Your Secret Is Out – And Now the “Get Customer-Centric Quick” Industry Is Here


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As with most things in life, that little secret you knew (and didn’t tell your friends) gets “outed” because something changed. Suddenly, your competitive advantage is exposed to the world – and then Paul Greenberg has to go write a book about it. What changed? Well, the customer, of course! But while exposing this little gem something that many businesses had used as as competitive advantage was revealed – customer-centricity.

There are at least three types of business cultures out there.

This list could go on forever, but I’m making a point here —

  1. Passive Inside-out culture – competitive because they dominate a niche. Don’t know if and when a competitor will out-innovate them and don’t really think about it. They are focused on delivering the product that got them there and not much else.
  2. Aggressive Inside-out culture – when email came they abused it thinking the numbers would simply work in their favor. The have a product to sell, and they want you to know about – when you open your inbox, during dinner hour – they expose us to their product at the most inconvenient and uninvited times.
  3. Dynamic Outside-in culture – Always listening to their customers through any channel available; learning and adapting their offerings along the way – focused on creating value for their customers and keeping them loyal. Knowing when their customers want to hear from them and how they want to be communicated with. Key difference – they listen before they act which makes the act more impactful for their business.

We’ve always had customer-centric businesses and there is evidence to suggest those that focus on customer experience outperform their peers. But should these businesses fear the gradual change to the social customer and the sudden emergence of new channels and tools (monitoring and delivery)?

Has Spam Found a New Home?

Beyond the basic attempt to explain what a social / customer-centric business is, there is suddenly a lot of noise about social media. Twitter. MySpace, Facebook, FriendFeed – the list goes on – are all confusing the issue and making it difficult for people like me to provide the proper focus to my clients. As with CRM, they think these technology channels are going to solve their customer problems.

Heck, I know at least one (there are more) so-called Social CRM evangelist that is using these technologies improperly for personal branding, so shouldn’t we expect that the get rich quick mentality in many businesses will take over and do the same – essentially spamming us all on Twitter and Facebook? Between you and me, it’s already begun. I’ve been experimenting lately with Twitter following and it’s scary how many people I follow send me a direct message with a link embedded in it. Obviously, they are trying to sell me something. These are worthless relationships, Enough said.

Don’t let companies that behave this way convince you they are the customer-centric model just because they use tools classified as social. Nothing social about them. If you are customer-centric and engage your customers the way you’ve learned from listening, you have nothing to fear just because there is a new QVC type channel in the ether. Your customers probably aren’t listening to it.

I’m confident there are more customer-focused business cultures out there today (thanks to guys like Paul Greenberg), and that we are a step ahead of the fiasco that was the migration from Sales Force Automation to Customer Relationship Management – one where software companies were able to hijack terms and obfuscate the potential value-creation that could have been realized by more companies.

I know from first hand experience that there is a better-prepared army of consultants, writers and thought leaders out there ready to do battle with their inside-out thinking foes. Many of us had the privilege, after meeting and bonding through social media channels and stumbling into the SCRM Accidental Community, to meet at the first ever Social CRM Summit (#scrmsummit on Twitter) in Herndon, VA this past week – hosted by BPT Partners and thought leader Paul Greenberg.  I was lucky enough to be one of the attendees.

If you’d like to learn more about it, here’s a post from my colleague Brian Vellmure with some of the things we learned. Fortunately, many of us knew and were sold on this before arriving – and are well on our way to achieving the successful customer outcomes of outside-in thinking.

Thanks for bringing it all together Paul! I’ve done enough rambling for one post

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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