December 27, 2012

Being customer-driven means sharing power, and that’s a good thing

BY Shirley Robinson IN Customer Service One Comment

We at karma are all about you, the customers.  Isn’t that obvious?  We’re a CRM after all.  Of course, being a CRM isn’t the same as being customer-driven.  You are the focus of our company — your experiences, both good and bad, help shape and improve our system.  Solving your problems doesn’t only help you, it helps your peers AND us.  We love hearing from all of you.  When you are willing to work with us on your issues, we’re able to make karma better.  We’ve promoted this spirit of cooperation from the beginning, and we couldn’t be happier with where we are today and where we’re heading tomorrow.  There should be no question what is at the philosophical and operational center of karma. The answer is simple: fostering genuine relationships with all of you, and creating new ones.  And that means sharing ownership of the company’s public face.

Customer service isn’t the new marketing:  they’re part of the same process

This concept of being customer-driven can be applied pretty broadly, and it’s been on our minds a lot recently.  Denis Pombriant wrote an excellent article for SearchCRM on December 17 (“Social media sets the stage for improving customer service”), and our founder John Paul Narowski felt compelled to comment:

To us at least, customer service and marketing not only employ a lot of the same channels nowadays, they are also under the same big umbrella of outreach. The people we want to have ongoing conversations with about our brand and products are much the same people we want to assist and impress with customer service. And really great customer service is its own form of marketing anyway; it’s communicating with existing customers about our values as a customer-driven company in the way we help them with their frustrations. Then when they have a great experience, they mobilize for us.

And indeed, you have been incredible allies to us!  But we have to be mindful that it works both ways.  As Peter Stark said, if we don’t bend our ear to our customers, they’ll find a way of making their displeasure known, usually publicly.

Whether in ketchup or in digital ink, the truth will out

And they should!  We as a company have a much bigger sphere of influence thanks to social media, but we share that sphere and its power with our customers.  Our marketing isn’t about hard selling or trickery.  It’s about reaching out to like-minded people who vibe with what we do and could benefit from it.  By the same token, customer service is about widening our channel of communication with the people we’ve established a connection with.  It’s all part of one big process of relationship-building.

What do you think?

What innovative approaches have you taken in opening and growing a dialogue with your customers?  What missteps have you seen that made you cringe?  Share your tales of triumph or disaster in the comments!

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