“Business executives and IT executives need to spend more time thinking about how to make online interactions consistent with real-life interactions they have with their customers.”
by Christopher Sowa, July 2013
With more information and interactions moving online, the world is becoming more and more like a small town. Information about you is available to those who are geographically distant, and suddenly, you have the ability to have “local” interactions with experts or friends across the globe.
Despite the fact that many of the same social rules that apply in person apply online, many IT executives are unsure about the best path forward for managing online social relationships. Commonly, IT executives are on the “hidden in the sand” path. At a recent engagement, I received chuckles when I mentioned online social tools in the context of their customer experience roadmap. Employees were forbidden from going online or using their mobile devices during work for any reason. Even the idea of listening and protecting their brands online seemed scary to this team.
The second path executives are on is the “customer is my prey” path. For these companies, the online domain is viewed as a place where customer interactions are solely equated with sales, and customer information should be sold to the highest bidder. Imagine the repercussion of this mentality in real life—if, whenever I saw employees of my local credit union at the store or a barbeque, they tried to sell me something or sell my banking information to others in the neighborhood. The same is becoming true online. Customers begin to avoid all interactions with organizations that harass them. With people also starting to protest what they see as “big brother” government and companies abusing their information and privacy, the ramifications of not paying attention to these issues will be severe.
Business executives and IT executives need to spend less time thinking about online social interactions and more time thinking about how to make online interactions consistent with real-life interactions they have with their customers. Executives should think about their cross-channel social interaction platform, including online social networks, e-commerce, mobile, and in-person interactions, by making sure they are covering the following key elements:
New tools for managing social interactions across channels can help create the same kinds of excellent in-person relationships we experience at our local stores. For this reason, the path forward should be a familiar and mutually beneficial one based on leveraging strong social relationships.
Christopher Sowa is vice president of Oracle Insight and co-head of Oracle’s Global Business Intelligence and Exalytics Strategy Pillar.