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Design-Thinking Social Media

customer Most organisations are still struggling to understand the benefit of Social Media and are stagnated in a Grail-like search for the ROI data point that will win the argument for ever. However, when you place the customer at the centre of your thinking, that search is over far quickly.

I have been working on a few projects lately that have in some way intersected with  Human Centred Design (download this useful IDEO toolkit as model for HCD methodology), a branch of Design Thinking. This is methodology that places the same thinking designers use at the centre of business problem solving. Most notably, it places the customer at the centre of product and process development, rather than conventional thinking which usually places the company or organisation first.

It has become apparent to me through this process that Social Media automatically becomes central to any business strategy as  a direct result of a Human Centred Design approach. Essentially, use of Social Media becomes defined by the fact that the customer needs the Social channel serviced, not because of any gains a company will derive.

zapposThis is where the problem has been. The business world has wrestled with the search for Social Media ROI to justify investment in it. But they were 'doin' it wrong'. The question is not "what is in it for me?"; but more "what is in it for them?" - the customer.  Anyone who subscribes to the Zappos lesson of "Customer Service is the new Marketing" will see the link that the answer to the second question is also the answer to the first. The customer benefit IS the ROI.

There is no end of data relating to the pay-off that good customer service delivers, and so no need for me to collate too much of it here. But a few key and arresting statistics are worth noting:

  • 86 per cent of customers say they are willing to pay between 5 and 25 per cent above a standard price to ensure a superior quality of customer service (Harris Interactive 2013)
  • 56 per cent of customers who use Social Media to interact with brand say they feel a stronger connection with that brand. (Buffer Research, 2013)
  • 33 per cent of customers who receive a response to a negative comment (on Social Media) are turned around and post a positive review. Moreover 34 per cent delete the original negative review. (Harris Interactive 2013)
  • Social Media users will tell an average of 42 people about a good experience (American Express 2012)
  • 50 per cent of customers are more likely to buy from a brand if they are able to contact that brand via Social Media (Buffer Research 2013) Marc Benioff has been on this right from the start - first with The Social Enterprise and then The Customer Company platforms - and as the picture becomes ever clearer, his ahead-of-its-time vision is becoming more and more searing to me.

Before anyone starts panicking that they are required to provide Zappos-style customer service of dazzling proportions, it is worth reading this article in The Harvard Business Review by Matthew DixonKaren Freeman, and Nicholas Toman: "Stop trying to delight your customers." It makes the seemingly obvious point that it isn't necessarily a delightful experience the customer requires, but merely a functional one that lives up to the promise. As customers are demonstrating in their droves that they want to use Social Media as a customer service channel, the logic of Human Centre Design demands that companies deliver it. The rewards of this approach are immediate and quite easy to derive. That is the ROI of the Social Media - quite simply, avoiding the disadvantages of not doing it.

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