One of the key challenges in the social business world is, how can companies honestly be customer-oriented? I believe that by focusing on what I call the four pillars (4C's) that are mentioned below, any company can overcome this obstacle and vastly improve in this area. These four dimensions are:
Customer Experience: People love to talk about your service and your products. It is the key driver of consumer conversations.
Conversation: It is the goal to converse and not communicate. Listen, ask questions, facilitate the conversations and actively take part in them.
Content: Give people stuff to talk about, but do it in an authentic, positive and relevant way.
Collaboration: Involve customers in everything your company does. Let them be part of your boardroom and let them be involved in your decision making processes.
By managing these four pillars (4C’s) companies can optimize their conversation potential. However, the impact of these pillars grows if they are implemented within an open, positive and authentic company culture.
In this post, I will like to give a status update on the adoption level of this philosophy in the business world.
Low fit with company culture
We all acknowledge the role corporate culture plays in the adoption of social business. I think it is even difficult to be very successful in social media if the company culture is not clearly embedded in the employees’ heads. The goal of a company here should be to find out which corporate values play a role in the adoption of social media and to what extent managers have an emotional relationship with their own corporate values.
Many companies are encountering problems with managing the corporate culture. Apart from the fact that half the top managers do not identify with the values, 37% state that the corporate values are not clear to the employees. 40% of the companies have different values internally and externally. Only half the companies take the corporate values into account when hiring new colleagues: this will indeed make it difficult to revive them!
The foundation of a Conversation Company is the culture. Based on the findings we can already clearly state that about half the companies will have quite some problems if they ever want to succeed in changing. And that is evidently a good opportunity for the other half.
High adoption but low integration of social media
The social media channels adoption rate amongst companies is rather high: 61% of the companies have a Facebook page, 39% are present on Twitter and 29% on LinkedIn.
However this does not imply that the majority of the companies have embraced social media. The majority of the companies are currently still taking their first steps (27%) or are in an experimental stage (17%). 29% of the companies are not doing anything at all with social media.
Companies invest most in Customer Experience, least in Collaboration
A minority of the companies are currently investing in the four components which optimize the conversations: 39% are investing in customer experience, 24% in conversation management, 19% in content marketing and a mere 16% in collaboration.
Focus on the customer
When problems emerge, 60% of the companies always choose a solution in favor of the client. In other words: 40% do not do that and choose a solution which suits the company. The latter will of course generate negative conversations. 40% of the companies do not allow the client to choose his/her own communication channel, but force them to use the company’s choice. 63% try to adapt their attitude and become open to feedback from the client.
4 out of 10 companies listen to clients
40% of the companies observe the conversations of consumers about their brand. In a mere 28% of cases people share insights with the rest of the organisation. 50% manages the online conversations themselves; the other half outsource the job.
The main reasons for outsourcing are, on the one hand the lack of internal competencies and on the other hand avoiding an additional fixed cost. As far as I am concerned this does not really matter, as long as it is done by people who identify with the brand. The best option is of course to choose someone in the company. But the hard reality is that sometimes the people in a branch have been working for a brand longer than some managers.
36% have blogging employees
Apart from a central content team it is very relevant to have a team of blogging employees. Their content will often give clients and prospects an idea of what happens behind the scenes in a company. That is how outsiders can get to know the employees better. The employees will also get closer to the clients. Nonetheless only a minority of the companies are embracing this type of content marketing at this point.
One out of four companies has a client community
A quarter of the companies have a client community, either an open one or a closed one. These companies manage to integrate the client’s input into their decision-taking processes. By approaching the clients via a community, you go beyond a one-off action. Via the community you manage to engage people’s interest over a longer time span. These people are, so to speak, the ideal consultants for your company. They become employees that are not on the payroll.
Do we have a ‘digital gap’ in the business world?
As for the future, 40%-50% of the companies indicate they will invest in at least one of the 4 Cs in order to optimize their conversation potential. It is remarkable that the companies who are already doing a lot today are the ones that want to do more in the future. Based on this research I predict that an increasingly large conversation gap will soon emerge in the corporate world. The speed of change will increase in companies which have already started changing. Companies which are lagging behind will find it increasingly difficult to adapt.
The basis of the willingness to be open to changes and to taking the necessary steps lies mainly in the identification with the corporate culture. Managers who identify strongly with their company have already evolved the furthest.
Final conclusion: if you want to turn your company into a Conversation Company, the first question is: ‘Who?’ and only then do you wonder about the ‘What?’. The hard conclusions is that with the wrong leader, change will not occur.