The Conversation Company: Managing The 4 C’s

Today, I discuss the 4 C’s that you can use to manage your Conversation Company. These pillars work perfectly in a culture as described a few weeks ago. It they allow you to fully use the power of the people and the opportunities social media have to offer. Here are the the four pillars:

  • Customer Experience: people love to talk about your service and your products. It is the key driver of consumer conversations.
  • Conversation: the story of my previous book, The Conversation Manager. It is the goal to converse and not communicate. Listen, ask questions, facilitate the conversations and actively take part in them.
  • Content: give people stuff to talk about, but do it in an authentic, positive and relevant way.
  • Collaboration: involve customers in everything your company does. Let them be part of your boardroom and let them be involved in your decision making processes.

WHY THESE FOUR COMPONENTS?

These four new disciplines have not been chosen without careful consideration. A survey of 400 marketeers has shown that companies grow more quickly than their sector rivals when they use these four components in unison. The largest portion of underused conversation potential is also to be found in association with these same four components. By managing them actively, you can optimise that potential. In their different ways, each of the four components can help us to eliminate the paradoxes that we discussed in a previous post. These four pillars will help to build a conversation lever for both your employees and your customers. And this will all take place in keeping with your company culture and company values.

The first pillar, customer experience, is the most important conversation starter. If your employees and your customers feel well treated, they will talk to each other about this fact. By managing customer experience, you are investing in word-of-mouth. You are developing a focus for staff and consumer satisfaction. In this way, service will no longer be seen as a cost, but as an investment in conversations.

Managing the conversations themselves is the second pillar. This involves observing, facilitating and participating in conversations. Your participation in conversations in social media will make your company seem less distant, more human. By asking and answering questions, the interaction between the company and the market will increase.

In addition to the reactive answering of questions, the Conversation Company also adopts an active strategy with regard to content. This strategy is the third pillar. Your content proves that you are an expert in your field. Your company moves away from campaign-based thinking and towards the planning of impactful, conversation-generating content. The final pillar is the pillar of structural collaboration between your company and the market. The customer wants to help you and you will be happy to accept this help. The Conversation Company builds various communities of customers, which help to determine the future of the organisation.

FOUR PILLARS: CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE, CONVERSATION, CONTENT AND COLLABORATION

Customer Experience

The basis of positive conversations about your company is very simple: offer strong products and a decent customer service. These two drive conversations. If you do them well: conversations will boost the business, if your performing just a little below expectations, conversations will decrease the business. It is the foundation of a Conversation Company.

Next to that, there is the challenge to integrate online and offline customer experience. There are still far too few companies that supplement their traditional offline customer service channels with the new online possibilities offered by social media. At the end of 2010 just 6.5% of companies offered online services to their customers. The Conversation Company believes in a total philosophy towards customer experience. The role of social media within this philosophy is to react in real time to people‟s problems and complaints. Companies like KLM and Best Buy (with Twelpforce) demonstrate perfectly how this pillar fits in to the overall picture. Other companies, such as Dell, build mission control centres. These centres are manned 24/7 by staff who answer the online questions put by customers and prospects. No single conversation is left without a response; everyone is helped.

Conversation

The Conversation Company manages online conversations in three stages: observing, facilitating and participating. They start simply by listening to consumer conversations, adding a few relevant comments where necessary. At the same time, the company prepares its content in such a way that it can easily be shared with other interested parties. Clever companies combine these online conversations with their offline activities. The Heineken Champions League stunt makes clear that the effect of small offline events can be magnified many times by social media. Heineken facilitated this process by providing the right content in the right form. Some time ago Kraft had the idea of integrating customer tweets into its offline advertisements. People quickly caught on to this idea and were super-keen to get their quotes in the adverts. As a result, more than 1.5 million tweets were sent to Kraft in the course of the campaign.

Content

Companies should no longer be concerned with the planning of one-off advertising campaigns, but with the global planning and management of their content. Your company must learn to think like the publisher of a newspaper. The paper with the most interesting content is the paper that is read the most. Good content is the ideal way to increase your reach.

We recently released a detailed paper about the content strategy approach of the Conversation Company. Feel free to dive into this paper to learn more about it.

[slideshare id=11438613&doc=asixstepcontentmarketingmodel-120206005134-phpapp01]

Collaboration

The Conversation Company collaborates structurally with its customers. This increases the average level of consumer commitment. It is possible to be fairly creative within this pillar. 4Food, a successful hamburger outlet in Manhattan, draws up a new menu every day with the help of its own customers. Using a series of tablets left on the tables, the diners can put together their own recipe for the „perfect‟ hamburger. Every new concept put on display for the other customers and the best-selling burgers are promoted via Twitter and Facebook. For each burger sold, the recipe-maker receives 25 cents. In a similar vein, Proctor and Gamble has developed Vocalpoint, a community in which 350,000 mothers help to develop new product ideas for the P&G brand. These mothers are also the first users of the new products during the development phase, so that they can provide feedback with regard to possible problems/weaknesses before the product is finally launched on the market.