Socializing business is a revolution in the way we do work. The days when you can control your brand through your website are long gone. Customers are getting information about your brand and products through a number of different channels and if you aren't listening and engaging these channels, you won’t only miss new business opportunities, but will quickly see the competition pass you by.
While some form of social in any enterprise setting is now commonplace, just because you add a social feature to your application doesn't mean that you have transformed into a social business and are succeeding in using social to improve the customer experience.
Companies who have started using technologies to socialize work and customer collaboration are already yielding benefits. Sales and marketing can be improved. Employees can get answers to questions that they thought were impossible to answer. Innovation is being driven not by the few, but the many, including customers.
Committing to the Customer as Focal Point of Action
However, the transformation to a social business comes at a cost and it isn't just the cost of technology. The technologies that support the activities of the social business are still young and integration is still being worked out. Getting employees to collaborate as part of the social business to better understand your customers is not just a matter of turning on the technology. The culture of the organization must change to put customer’s first to think about how to encourage collaborative behavior.
Many businesses have already risen to the challenge of starting to understand how they can most effectively use customers. As the benefits become clear and the challenges become greater, being a social business will be ingrained in all business practices and not an afterthought.
Until then, we must first understand what the challenges and opportunities are to approaching and understanding how your business can turn customers into company evangelists to best understand how to remain productive. Staying focused on the customer not only takes time and dedication; in the social business world it also requires a commitment to action and responsiveness.
Unless your approach to social business is improving business processes and the success of your company, social technologies can quickly become a distraction rather than a new way of doing business. For more global dispersed companies it can compete for employees’ attention and if clear policies aren’t in place, engagement can have the reverse intended effect.
The Switch to Social is Inevitable
On the flip side, the opportunity a social business brings is to constantly learn new ways of doing business, to eliminate bad business practices and introduce new and improving business process. By focusing the energy of these conversations on solving business problems versus on mere socialization, the result is a direct channel for real-time customer interaction, product testing and open dialogue.