Are You Really Connecting With Your Customers?

Here are some key questions to ask yourself about how to connect with your customers in today's digital age:
  • Are we making it easy for customers to find us in their digital lives?
  • Do we offer services and content to customers on their schedule, not ours?
  • Do our Web services run well on any browser, smartphone, or digital interface?
  • Can our customers use their phones and mobile devices to find us, learn about us and pay us?
  • Are we responding to customers online in a timely manner?
  • Are we giving our biggest supporters the opportunity to connect with us and champion our business online?
  • Has the conversation among our customers become a vital part of our business?
Depending on how you answer these questions, you may need to also ask yourself these questions as well:
  • What assumptions about our business do we need to reconsider?
  • How does our culture need to change?
  • What new skills and capacities do we need to foster?
According to author David L. Rogers, "to thrive in our digital age, businesses need to reimagine our customers: not as a mass of isolated individual actors but as networks--with each customer as a node linking and dynamically interacting with each other and with us."
In Roger's book, The Network Is Your Customer, he offers delves deeply into five strategies for how to thrive in a digital age:
  • Access
  • Engage
  • Customize
  • Connect
  • Collaborate
Today's customers, explains Rogers, seek to:
  • Freely access digital data, content and interaction as quickly, easily and flexibly as possible.
  • Engage with digital content that is sensory, interactive, and relevant to their needs.
  • Customize their experiences by choosing and modifying a wide assortment of information, products and services.
  • Connect with one another by sharing their ideas and opinions in text, videos, and social links.
  • Collaborate on collective projects and goals through open platforms.
Because of these new customer behaviors, Rogers suggests businesses may need to form new units within their companies to have dedicated teams for:
  • Interacting with customers using Facebook, Twitter or discussion forums.
  • Capturing, assessing and directing ideas from customers in order to feed them into product innovation and business process improvement.
  • Generating regular content for customer networks that is neither traditional advertising nor traditional public relations.
Rogers' book is ideal for all businesses and nonprofits and includes more than 100 case studies that I found interesting and thought-provoking in the advance copy he sent me.

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