Friday, 11 December 2009

The Customer Revolution

It was Thomas Jefferson that said "every generation needs a revolution". We are fortunate to be living in a time of enormous technological and social change. 10 years ago most of us would have:

·         Watched advertisements on TV
·         Asked friends or read reviews in magazines
·         Bought goods and services on the High Street
·         Bought goods and services through intermediaries
·         Paid the asking price
·         Fixed problems by re-reading the manual
·         Queued and complained to call centres

The speed of change in the last 10 years has been breathtaking. Broadband Internet has rampaged through our business and social lives, changing industries from top to bottom. 

One of the most striking changes has been the total shift in power to the customer. Information is no longer a scare resource, price is no longer a differentiator, bad service or poor value for money is now brutally exposed and multiplied through our social networks for all to see. We are living through a customer revolution. Customer's are using their blogs, social networks and consumer review sites to make their voices heard and to leverage the power of the collective. For example:

·         Thousands of students rallied on Facebook to successfully "stop the great HSBC graduate rip-off"
·         Patrick Askins from Warwick found national fame on the BBC national news after his video complaint about British Telecom was watched by thousands of people on YouTube
·         Jeff Jarvis' "Dell Sucks" blog post was read by thousands of people who agreed, promoting a complete change in customer engagement strategy from Dell

Some companies have embraced the revolution. They are participating in conversations with the customers and leveraging direct feedback to design better products and processes. They have reduced their advertising and customer service spend by leveraging their customer and partner networks and they are creating win/win relationships.

·         At the point of writing Dell has gathered 13,137 ideas from it's customers on it's Ideas Storm site, of which it has implemented 389. The company's @Delloutlet Twitter account has over 600k followers and has sold over $3m
·         Ikea's photo-tagging campaign on Facebook created a viral following of customer advocates
·         Aleksandr Orlov, a fictional Meerkat, and face of the UK car insurance price comparison site  has 620,000 fans on Facebook 
·          Even president Obama is widely reported to have leverage social media to listen, respond and orchestrate his "customers" during the US Presidential election 

Other companies simply don't get it. They view new technologies as a way to automate the broken, inward looking ways of the past. They expose their lack of customer insight by bombarding their best customers with irrelevant spam and Marketing interruptions.  They are internally siloed and work on the basis of short term transactions rather than conversations or relationships.

The purpose of this blog is simply to offer a commentary on the customer revolution.  I will share stories and anecdotes on the revolutionaries, the targets of the revolution and the tools of the revolution and I will invite you to comment and fill in any gaps!

Customers of the world unite!

Disclaimer and disclosure - although I work for Capgemini, this is a personal rather than a corporate blog. My opinions reflect my own views rather than necessarily those of my employer. I carry no vested interest in any particular technology. For a full look at my background please feel free to view my Linkedin profile which contains full information on my previous roles.

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The Customer Revolution Blog by Laurence Buchanan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
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