A few days ago, I had a less than desirable experience with my electricity provider, Washington Gas and Energy Services.
They assumed I wanted a full year contract with a $150 payment penalty for early termination.
Old Business Practices, Social Business Practices
This type of business practice may have been suited to a world where consumers were not empowered. It’s not a great fit in a world of Social network-empowered customers.
In a non-networked world, damage to a brand’s reputation is limited to a handful of people. It’s too expensive for a given individual to spread the word.
None of this is news.
The challenge in a Social world for large brands is that what they don’t know about their customer’s experience -at any given touchpoint- can and will hurt.
Social Extends Across Silos
In the case of WGES, what Marketing doesn’t know about my experience with Customer Service has a direct impact on Word of Mouth, brand reputation, and referenceability. It also reduces the impact of the ROI of their direct mail efforts, as in the case of the brochure I received which I promptly put in the recycling bin.
You’ve seen hundreds of these examples. Cross-silo lack of coordination is nothing new.
What is new is the impact on the business from the collaboration inefficiencies.
When a customer has an experience and shares it in Social, the impact may be nothing…or it may be huge, as BPI found out in the meat processing industry.
Adapting to Social: What the Enterprise Needs
The Altimeter Group recognizes this massive challenge to global brands and that’s why they’ve made ”The Adaptive Organization” one of their research themes this year and rightly so.
Organizations continue to operate in industrial-era silos that are more appropriate for the factory floor than a digital world.
A chaotic marketplace — with rapidly shifting social, cultural, and technological disruptions — is forcing organizations to respond, whether ready or not…
Organizations that adapt their organizational and leadership structures will be able to not just manage, but also anticipate and leverage these disruptions to stay relevant.
And the converse of that is true as well. Organizations that do NOT adapt will not be able to manage or anticipate the disruptions.
Altimeter asks the right question:
What’s required inside an organization to make these changes — including new ways to work in decentralized, bottom-up structures, and the supporting roles, policies, structures, processes, and tools?
We work with some of the world’s most global, social brands and what they are telling us is that there are two paths in this adaptation. One that definitely won’t work. One that should.
What Enterprises Need and Don’t Need to do Social@Scale
In the “What We Don’t Need” Group…
1. Better individual technology (so-called Consumerization of IT)
While employees in their personal lives are getting better and better technology and have higher expectations for their capabilities in Social, the solution can only be done enterprise-wide.
2. Maverick business units
It’s true that any LOB can bypass IT entirely by contracting with a SaaS solution of their own, but that’s not going to result in a Universal Profile of the Social Customer, something that would have helped WGES.
And in the “What We Need” Group….
What global brands tell us they need is a way to think and be Social across the enterprise….to be Social at Scale. We like to call it “Social@Scale”.
- A Unified View of the Customer to see that an account number belongs to a caller who is the blogger on Twitter…all supported by a true multi-channel platform.
- An Operational Framework that crosses functions to provide clarity around responsibilities to the customer and roles within the organization….sitting on top of a multi-function platform that supports the plan.
- A Governance Framework with automated and manual workflow to ensure that the right messages (e.g. “customer is unhappy with automatic renewal”) get to the right people in the right departments (e.g customer service escalation, marketing, social center of excellence) at the right time with the right level of access and permissions.
Now for the Good News
It IS possible and profitable to do Social at Scale and we are seeing some top brands make significant headway.
Take for example, GM.
By aligning their functional teams on a single platform, preparing an operational plan (they call it a “swim lane” document), mapping their business structure to the governance framework, GM was able to reduce Social Customer Service response time from 12 hours to 90 minutes. (Read the full article here about GM).
As Rebecca Harris of GM said, “we weren’t using any of the same systems.”
Now, her teams can track metrics make assignments, archive conversations, and make sure two people aren’t handling the same case at once.
Adaptation is the Pre-requisite
The Adaptive Organization is a pre-requisite to thriving in the new Social Economy. It doesn’t guarantee survival.
We’re seeing companies like Cisco, Virgin America, and Samsung not only re-orient their businesses around Social and across silos, but they are putting the systems and processes in place today to engage at scale enterprise-wide.
The answer to Altimeter’s question?
The Adaptive Organization must think, act, and be Social@Scale.