Social Media often focuses on the personal experience. Which makes sense based on the first term – Social. A social experience is something that requires at least two people to interact on some level. As expected companies want to tap into this relationship and to become part of the experience.
The success and pervasiveness of Social Networks such as Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter, Ning, and numerous others have led to an increased awareness inside of companies to the power and reach of Social Media. The challenge companies face is that they need to make sure they do it right. They need to insure customers know their experience is unique, that their data (content) is protected, and that they are valued as a customer. Social Media technologies can help facilitate this process and helps lead to an authentic experience. What I am calling Corporate Authenticity.
What is "Corporate Authenticity" and why you should care?
Corporate Authenticity may be a new term, but it is not a new concept. Corporate Authenticity is the way a company goes about insuring customers have an experience that is predictable and repeatable.
Why would a company care if a customer has an authentic experience?
Three words - Relationship, Responsibility, Repeatability
Relationship – Every company wants to build long term relationships. Studies have shown that it costs 7-10 times more to gain new customers than it does to keep your current customers happy. Companies that exhibit high levels of Corporate Authenticity will find that they can count on customer referrals and repeat business.
Responsibility - Every company that you do business with has some level of responsibility to provide you with a level of service before, during and after the sale. Some companies have regulatory requirements that drive responsibilities too. Corporate Authenticity must include the use of technologies, like Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Social Media technologies, to insure content is protected and disseminated to people with the right to access their content.
Repeatability - They want you to come back. They want you to tell someone. Typically a good customer experience leads to the happy customer telling just ONE person. Social Media technologies are changing this – both in terms of the dynamics around how good (or bad) news travels and more importantly about how FAST in travels. Corporate Authenticity needs to be predictable and repeatable.
A few experiences with companies that WILL make me come back and DO encourage me to talk (and blog) about my experiences with them:
- Best Buy: I needed a new laptop and after a bit of research I decided Best Buy had what I was looking for. The store was busy and I commend KevinB in the Best Buy Bellevue store for taking the time to search for the laptop I wanted. Doing his job? Sure. But he took the time to make sure my experience was both authentic and exceptional. Well done Kevin. I know why you are are track to get that gold badge for exceptional service.
- Flying Pie Pizza: Low key scenario - yet high on experience. One of the pizza makers recommended the pizza I ordered to be cooked a certain way. I said sure and he was right on. It was phenomenal. In this case the overall revenue was relatively small, but it led to a better experience for me, my family and my friends. We will be back.
- Plantronics: My headset had a small plastic piece break because I stepped on it. I called the Plantronics customer support number and was told it was no problem to ship a replacement piece to me. A few days later the parts showed up – no charge. I have recommended Plantronics many times to friends and family - now with the recent great customer service experience I’m an even bigger fan. LUV their stuff. Follow them on Twitter - http://twitter.com/Plantronics
I suppose there could be fourth word. The previous three lead to this fourth word. While it may seem crass and callous the fourth word is critical to insure a business can continue to play another day. The fourth word is Revenue.
Every authentic experience does not need to lead to revenue. However, in most cases revenue is a critical component that ties the other three words together to create authentic experiences. Because the truth is revenue allows companies to do things on a repeatable basis.
MEASUREMENT of Social Media Efforts – METRICS
One factor I have not seen a lot of in the Social Media arena yet is proof that investments in Social Media are effective. There are a few companies specializing in this. One is Radian6 and they have a solid head start with some very intriguing customer evidence stories. Companies need to prove their investments are worthwhile. One metric they will be measured by is Corporate Authenticity. My request to you - I’m on the lookout for more SM evidence. If you have some please share it with me via e-mail.
Customer ARE asking for Authenticity
As an example points #2, 3, 4 and 9 in this article about the “10 Leading Trends in Social Media for 2009” help to prove that customers are in charge of the corporate experience. Customers are demanding Corporate Authenticity. I recently finished a blog post about Corporate Authenticity and how it relates to Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems. There is a very strong link to the data (aka the content) stored inside of ECM systems. The way customers access their content will be via Social Media technologies. The experience of the customer will form their perception of your companies Corporate Authenticity.
What are your experiences with companies that exhibit high Corporate Authenticity? Did these companies use Social Media technologies to reach you? Was it a good experience?
What companies have you dealt with that have low or no Corporate Authenticity? Did you tell anyone about your experience? (Note: Typically – bad experiences are passed on to 10 people)
About The Author:
I have spent the better part of the last 16 years working in various aspects of the ECM space. I spent time at Kofax, Microsoft, FileNet, K2, and most recently Captaris (which was acquired by Open Text in Nov 2008). Prior to that I was a Unix VAR running my own company.