The first thing you notice when reading The Conversation Company: Boost Your Business Through Culture, People and Social Media by Steven Van Belleghem is that it’s as much about the customer as it is about the company. By seeking to transform company culture to become more collaborative, creative and well, conversational, an organization must focus on delivering a successful customer experience.
CXM v. Company Culture -- What Comes First?
It’s sort of a chicken and egg quandary. What comes first -- stellar company culture or great customer experience? Belleghem makes it clear that having one without the other isn’t sustainable. In his introduction, he says that
Everything that the Conversation Company does or says must reflect its company culture and its company values. And culture says what the company stands for -- not what it sells.
Easier said than done, right? Especially if you're an established company -- it's not always easy to stay true or reinforce traditional company values. In order to achieve this, Belleghem says the companies must rely on four central pillars: customer experience, conversation, content and collaboration. Sounds familiar, right?
Lest you think this book is just a recapitulation of what you already know, think again. In fact the first few chapters outline the things you and your company probably think make you a conversation company, but are not. To be a conversation company is not a matter of simply checking off boxes and setting up a few social media channels. It's about being in tune to what customers are saying and using its potential to be better informed about products, services and expectations.
Tapping into Your Conversational Potential
Belleghem insists that there is unused conversation potential in every corner of your business. However, companies are usually more preoccupied with content going viral than they are about creating meaningful conversations in which they actually engage and interact with users -- as a result, they fail to invest in the long-term success of a marketing campaign, settling for much less.
For anyone who has ever overheard a coworker talk about a cool new project, or getting debriefed about work out in the field and thought "we need to tell our customers about this" -- you'll understand the need to promote better conversations through storytelling. Much of a company's unused conversations come from those within. The more customers put a face to a name, customer experience becomes real and not just some voice at the end of the phone or email. And when it becomes real, customers start to see the company for what it really is and not what it pretends to be.
Editor's Note: We also suggest you read: The Customer Journey: Content Marketing for B2B Software Buyers
Talk Less, Listen More
Broken into four parts, once you better understand why conversation matters and its key elements, Belleghem tackles how to integrate these elements into company culture, how to manage it and a step by step plan to be used to monitor your conversation company's progress.
Through case studies, we learn that it isn't just what you say, it's what you choose to listen to that can impact the customer experience process. Every company has something to learn from its customers, but having to actively listen to the good, bad and the ugly usually isn't a priority. Instead of trying to outspend competitors, most companies could save time and money if they just listened better. The conversation company "involves its customers in all aspects of company life" Belleghem writes and as such "the customer, consumer or fan is integrated fully into to decision-making process of your organization."
There isn't one organization or industry that can't benefit from The Conversation Company. We all have stories to tell and not enough of us are asking the right questions when it comes to delivering better customer experiences. It's about time we stop making excuses and start reaching our full potential one conversation at a time.