sense of without data tools like customer relationship management solutions with integrated social analytics. The leaders in your industry will be the ones that best leverage the wealth of information on social media; using tools designed to let them manage it, share it and provide exceptional user experience to their customers.
The companies that don't will become victims to disruption.
Read the social selling eBook to learn more about how to make sense of the wealth of social data, the tools that make it possible and the new organizational structures that currently foster collaboration.
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