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IBM Cloud Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Lori MacVittie, Jnan Dash, Kevin Benedict

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How to Improve Customer Experience in the Social Age

Practitioners at the 2013 Summit on Customer Engagement Provide Surprising Answers

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 20, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- What's the best way to significantly improve customer experience in the Social Age?

"It's one of the great hidden opportunities out there," says Bill Lee, author of The Hidden Wealth of Customers (Harvard Business Review Press, 2012) and President of Customer Reference Forum. "To dramatically improve a customer's experience in today's world, get him or her advocating for you."

Executives, managers and experts from some of the top firms in the world in this area—such as IBM, Teradata-Aprimo, Intel, AmerisourceBergen, Jive Software, Infor, SMART Technologies and others—will show why this is the emerging reality in customer experience and relationship building at the 2013 Summit on Customer Engagement, March 5-6 in Redwood City, Calif. There are still a few seats left.

Turning conventional wisdom on customer experience on its head 
Lee, along with Lisa Arthur, the award-winning Chief Marketing Officer from Teradata-Aprimo, and Katharyn White, VP of Marketing for IBM's Global Business Services, will provide current research on the growing impact customer advocacy can have on improving customer experience.

"That turns conventional wisdom—which says you first create a great customer experience, then ask for the reference, referral, blog post, media interview and the like—on its head. How is it that getting customers to advocate for you improves their customer experience?" he said.

Here's a preview of how firms presenting at the Summit are doing this.

"Focus on customers' successes, not your products and services. In the old world of marketing, firms would ask customers to be interviewed for a success story focusing on the firm's products and services, and distributed as marketing and sales collateral. That's not particularly appealing," says Lee. "No matter how much customer's like your products and services, they'll get tired of this."

Now picture this approach: After ensuring that he is succeeding with your product and service (and correcting any missteps in your delivery), you approach the customer about doing a video, article or joint case study that touts his success.

"It's obvious which has more appeal," says Lee. "And note that the second approach will be more interesting to your prospects and buyers. And by the way, they'll get the idea that your product and services were instrumental to helping the customer succeed."

Help build their reputation 
The corollary to focusing on customers' successes is that firms build their reputation—whether it's in their industries, among their peers or even just internally with their firms. "And reputation," notes Lee, "is a prime component of social capital. Firms are helping customers build their social capital. They love this."

From book reviewers with their own profiles on Amazon.com, to Salesforce.com "MVP" (Most Valuable Professional) customers, increasing customers status among their peers will dramatically improve their experience of being associated with you. At the 2013 Summit, Deena Zenyk of SMART Technologies, an education software and services firm, will explain how the firm designates its leading advocates "SMART Exemplary Educators," or "SEEs," who enjoy exceptional status with their peers in the firm's customer community. SMART reckons that the resulting robust advocacy and thought leadership the SEEs provide result in an additional $130,000 in value generated per SEE—over and above anything they purchase themselves.

Help them find or expand community 
At the Summit, Teradata-Aprimo's Arthur will show how communities will be the great disrupter in the new marketing, fueling much deeper customer experiences and, concurrently, more powerful customer advocacy. She'll show that this is no fad, but an important long-term trend.

Also, Sydney Sloan of Jive Software will reveal how the firm's customer support community creates remarkable synergy with Jive's customer reference program. The community provides a platform to give references visibility and status with a large group of their peers. Top references, for example, receive badges, VIP recognition and other distinctions—the very best are called "Jive Champions"—all of which create exceptional emotional attachment, the gold standard for a rich customer experience. That increases not only their loyalty, but also their tendency to advocate. Plus, the presence and visibility of references in the community encourages more community members to become advocates themselves.

About Bill Lee 
Lee is the world's foremost authority on customer advocacy and engagement. Forbes Online columnist Dorie Clark called his book, The Hidden Wealth of Customers (Harvard Business Review Press, 2012), "one of the most insightful business books I've read this year." His firms, Customer Reference Forum and Lee Consulting Group, provide educational, research and consulting services on customer strategy, advocacy and community building.

About Bill Lee: http://www.customerreferenceforum.com/about_leadership.php

About the 2013 Summit on Customer Engagement: http://www.customerreferenceforum.com/event2013

About Customer Reference Forum: http://www.customerreferenceforum.com/index.php

SOURCE Bill Lee

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