There is a real opportunity for small businesses to be leading the way in driving connections with their customers, and ultimately growing their business through collaboration and innovation. By Carlos Mora.
The power of social collaboration within the workplace is clear. But what if you could replicate your internal team collaboration to collaborate with your partners and your customers?
Today, customers expect to be able to interact with their favourite vendors, share experiences with other customers and find the information they need. In the mobile and social world of today, they expect to be able to do this from anywhere, at any time. Across the multiple channels available, when a customer interacts with your business they are also looking for an experience which is easy, doesn’t require too many steps, and allows them the quickest path to getting what they want and need in the shortest period of time.
With this is mind, businesses need to deepen the relationships they have with their customers, understand their rapidly changing needs and connect them directly to their business. When trying to compete with enterprises at the big end of town, deeper and more meaningful connections with customers are key.
With a secure business social network, a company can now connect with its customers and partners like never before. In fact, savvy SME business owners and operators are already bridging the gap between company and customer, creating communities that connect members directly with each other – and with relevant content, data and business processes.
A customer community brings the best of traditional and social customer interaction together – the data centric experiences of logging in to access information and process transactions, is enhanced by the social element of customers being able to collaborate with one another. This not only has the benefit of your customers championing your brand, but can also deliver you tremendous insight.
Not only do you have the ability to crowd source knowledge, but also innovation. Monitoring and listening to what your customers are saying about your company, especially what they are calling on to be improved, has never been more important for successful SMEs.
But even better is acting on this information and executing ideas suggested by your customer community. Your customers feel valued, trusted and a part of your company evolution – creating loyalty, positive word of mouth, happy customers and ultimately, leads to new ones.
Behind every application is a customer
Hosting your customer service technology on a cloud platform that makes it as easy to access via a mobile device as it is on a desktop, means that you can engage with your community anywhere, at any time. Your most valued customers get the service they deserve from each other, your knowledge base or from an agent, as and when they need it.
Empowering your customers to help each other can also reduce support costs, and save you time and resource. For SMEs looking to compete with larger, more established players in the market, investing in technology in this way can make you look bigger than you actually are.
The way in which customers not only choose, but expect and demand to interact with business continues to evolve. The goal for SMEs must now be to place the customer squarely at the centre of their company, and be ready to interact with them at any time, from anywhere.
Carlos Mora is Collaboration Principal at salesforce.com APAC.
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