Our contributing experts came from all corners of the Web Engagement Management world week, but there was a particular focus on really getting to know today's customer and their expectations. Read on for tips on handling modern challenges, as well as a few bits on web-channel stragegies and multi-channel commerce. 

An Overview of the Social Customer

MICHAEL BRITO (@BRITOPIAN): We are all social customers. Since the beginning of modern day society, we have always shared our thoughts, opinions, likes, dislikes and criticisms about the brands that we love and the brands we hate. The difference today is that our voices and the conversations that we have with others travel well beyond the living room. They are now being amplified on the social web like never before.

The social customer interacts with business and brands differently based on their emotions and how they are feeling on a given day. One day they might be a collaborative customer, and the next day they might be with a competitor. Much of this depends on a brands reaction, or not. All social customers are different but here are a few ways to make some sense out of who they are and how they act.


Customer Experience Challenges: Why Maintaining an Outside-in Approach is Tougher than it Seems

HANK BARNES (@HBATADOBE) With a growing number of companies and organizations striving to deliver superior customer experiences, “outside-in” is becoming a popular mantra. On the surface it seems obvious: organizations ought to put themselves in their customers’ shoes in order to understand how to best serve them. This appears especially straight-forward considering today’s advanced technology that allows organizations to track consumer preferences and communicate with them any time at any place. Yet if it’s really so easy, why do consumers continue to have frustrating interactions with companies that leave them feeling ambivalent at best or completely fed up at worst?

Perhaps you’ve been stranded at an airport facing lengthy flight delays with no status updates or notion of when you’ll make it home. Or you’ve had your inbox bombarded with completely irrelevant promotions. Or maybe you’ve had your patience tried by your bank’s counter-intuitive and dysfunctional website. In one way or another, we’ve all been there.

The problem is that while outside-in concepts are easy to embrace and in some cases implement, they can be tricky to sustain. Driving factors include a lack of customer centricity in core operational values, misuse of technology and misunderstandings about context awareness. The good news is that there are steps organizations can take to get on the outside-in track, and make sure they stay on it.


The Customer is King, Not Content, and he's Switching Channels

MARTIJN VAN BERKUM (@NJITRAM): Cross-channel marketing sounds simple enough; engage with your customers across different channels. Personalize your message; adapt it to your customers’ intentions, behavior and thoughts. Although in theory this sounds simple, in practice it’s nothing more than a revolution.

The challenge is that to truly do cross-channel marketing, the focus should be on the customer, not on your product or content. The customer should be the center point of attention, and organizations, processes and technology need to radically adapt to realize this.


Are We Tilting At Engagement?

ROBERT ROSE (@ROBERT_ROSE): So, that new engagement metric you’ve come up with suddenly pulls the TV show you are marketing from #50 to #3, based on using a more comprehensive, multi-platform audience rating system. A sign of true success … or delusion?

Do you watch the TV Show Glee!? While it might seem counter-intuitive given its “popularity” — the answer it seems is mostly “no.” Earlier this year, Glee finished the 2010-2011 broadcast television season in 43rd place. This puts it right smack dab in the middle of the road for broadcast TV. Add in cable television, and Glee drops to 55th place.

So, let’s say you’re the “marketing person” in charge of getting Glee renewed. And, you need to convince advertisers that somehow putting their money into Glee is better than putting it into the 42+ options that rank higher. What would you do? Well, what if I told you that you could walk into the office of the people in charge of such things and claim that Glee is not only a top 20 show — but that it ranks #2 of all television shows — and only lags slightly behind the number one show — American Idol?


Dynamic Partnerships Will Be a Necessity to Local Authorities' Web Channel Strategy

JENS SORENSEN (@JENSKSORENSEN): Selecting a good WCM system and publishing an engaging website is not by itself going to get public sector bodies where they now need to be. The measurement of a successful website is now and will continue to be, the extent to which it effectively delivers services and this is where the role of the solution supplier can become a significant and valuable differentiator.


Multichannel Commerce is Moving at a Fast Rate - Are You Truly Ready For It?

KEES DE VOS: The world of multichannel commerce is a very fascinating one at the moment. Just like an old steam locomotive, the multichannel train has taken some time to gain speed, but now that it’s moving, there’s no stopping it.

It may even have gone over the top of the mountain to careen down, just a bit too fast, slightly out of control… an exciting ride no doubt, but are we doing enough to keep it on track?

I decided to take a step back and look at the foundations of multichannel — it may not be as exciting as m- or f-commerce, but quite necessary all the same.