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How Cisco's SocialMiner helps improve the conversation with customers (a John Hernandez interview)

One-on-one interview with John Hernandez

John Hernandez is General Manager of the Customer Collaboration Business Unit (CCBU) at Cisco, which provides contact center and interactive voice applications to enterprises and service providers. In this capacity he oversees product and market development, and is closely involved in the business with the Cisco sales force and partners.

The Strategy Web spoke with him about the launch and benefits of their new customer care product SocialMiner.

What were Cisco’s most successful social medias tactics in the last 2 years? How did Cisco came across the new solution SocialMiner? Why is social media monitoring so important from a strategic point of view for businesses?

Cisco is very active in social media. Our employees were some of the earliest adopters of Myspace, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other social sites. We have tens of thousands of active social media users in our company, as well as a robust and vibrant corporate presence on the social web.

Social media monitoring can become a key strategic advantage for businesses. From a contact center perspective, social media could be treated as “just another channel” in a multichannel approach. However, the public nature of social media, along with the sheer volume of social media postings, makes social media as much a business intelligence tool as a new way to engage with customers. Cisco believes that proactive social media customer care will have a transformative impact on how companies engage and serve their customers.

The concept of the SocialMiner product came from our observation of the changing communication habits and Internet usage of consumers. As consumers have adopted social media channels for their individual communications on an ever-increasing basis over the past couple years, it is only natural that they would consider interacting with a business via social media. This concept of social impacting customer relationships is a very active topic within the emerging “Social CRM” community.

Is SocialMiner just a Customer Service product? Bearing in mind that social conversations on the web affects the whole business…

Cisco SocialMiner is an engagement product, not a “listening product.” SocialMiner is designed to scale the quality and quantity of social media interactions performed by a business. SocialMiner can be used for a variety of business functions such as Support or Sales, but we believe the customers that derive the most value from social media will also use these engagements to drive business process change. For example, an organization could use SocialMiner as a source of business intelligence to provide real-time customer appreciation or criticism of a product or service (or of a competitors’ product/service). Social media can direct their business strategy. Cisco believes that companies that learn from social media will become closer to meeting their customers’ expectations and this will drive overall business success.

Which three benefits do business users have using SocialMiner compared to other tools in the market (Radian6, Alterian, etc.)

1. Cisco SocialMiner is complementary to brand monitoring dashboard solutions. It is designed to support scaling social media by leveraging the best practices from contact center type operational models: Queuing, Service Level Metrics (Average Speed of Answer), and productivity metrics for users. By contrast, many of the brand monitoring dashboards have pieces of workflow capability, but these capabilities are either relatively limited or recently introduced functions.

2. Cisco SocialMiner is a component of the Cisco contact center portfolio which currently includes an installed base of over 10,000 customers. SocialMiner is packaged, priced, and delivered along with Cisco Unified Contact Center Express and Cisco Unified Contact Center Enterprise solutions, and therefore it supports the same installation, deployment, serviceability, and user experience as these other Cisco collaboration solutions.

3. Cisco SocialMiner is a very easy to install and operate software appliance. It runs on premise or in a customer controlled data-center hosting facility and offers unlimited capture capability. Cisco SocialMiner is an API-first product with 100% of functionality available via REST API’s and all user interface delivered as OpenSocial gadgets with documented source that can be modified by Cisco channel or customers. This model supports the preferred consumption model of most enterprise organizations along with a broad customization capability.

Can it be used as a stand-alone product or only in combination with other Cisco products for customer service? Do you have any case studies of success?

Cisco SocialMiner can be used as a stand-alone solution. We have several case studies that illustrate SocialMiner’s success. Zone Labs is one of them. The small wellness company was looking to accelerate revenues & grow 1000% in next 3 years, implemented Cisco SocialMiner to increase customer engagement, customer satisfaction and sales. Zone Labs started developing social communities on their own website as well as Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets. They used Cisco SocialMiner to route and queue contacts to experts within their organization.

Using SocialMiner, experts were able to proactively answer health and wellness questions via Twitter, providing encouragement to consumers on the Zone Diet, customer service and expert advice on questions such as vitamins and healthy recipes. Zone Labs saw improved agent productivity by automating capturing and responding to social media posts (currently estimated at ~10x). They gained greater customer satisfaction & brand mind-share from faster first inquiry resolution on the web, and were able to compete on comparable scale with larger companies. Their social media activity reduced their customer acquisition cost and created a larger funnel with more leads, that were converted more easily and more quickly than before.

Within 4 months of using SocialMiner, Zone Labs saw tremendous results:
– Web site transactions up 189%
– Revenue up 203%
– 202% increase in total visitors to www.zonediet.com

Thank you for your time, John. And by the way: I like your commercial for the product…

KLM Surprise – a discussable social media campaign…

When I first came across the KLM Surprise idea, I thought “cool customer service”, “very modern approach” and “nice use of a Social Media campaign”. It seems KLM engages in how to make their clients happy, how to understand personalized customer service of the future and how to use social media to reach out to their clients one step ahead.

On a second thought, clients could be overwhelmed in a negative way. The approach of the airline might be seen as “social media stal….”. Shall we really use this phrase? Is there some validity in it?

The idea implements all aspects and features of an advertising campaign, and the KLM claim for me seems to be: modern social advertising. Or as the brand puts it: KLM is “committing little acts of kindness because we wanted to discover how happiness spreads”.

Nothing bad about it in my eyes. I like the idea in some way…

Nevertheless, my question is: Is this modern social advertising approach going to far? Is it addressing too much the human characteristics of personality and individuality? Or is it just the modern way of personalized advertising? Some kind of the future of Social CRM?

Know what?! Let’s discuss it! Watch it and give us thoughts….

Book Review – Marketing in the Age of Google

When somebody used to work for Google there is a lot of knowedge to be shared. And I thought, I could learn more about SEO techniques and tactics. Vanessa Fox did work for Google (apart from inventing Webmaster Central), and so I thought, I need to read the book Marketing in the Age of Google. As a web-strategist I should know the secrets of ranking high on Google for my clients.

Getting Vanessa’s inside view on how Google and their search technology operates, gives an aggregated insight on the evolution of search topics. It is saving time and presumingly more efficient than following or reading many SEO experts thoughts. And then let’s help clients to optimize their site fropm a SEO point of view.

To write a review is a challenge. As I follow some of the most interesting SEO cracks, I knew some content topics already. But there is much more quality thoughts and knowledge in it that makes the book worth reading. If companies want to optimize their top rankings, the book offers good tactical approaches and a clear structure how to start and evolve your content strategy as well as how to conquer the top positions in Google. 

Having said this, the book is based on the theory of having a web-strategy in place that is aligned to the company’s business strategy. If your company has the consumer approach understanding the needs, desires and motivation why consumers go online to evaluate products and services, then the book is a must read.

The way people used search engines has changed in the last years as the web has become mature from an information platform to a consumer generated content base. It is not about what the company spreads but what the users are looking for and the content they share and create. People hear something about a person, a brand or a campaign and instandly start going to search for more information. Not seldomly they are finding consumer input. And often the initial search entry point starts with offline marketing, PR or customer service conversation – in print ads, TV commercials or an wallpapers.

Business that know how to connect offline and online efforts will succeed in the future. Happy that this was my main claim when I started this blog and thus gets now backed up by a Google specialist… Thanks Vanessa!
 
Spot On!
The amount of input the book Marketing in the Age of Google offers is probably only handable for a SEO specialist. And this person has to have the buy in from the C-level to manage the online strategy accordingly. A lot of the strategy is based on content creation and content framework which is a PR, marketing, HR, R&D and Customer Service topic in the future in my eyes. These departments need to learn how to place content effectively in the search world. It will affect the way peope perceive the business strategy of a company and the way the companies and brands interact with their clients, partners and employees. What I missed was the effect taxonomies and social tagging might have on search in the future but maybe this comes with the next update. 

Marketers relying more on blogs in the business world

Although Facebook and Twitter are highly rated from internet consumers, blogs are the standard approach for marketers in the business world (b2b).

eMarketer just released a study that states 34% of all US companies are running a public blog. The outlook for 2012 is even more promissing: The study projects an increase by 11 points to a total of 45% by 2012. In 2007 only 16% of companies used a blog for their communication strategy.

“Studies have shown that marketers perceive blogs to have the highest value of any social media in driving site traffic, brand awareness, lead generation and sales—as well as improving customer service.” Paul Verna, senior analyst, eMarketer

Especially smaller companies with less marketing bucks see the potential of blogs. Short sign-of processes, faster internal dynamics and more flexibility in choosing social technology make it easier for a managing director of an SMB company to set up a blog. Larger companies like stock listed companies have more restricted options to go live on WordPress, Blogger or Typepad in terms of potential legal, IR-related and logistical issues.

Though Twitter and Facebook are easier to set up and kick off the conversation with clients, the impact of blogs is manifold. Blog posts are indexable and searchable on Google as well as on other search engines. And blogging has a long-lasting effect. While tweets cannot talk about complex topics and disappear quite quickly from search engines, blog post stay – no matter if you are looking for that information today ot in five years time.

Spot On!
If companies can manage it from a resources perspective, the best way to go forward is to set up many social media access points. The professionals have identified by web analysis and social media monitoring where client engagement takes place and where their clients are talking. In a perfect world, users will find the blog post via Twitter and then use the “Like” button to get to the Facebook page – and ideally find some interesting and relevant content there again. But creating different content for different access points is the biggest challenge…, bigger than writing a blog post. Don’t you think…?

Social Media oder die Qual der Wahl

Wir haben gestern einen Ausflug gemacht. An den Tegernsee, denn wir lieben die Bergregion um München. Schöne Berge, traumhafte Natur und auf den Almen immer nette Menschen und leckeres Essen. Aber eine Sache macht uns immer wieder zu schaffen. Die Qual der Wahl… Die Qual der Wahl, welche Hütte wir diese Wochenende “bewandern”. Welchen Weg wir nehmen sollen. Oder, welches Essen uns wohl am meisten ansprechen wird, wenn wir oben auf dem Berg angekommen sind. Und selbst wenn wir es wissen, lesen wir die Karte und sehen immernoch vor der Entscheidung … oder haben weiterhin die Qual der Wahl.

Eine große Auswahl zu haben, ist eine schöne Sache. Man könnte sagen, ein Luxusproblem… Aber wie auch schon Miriam Meckel in ihrem Buch Das Glück der Unerreichbarkeit klar macht, ist die Qual der Wahl eine unserer größten Herausforderungen der Zukunft. Viele Sachen stimulieren uns, viele Sinne rühren uns, viel Auswahl verwirrt uns. Ohne Filter wird alles zu einem einzigen Chaos.

Wir lieben es Karten zu lesen, die eine große Auswahl bieten und soind enttäuscht, wenn die Karte nur klassische Breotzeit offeriert. Es sei denn auf der Hütte, wo die Brotzeit zu einem kulinarischen Highlight avenziert. Und wie es immer so ist, scheint der Hunger und die Begeisterung größer als das Bedürfnis. Die Qual der Wahl wächst…

Warum erzähle ich das alles?

Manchmal möchte ich nicht in der Haut von den Leuten stecken, die ich so berate oder beraten habe in den letzten Wochen und Monaten. Social Media Marketing scheint einen ähnlichen Effekt auf Marketing-, PR-, HR- und Customer Service Manager zu haben.

Die Qual der Wahl stapelt sich für sie in Form von zahlreichen Fragen…

– Nutze ich Social Media überhaupt? Eine Wahl, die eigentlich keine mehr sein sollte…
– Bleibe ich besser bei meinen Leisten und erklimme nicht die Höhen und Tiefen der modernen Medien?
– Welche Kommunikationmedien nutzt meine Zielgruppe (am liebsten und in 5 Jahren noch)?
– Welche Plattform schmeckt mir (Benutzerfreundlichekeit, Usability, Technik) am besten?
– Welche Plattform oder welche sozialen Medien ist/sind für mich zielführend?
– Kann ich eine Strategie, die meisten meinen eher eine taktisches Vorgehen, eines Mitbewerbes adaptieren?
– Geht die Geschäftsführung d’accord mit einer unstrategisch wirkenden Trial-and-Error Phase?
– Welche Tools, Taktiken und Trends nutze ich um meine Botschaften anzubringen?
– Wie und womit hört man eigentlich am besten in die Zielgruppe rein?
– Wie kommunizire ich und mache die Marke menschlich?
– Mit welchen Techniken oder Apps erhöhe ich meinen ROI-Output?

Die Qual der Wahl ist wie ein unbewanderter gebirgiger Waldweg. Man muß sich ab des Weges der Konformität wandern und testen, wenn man dann doch mal mit Ruhe einen klaren und zielführenden Gedanken fassen will.

Ein paar grundsätzliche Fragen, die man sich machen sollte…

– Wer ist meine Zielgruppe und wie ist sie im Social Web heute und morgen unterwegs (Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, Gen Z)?
– Wann soll mein Auswahl Erfolg zeigen? Deklinieren Sie vom kleinsten gemeinsamen Nenner der Unternehmensziele (Markenbildung, Engagement, Leads, Umsatzzahlen…
– Was schränkt mein Vorgehen (One-Voice Policy, Kunden Status Updates, Kommentare oder Posts) mit den sozialen Medien aufgrund business-strategischer Vorgaben ein?
– Warum scheinen soziale Medien für meine Zielgruppe am aussichtsreichsten? Eine gute Analyse der Erfolgssäulen gehört vorangeschaltet, um Kosten, Personalaufwand und sonstige Resourcen abschätzen zu können…
– Wie setze ich die sozialen Kommunikationskanäle Blog, Twitter, Faceboook, Youtube oder XING/LinkedIn zukunftsträchtig als Informationsmedien auf, wer testet und wer optimiert? Wie kann hieraus ein steter Prozess entstehen?

Vielleicht bietet der Post eine Leilinie zur Entscheidungshilfe. Falls nicht, sagen Sie mir, wie sie mit der Qual der Wahl umgehen oder umgegangen sind. Die Diskussion ist eröffnet…

News Update – Best of the Day

Just some weeks ago, I have been talking about the idea of replacing loyalty cards by social networking customer service to drive customer engagement. Now, the New York Times has extended the idea by the integration of location-based advertising using Foursquare… and of course replacing loyalty cards by social networks activity and mobile apps. The idea seems to be moving from trend to standard…

Often the question comes up which brands are the most valuable in the world. Millward Brown’s Optimor BrandZ Top100 Most Valuable Global Brands report gives us some insight. The key findings…

– Google is the most valuable global brand worth $114 billion (2nd is IBM with $86 billion, 3rd Apple with $83 billion, Microsoft was fourth with $76 billion.
– Social Media is a winner: Facebook has a brand value of $5.5 billion. Use of social media was a key trend across many of the successful brands this year, i.e. HSBC’s Expat Explorer online community.
– Strong brands such as Samsung (80% growth in brand value) and Starbucks (17% increase) are evidence that businesses with strong brands recover from adversity faster.

Heineken commercials know how to dive into the hearts of their main target group. “Men with talents” is another fantastic example after their “walk in fridge” idea… Sorry ladies, but we man love it!

Study: The importance of cross-channel sales

Most companies wonder how the purchase funnel looks like when consumers evaluate products they think about buying. A recent study from ATG helps: 30% of consumers reach out to more than three commerce channels to research a product and make a purchase. This shows that retailers and merchants need a broader cross-channel approach to boost sales and enhance customer purchase decisions.

The consumer study found that more than three-quarters of consumers use two or more channels and nearly one-third work with even three or more channels to research and purchase products. While we have all expect that mobile use and social media find their way into consumers’ online commerce activities, it is surprising that traditional catalog channels are still popular.

“Merchants have heard the call for a stronger cross-channel strategy for many years, but what has been lacking is a deeper explanation about why this is so important. We are seeing a multi-channel revolution now, with a vast majority of consumers using multiple channels and now almost one-third actually relying on three or more channels to complete transactions. Retailers must direct their energy toward fulfilling the unique role and sales potential of each channel. This research illuminates the expectations consumers have for the Web, call centers, the store, catalogs, and email.”
Nina McIntyre, Senior Vice President Marketing and CMO, ATG

The key findings of consumers’ cross channel experiences…

– 78% use two or more channels to browse, research and make purchases; 30% said they use three channels or more

– 78% of all consumers say they use catalogs to browse and research products or services at least four times a year BUT 40% of those consumers never purchase products or services through catalogs.

– 43% start their research online or with mobile devices. BUT They need to call customer service or call center representative to complete the transaction because the product or service information cannot be found online!

– 39% browse via the online or mobile channel and then make purchases in the store because they prefer to touch and feel the product – reason for 36% is product and brand comparison

Interesting findings on mobile commerce (emphasis on the 18-34 age)…

– 27% of all consumers 18 and older use their mobile devices to browse or research products and services at least four times a year, and that number jumps to 41% for the 18-34 year-old age group

– 13% of all consumers 18 and older and 23% of the 18-34 age purchasing at least four times a year via their mobile devices; 8% of the later are doing it weekly

Spot on!
The study highlights how important it is to link online and offline sales communication and give the customers the same purchase service in multiple channels. It will always be difficult to understand where customers make their final purchase decision and where they finally buy though. This additional study by Google underlines the trend for an offline and online purchase decision mix. One things is for sure again: The need for more awareness around the incorporation of commerce activities in social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter is gaining momentum.

eblizz – the next social shopping extension

In the last four weeks, some of the users of The Strategy Web might have seen a small icon on the right hand side of my blog called ‘SocialSpace’. You might have wondered what it is. Or how to use it. Here comes the answer. Now, that the team around the eblizz founders, Jeanette Okwu and Martin Wawrusch, has completed the integration of the social software tool, I will introduce you to a technology that I would call the next social shopping extension for future business.

Social networks are on an all-time high. Corporate websites and shops loose out on traffic and referential linking as people start talking, connecting and linking via social networks like Facebook, Twitter or other social networks. SEO doesn’t work here as closed front doors don’t allow access for SEO tactics. And with the massive rise of social networks, especially Facebook, the question comes up how to bridge the lack of a connection between social networks and homepages or shops.

eblizz offers this solution. It brings social networks and brands together. In a way that social Networks become an integral part of brand websites – be it homepages, shops or blogs. For now, eblizz starts with Facebook – but Martin told me, other networks will follow.

With eblizz users can interact with their social networks without leaving branded sites. Content can be shared with friends on Facebook. Users can immediately comment from the website they are on. Or store products visually in ‘The Shoebox’ and keep it for later purpose or use. Content can be, or as eblizz calls it, has to be ‘liberated’

What is the benefit of eblizz?
Business perspective Think about it. Prosumers create masses of content on the social web. Consuming that content, prosumers realize that brands become more and more exchangable. This causes problems for companies. They need to increase efforts to make their brand get heard. So ideally, companies make use of recommendation marketing to use the buzz of their brand fans.

User perspective Consumers often find things like nice products in online-shops. Or great music. Or funny videos. Or great pictures. And they want to recommend this to friends they are connected with on social networks. Today, it is impossible to take your friends from homepage to homepage, and easily share that content via a social network with one click.

Imagine your Facebook friends follow you from website to website. And, when you want to recommend something to them, you don’t have to change browser windows. You don’t have to cut-and-paste content. You just drag and drop it to the relevant person. Watch the short explanation and tell me if this isn’t really cool…

Companies pay a fee to get their websites eblizzed – no matter if it is a shop, a homepage or a blog. Their sites will be defragmented like a cake. This makes it easy for prosumers to share and recommend relevant pieces of content of a website: videos, links, pictures, etc.

Once a site is eblizzed, users find a button called SocialSpace – the button I started talking about at the beginning. The user logs in with on the question-marked face with their social network account. The SocialSpace opens up in a small picture on the website they are on. The users see their profile, the friends and updates immediately. They can also search for friends. And, they can immediately interact with their social network friends.

Users can even ‘bookmark’ interesting content in their Shoe-Box. The Shoe-Box is a place for personal content belongings. Here the users keep very special things in their SocialSpace. Maybe to recomment or remember a product or present for a Christmas or birthday in the future.

eblizz offers a next generation website customer service. eblizz integrates social network interaction in companies websites. And eblizz will become the driver of social commerce efforts by enabling engagement and brand buzz.

“Prosumers” create masses of content on the internet, including blog posts, product reviews and ratings. Producing all that content, prosumers begin to blur the lines between brands, making them more interchangeable. Not good for individual brands. That’s why companies need to increase efforts to distinguish their brand from all the rest. One way is to capitalize on “recommendation marketing” — build the buzz created by their brand fans. eblizz can help.

And here is how it works…
Consumers often discover products that they love online. And great music, funny videos and awesome pictures. They want to recommend them to their social-network friends. Today, it is impossible to take social-network friends from homepage to homepage, and easily share that content via a social network with one click. This is a universal social web problem!

So, imagine your Facebook friends follow you from website to website. And, when you want to recommend something to them, you don’t have to change browser windows. You don’t have to cut-and-paste content. You just drag and drop it to the relevant person.

eblizz was created to make things easier for anyone who wants to recommend content, product and services to any or all of their social-network friends. Websites and blogs sign up to get “eblizzed”. The fee seems very reasonable. Once a site is eblizzed, a button appears on the site’s homepage called “SocialSpace.” When a user logs in with their social network account information, Facebook for example, the SocialSpace opens up into a small picture that displays the user’s Facebook profile, Facebook friends (and their pictures!) and updates that are happening on facebook right from the website the user is on. The user can then drag and drop anything from the website right onto the Facebook page of any or all of their Facebook friends.

The user can also ‘bookmark’ interesting content from the website by dragging into their “ShoeBox.” This content stays in the Shoe Box for the user’s later use, can be edited and also shared.

Spot On!
So for me, the reason for a website to get “eblizzed” is simple. eblizz integrates social network interaction for all the users who visit a website, making it easy for them to recommend and share the website’s content. That’s how eblizz helps companies distinguish their brands. What is your take on it? Maybe you want to test it with my eblizz SocialSpace button? Drag and drop me your best videos on advertisement, funny pictures, shopping tips or cool texts. Looking forward to it!

And sure, let me know what you think about eblizz…

Augmented Reality – the future of customer service?

The customer service world around us is changing with the social web, new technologies, and especially mobile apps. The question is how much this is effecting our perspective of the real offline world around us. A new technology is evolving that is beginning to connect the offline and the virtual world from a customer perspective as it will offer some new form of customer service. The term is Augmented Reality (AR).

It is a technology that brings your visual experience and information from the web or networks together, and by doing this enriches daily situations with relevant data from the web – and in more and more cases the information provided will come from the user.

The competition for users and companies has already begun. We have augmented reality browsers like Layar, explaining us instantly which famous buildings are surrounding us. Or, another AR browser named Wikitude that starts to become one of the most-wanted AR browser apps (not only for iPhone users) and gets nominated for one award after another. With wikitude.me shops and service providers of all sorts can already use this cool service to make themselves visible in the offline world by geo-tagging their office or location with simple online entries. If somebody is new in a city, this person can find a laundry or the next wine shop much easier in the future – just by using an AR browser app.

There are products like T-shirts projecting interactive games with AR. Digital cosmetic mirrors where women in cosmetic shops can see in real-time what a new eye-liner or make-up is looking good at them without testing it in reality. Adidas will launch a series of shoes, each printed with an AR code on the tongue which give you access to an interactive game that changes on a montly basis. Is this the customer service of the future?

Now, just imagine what this technology could do for customer service in the future. Wouldn’t it be a positive effect when we get immediate feedback on health information about the food and drinks we consume?

The following short film, called Augmented (Hyper)Reality, shows us a world some time ahead, where augmented reality is part of our daily offline life. We see what the actor sees, from his own perspective, and get to know the oppotunities that AR might offer to our daily life. OK, if we agree to getting networked completely…

The interesting acknowledgement for companies will be the advertising part of the film – although in some way it might be shocking…

Spot On!
The complete overkill seems to be the massive sea of logos flooding our sight in the beginning. Although the above examples might seem an exaggerated view of a futuristic branding scenario, it gives some idea on how the world might change customer care in the future. And you never know if this will be really happening, or not. Today, this all might sound strange to us but just think about how common the use of artifical medical help is for us, or how often we use the navigation system in cars today.

And then, think about the options when combining location based advertising with augmented reality. This opens a complete new world of customer care…

Don’t you think?

Is customer-centric business the future?

In the last 12 years, the credo of my business life was “Customer First!”. It surprises and disappoints me when I experience poor customer service. Or when I hear from unhappy friends, colleagues or relatives telling me stories about how companies treat the centre of their business: customers.

Last week, when I was thinking about how to leverage this to a higher level, I came across a modern business strategy vision by Ranjay Gulati, Harvard Business School professor and author of the book “Reorganize for Resilience: Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business“. In the following video Gulati tells us how to deliver what customers really want.

Reorienting vs. Reorganizing
Ranjay Gulati sees the fundamental changes appropriate for some movement in company processes. Customers have more information, more choices on products while companies are facing global competition. So, businesses have to think about their business (not only marketing or sales efforts!) and how it operates.

Redefining vs. Reinventing
The analysis of the customer base might show that the website is designed for male while the majority of the users might be female. So, we need to ask questions like “Who are my customers?”, “How do my customers shop?”, or “What do they really want?”.

Gulati explains with the latest success of Best Buy how women and men shop. At that point, he also hints to the upsale opportunity of recommendations.

Success for businesses, he believes, comes from “Inside-Out-Perspective”. Companies don’t have to produce everything themselves but need to make the client happy like Apple with the iPhone. 90% of the inputs are not made by Apple. The same occurs to the apps in the Apple store where Apple basically just orchestrates the customers wishes.

“Make this identity shift. I am not here to sell what I produce – I am here to solve a set of customer problems (…) and actually acting on that!”

How to get to a customer-centric business…
1. Shifting mindset: the intention to solve customer problems.
2. Sense of curiosity and humility: the wish to understand your customers.
3. Make a creative leap: the will to understand their needs.
4. Align the elements in the organization: the motivation to live the customer-centric business.

Spot On!
Interested to get your view on this modern business strategy. Let us know what you think about customer-centric business. Or do you think the social web will be leading us towards this business process anyway?