Using digital to delight your customers

Customer centricity in business the art of making the customer the centre of decisions and processes in your business. Steering away from a product focus which aims to produce and sell products, a customer centric business looks at the needs of customers and solves them. The product literally sells itself because it solves customers problems or speaks to their needs as a consumer. Obviously its key to understand consumers in order to meet their needs and over the last year we are noticing some very clear trends among customers which are opening the door to better digital customer experiences. Humanising the company or brand People are getting tired of corporate greed and the quest for profits. Not that they are against people making profits, they just want to understand why. It’s the why and how that’s making the difference today. People want to see the personality of the brand, speak with people in the company and see important values like honesty, transparency and vision lead to trust. Social media remains a major force in communicating to customers on a daily basis and has changed the business landscape for almost every single consumer industry. Sainsbury recently saw the power of a social media conversation sparked by a 3 and a half year old. The young girl wrote into Sainsbury to suggest that their Tiger Bread looked more like a Giraffe. After social media channels found the letter the public response was overwhelming and the company decided to listen to its customers...

What does it take to succeed in a Digital World?

One of the biggest game changers in business (and life) this century has been the introduction of the internet. The internet created a world of connection, a world where its easier to connect and faster to connect. We’re connected to information and people which has lead to business moving quicker, consumers changing faster, messages spreading easier and business launching in less time than ever before. Today is the age where a new innovative competitor can rise within a year by tapping into the power of these connections, changing the way you do business tomorrow. We have seen this with Amazon, Zappo’s, Google, Facebook, Wikipedia, eBay and many other digital businesses. The connection economy, succeeded the information era about eight years ago with the invent of social media. Social media showed us it was possible to create and manage relationships online. In fact, it not only showed us we can but it helped us realise that this is something people have wanted for so long. A better way to connect. So its fair to say that any business that has utilised social media to connect with customers has done well recently, but many have been burnt by the social media world. Many business have declined using social media to connect with customers and have focused on providing strong mobile channels to deliver services and improve customer satisfaction. Almost every business will see benefits from digital connections between themselves and their customers and/or employees, but not every business needs to engage with...

Digital Publishing shows promise of finding loyal customers

Most printing companies and print media houses are trying to work out how to find there rapidly disappearing customer base. We are all aware that the declining customer base in print medium are moving to the digital realm but we are unsure how to meet them there. Customers exposed to online media are wanting more from publishers The online consumer is changing because of the value the internet offers. Their expectations in the digital medium are much higher than in print and its simply because they have been exposed to richer media online than offline. Digital publishers need to begin to focus on how to create rich media experiences in the digital realm. These experiences would need to transcend social connections, personalising content, combining image and video content, and should not be device dependent. New digital publications are already seeing good retention rates from smart phone users. The Wall Street Journal has this to say: While print circulation continues to decline, news publishers have some good news in the Localytics report. News apps like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal saw the highest retention rate, with 44% of users. Gaming (e.g., Angry Birds), Entertainment (e.g., Netflix) and Sports (e.g., ESPN ScoreCenter) all had retention rates between 33% and 36%. Lifestyle apps, which include both e-commerce and life event planning tools, had the worst user retention, with just 15% opening an app 11 times or more and 30% opening an app just once. So with rich media digital...

Mobile and Social Strategy for African Development

Over the past year or so I have been working with a number of companies looking to expand their business into Africa. This is probably one of the most exciting areas of business growth because of the uniques challenges and breadth of work involved. The return, without a doubt, is great for any business who can gain a strong foothold in the next few years. One of the biggest challenges I have seen has been the lack of infrastructure in Africa to support existing westernised business systems and processes. An example of this is if you would like to distribute in Africa, you will need to build the road to your customer in many cases. I have also noticed that the digital engagement in Africa, especially in mobile is growing stronger and stinger everyday. In February this year I spoke at a conference win Nigeria and received one of the best twitter responses I have ever received. More people followed , engaged in conversation, retweeted and promoted my presentation on twitter than any South African conference I had spoken at. This fascinates me and suggests that a keenness and desire to adopt mobile digital technologies could mean that Africans will be ready for digital distribution way before we think. So often a market takes time to mature into one ready to purchase online. It takes a consumer time to trust the reliability of a digital product and the company providing it. I believe that Africa will be ready far sooner...

Email is where knowledge goes to die

I am no DIY professional, in fact I am the opposite. The other day I found myself tring to rewire a household plug using a kitchen knife as a screwdriver. Half the problem with my DIY skills is that I don’t have the right tools to do the job so I end up ‘making a plan’ to get the job done. In much the same way I have begun to recognise that in business we often are found making a plan with tools that are not right for the job. Email is a great communication tool, partly because its simple enough to use and partly because everyone uses it. Just because everyone is using it does not mean that it will work for every type of business communication. Email is perfect for communication an idea in a single direction and getting feedback, for handling official conversations and to forward our friends inane humour (please note my sarcasm in the last point) The challenge is that email is so often used to distribute and store useful information. This is where email fails, it does not have an organisation structure, or search tool flexible and intuitive enough to manage this information correctly. Have you ever wondered what happened to that link you were sent on email, or to the proposal your agency sent through a few weeks ago? What about the first concept business plan that has changed so many time your entire team is using multiple versions of the wrong document...

How social media is changing the role of journalism

In their latest book Blur: How to Know What’s True in the Age of Information Overload by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel, these two men explore the new role of journalism that has been created due to the way that people aggregate news today. Social media has opened up a world where peers and colleagues decide what news is valuable and important. Articles that are shared most by your friends on Facebook show up in your Facebook news feed and Google+ highlights search content in Google that has been shared by your Google circles. Most social networks use this algorithm to highlight news. The higher the ‘share’ volume the more popular the article and the more exposure it gets on the networks. The problem is that these articles may be popular but they are not necessarily providing verified facts about the news subject. Twitter has gone a long way with their new Twitter iPhone app by identifying trends in the most tweeted keywords and then linking that trend (or news item) to a reputable news source like CNN or BBC. This bridges the gap by highlighting the most ‘shared’ content on twitter and providing the best, most reputable source of news available. Two thumbs up to Twitter. Aside from the steps Twitter has taken, most networks have become aggregators of popular content instead of good, reliable and verified journalistic content. This presents two scenarios that need to be addressed: 1) News readers need to learn how to apply journalist type skills in...

Navigating the world of social media in business

There is a big difference between launching a social media campaign and reinventing your business to take hold of social media advantages. Social media campaigns normally find their place inside the marketing budget and can be conceptualised, executed and measured relatively quickly. A social business reinvention take time to conceptualise, it needs to become a part of strategic direction and the overall business plan. In most cases these reinventions take considerable time and investment to navigate successfully. When looking at a social reinvention I would suggest navigating your business in the following manner. People connection Start with how the reinvention will impact the people in your team. Think about what benefits your employees and customers will experience from the reinvention. Find the ‘value point’ that makes the need for reinvention apparent. Social reinvention is all about adapting business to meet and connect with people better. This takes places internally and externally in marketing, knowledge management, recruitment, and many more aspects of business. Technology integration Once the ‘value point’ to people has been established we can now take the brief to the technology. The reason we don’t start with the technology is because the technology should not dictate the strategic direction. Just because something is possible with technology does not mean that it is a strategic fit with your business goals. At this point it is important to allow your technology experts freedom to explore the possibilities. They may be able to find ways to enhance you idea. Just be sure...

How social screening can help the recruitment process [infographic]

A while ago I wrote an article on how the recruitment industry was shifting due to social media technology. I would like to add to that conversation by talking about social screening. Social screening is the process of searching for potential candidates in social websites like Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter and “checking them out.” This is a hotly debated topic at the moment and I have been working tertiary education institutions recently to educate students about the importance of knowing what image they portray online. The infograhic in this post reveals how social screening is becoming a popular trend in the recruitment industry. Social screening allows employers to find out information from candidates that is often difficult to discover through the interview process. These discoveries can be both negative and positive. The positive side of social screening: They get a feel for the personality of the candidate The can verify the qualification of the candidate Creative people often use social platforms to express their creativity Employers can get an idea of the communication skills of the candidate Social Sites like Linkedin can provide further recommendations for the candidate The negative side of social screening: Inappropriate photographs can raise warning flags about the personality of the candidate Drug abuse could become apparent Bad mouthing previous employers can show the candidates work ethic Identify poor communication skills The candidate may be sharing confidential business information of previous or current employers

How Tesco used QR Codes to increase online shopping

I love it when clever people come up with simple ideas that change the way the world works. This example we will look at today is a subway advertisement that turned a South Korean subway into a supermarket. The execution is so simple. Life size banners that display supermarket brands with QR codes on each item. Scan the item and get them delivered to your door by the end of the day. The idea was sparked by the need to create more sales without opening more stores. After extensive research into the market Tesco was able to see the opportunity to utilise smart phone technology to increase its online sales potential. The consumer will take to this idea because the technology is so simple (inSouth Korea at least) for them to use. The concept works becuase it relies on redundant QR code technology to execute it.It also works because it make an intangible internet experience tangible through the physical advert. This example from Tesco paints a clear picture of the shifts that retailers are going to face in the future: The retail industry can expect powerful competition from online sales channels. Especially if these channels are connecting with consumers in such tangible ways, like in subways while I wait for my train. Brands are still important to consumers. Make sure you make those brands visible to the consumer. Note that there are still a number of juices to choose from displayed on the “shelf”. Convenience is king! Make sure this...

My Top Three Social Media Lessons for Business

I have been involved in social media for the past few years and enjoy looking at new ways that social media can be adopted in business. I am a bit of a dabbler and over the past few months I have been researching a few ideas and wanted to share the outcomes with you. 1) Real life events are social media’s best friend We have been running a number of social media campaigns this year for a number of different size companies and brands. In most of these campaigns we are using competitions to create energy around the brand and introduce the brand to new consumers online. What has been interesting though has been how effective it has been to couple social media platforms alongside real life events. These events are enhanced by a competition or journalism of the event. Almost like the energy that a good MC brings to an event. We have found that when executed correctly and energetically the company or brand profiles gain in numbers of followers and the level of interaction with fans. An example of this was when I attended the Social Media World Forum a few months ago. I endeavored to blog throughout the event to tell my readers and the event guests what was taking place at the event and my opinion on it. I also made a point to tweet frequently throughout the 2 day event and became very visible in the twittersphere over the Social Media World Forum. The end...

An interview with Deloitte about Social Media ROI

I had the priviledge of interviewing David Graham and Andre Hugo from Deloitte in how they use social media to achieve strategic objectives. The interview revealed some fascinating insight into how social media can be used in a business to business context to promote business, reduce recruitment cost, innovate products, manage intellectual capital and build brand eminence. I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did. What was the catalyst that caught your attention and started your journey in marketing Deloitte with Social Media? Within Deloitte of Tomorrow (Internal Innovation Program) we identified Digital as a trend about 3 years ago. Deloitte Digital is a service line that converts Deloitte intellectual property in applications and sells these applications as software as a service. The best example of this is the Deloitte Leadership Academy http://www.deloitte.la/welcome/. As part of the market testing and commercialisation of the Deloitte Digital business case a number of our clients and executives started asking for our advice on how to deal with “Social media”, we looked at the landscape and quickly determined that we needed to have our house view before advising our clients on their approach. As a result we developed a strategy to address the 5 strategic objectives identified below: Reduce the cost of recruitment Reduce the time to develop Innovative solutions and new service offerings for DOT Increase the storage of intellectual knowledge capital within a central tool Reduce the cost of training Increase our Brand and Eminence in the market...

Social Media Bubble

There is a great deal of conversation around the social media bubble at the moment. If you have not heard already, the social media bubble is a topical debate about whether social media websites like Facebook, Groupon, Linkedin and Twitter a actually worth the values that they have been estimated at. The values are outlined in the infographic below. The concern is that if they are overvalued then we may be repeating history when we experienced the technology bubble with many start-ups going bust after securing large start-up investment deals. Is this a valid concern or are we just getting into another stream of hype? I discuss this in more detail here on the TomorrowToday Blog

Bizcommunity shows an understanding of Social Business Shifts

Social Business is the art of leveraging social technology (like social media) to create a more valuable product, working environment or business. I recently had the chance to look into Bizcommunity’s latest upgrade to their website and have been suitably impressed. Bizcommunity has built a strong personal interaction element into the new website that has opened the door to turning Bizcommunity from an industry news website to a networking platform. Inviting people to participate with personal profiles Bizcommunity has opened the invitation for people to participate in the network by allowing people to add personal profiles in much the same way as Facebook. People can also add their Twitter Profile to their profile which allows a stream of updates in much the same way as Linkedin used to do. Managing status updates Bizcommunity allows you to follow users like on Twitter and updates your status accordingly. Although they allow you to post from Bizcommunity to Twitter it seems that they have not allowed the reverse to happen yet. This is one downside that I see in the new website. What does Bizcommunity Understand? It is evident by the business shift that Bizcommunity is making that they have understood that Social Technology needs to be adopted into their business model in order to survive in the New World of Work. Industry News websites like Bizcommunity are great because they add credibility to the industry but they risk losing their grip on being the number one resource to connect with your industry,...

The biggest benefit to monitoring online reputation and sentiment

Standard Bank did a detailed presentation around their listening strategies online. The presentation was very interesting and went into detail about crunching the stats in such a way to get valuable, workable results. Now for a few of the key points: Since this article I have been able to inteview Standard Bank about their approach to social media. Click here to see the interview Tailoring your offering on different social media platforms This was spoken about in the previous article but it deserves being repeated. Different networks have different environments. Standard Bank has spent time listening to their audience and have found that their Facebook Fans love competitions, fun and social activity whereas their Twitter community is demanding responses and conversation around customer service. Have a focus and purpose The next point made in the presentation was to have a purpose when engaging your audience. The point is simple, when you don’t have a focus the temptation is to answer everyone. This leads to picking the wrong fights and losing out in the long run. In addition, a clear focus will help you to effectively achieve the right results in your customer engagements. Corporate legalism hinders transparency This is a tough challenge with any big business. Due to consumer protection acts and laws that govern how company’s interact with the public. In the same way that social media has not changed consumers it has not changed the company either. This means that mud-slinging fights between consumers and companies...

Managing Social Media CRM (Nimble Review)

The impact that social media management has on business CRM processes has always been a big question amongst my peers. I have personally found that my Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin Mail inbox’s are as lucrative communication vehicles as my email inbox. Most of my new business deals have been secured through my blog or social media channels. On top of this my clients have continued to be interested in contacting me through social media channels rather than on email or telephone. The challenge for me here has been not missing any communication from clients. I am pretty good at getting back to everyone who contacts me, however I don’t check my Facebook account every 10mins for a new message (contrary to popular belief). Now I could put my Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin accounts on “push notifications’ to my iPhone but I have found this to be a rather ineffective way to live from a productivity point of view. I find that this made my communication methods stressful, and time consuming (more than they needed to be). The end result is a need for tools to help us manage our Social Media CRM. > Welcome to Nimble! Nimble has come the closest to managing social media and email communication in one dashboard view. It also helps manage your contacts and consolidate their social profiles. Another nice touch is being able to link your google calendar to the account. I found Nimble to be very useful by bringing together my four main...

Social Business Wages War on Hierarchy

Almost every business older than ten years runs on a hierarchical structure. This structure has equipped businesses for ages, making sure they are accountable, profitable and running smoothly. This hierarchical structure is under attack when looking at social business. To refresh your memory, social business is the process of taking all that is good in social media technology and using it to better your business. Social media technology can help organisations improve collaboration, increase employee engagement, break down silo’s and create a friendlier environment for generation y. Why social business challenges a hierarchy structure is that it removes it completely. There is no hierarchy in social media. A person is a person with a profile, an idea is as good as it is (not where it comes from) and respect is earned from what you put in not what title you hold. John Kotter recently presented an idea on HBR that suggests business may need to take on a network structure in the future. I believe that this network structure would be a great asset to the business looking to social business practices. The set of this article is an excerpt from John’s article: But 20th-century, capital “H” Hierarchy (a sort of hardware) and the managerial processes that run on it (a sort of software) do not handle transformation well. And in a world with an ever-increasing rate of change, it is impossible to thrive without timely transformations. The data, case studies, and personal anecdotes to this effect abound. The...

Digital Business Shifts in Recruitment

As the Internet makes a bigger impact on the recruitment industry we are starting to see recruitment agencies enter into a second state of disruption in South Africa. The first state of disruption that the recruitment industry experienced due to the internet lead to the creation of Job’s Boards and career websites like Career Junction. Some campaniles struggled,  and still struggle, to make this transition in business as their industry started to take on a very digital approach. The second state of disruption facing the recruitment industry comes in the form of social technology. Recruitment agencies now find themselves in a stage of their digital evolution that forces them to harness social media websites and online headhunting strategies to find new candidates. I believe that the biggest shift between these two states is the role that digital technology plays in each stage. Finding and Processing Applicants In the first state digital technology allowed recruitment agencies to manage their influx of applications for jobs they had on the market. A strong digital presence would also have increased the number of applications for each job. This data was then processed and matched to the job specification criteria. Once the match was made consultants often took the candidate into the interview stages of the recruitment process. The biggest challenge in this state was the management of MORE. Job boards and the likes, created huge volumes of online applications and instead of more quality, the truth was was that the value often stopped at...

Recruitment Shifts from Social Media

The recruitment industry in South Africa looks like it is on the rise for the first time in two and a half years. Human Resources South Africa reported “employment grew by 5.6% during March.”As business slowly starts to find its feet again after a rough few years in the global economy recruiters are looking for good people to take their companies forward. “The aim and challenges of recruitment in South Africa is to put the right person, at the right place, at the right time in the organisation. By doing this the company should hopefully improve their organisational performance and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the company ” (Human Resources South Africa) What are the trends being used that are shifting the way the recruitment industry works? There are two obvious and high impact trends that have risen out of social media and online technology that are worth looking at: Move Towards Headhunting Wall Street Journal makes an interesting observation that social media has made headhunting easier and cheaper. Networking websites like Linkedin have opened the door to finding people based on expertise, experience and CV. We are able to see immediate recommendations of people we are thinking about hiring and can make more comprehensive decisions about people before starting the interview process. On a global scale we see business looking to decrease their job board subscriptions and move towards using social technology like Facebook and Linkedin to find great employees. The general consensus being that jobs boards create too many...

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