Since I recently hit a milestone in my tenure at Get Satisfaction, I’ve been reflecting on the last five years I’ve been here. Of course, this also means thinking about how much things have changed and — as the axiom goes — how much they have stayed the same. I wanted to share a few thoughts on this.
In February of 2008, Thor, Lane, and Amy launched Get Satisfaction under the moniker “Customer Service is the New Marketing.” The story was simple … in a world that was increasingly connected through social technologies, it was imperative that companies not only listen to their customers, but also respond to them. Why? Because in these public media, your customers (not you) were in control of your brand. The Cluetrain Manifesto was coming true.
Personally, I was really attracted to this idea and the disruption it would cause.
In 2008, Facebook still had “fan” pages mostly created by celebrities and bands (why would a brand want to be there?). Frank Eliason was just starting to turn customer care at Comcast on its head by actually responding to customers in Twitter (this was very novel!). There were a smattering of social listening and monitoring platforms designed to help companies respond to customers and publish content in social networks.
Some people called this movement “social CRM” … and Paul Greenberg is writing a reflective piece of his on in a really interesting series this week on diginomica.com. But as Paul points out, social CRM was still a very company-centric process. Customers merely became trained to expect a response in social. A customer-centric process would allow something much richer and much more powerful … the ability to have a conversation with the company and with other customers and prospects.
So it was obvious to us at Get Satisfaction that social networks were very limited in their ability to facilitate the creation of a real relationship between companies and their prospects and customers. You needed a customer community for that.
Many of our earliest customers realized that a community provides an entirely different set of value propositions for service, sales, and marketing, than a social presence. However, the broader trend was a mad-dash for companies to create as many fans, likes, and followers as possible. I call this period the Social Haze (roughly 2010-2012). Many companies were successful in building audience in social networks … I’m not sure how many were successful in building a stronger relationship with customers and prospects.
Five years later, It seems like we are coming through the Social Haze. Brands have placed a renewed emphasis and vigor toward creating a compelling customer experience on their websites, in mobile, and in other channels. This is where everything old is new again … because customer community is one of the best tools to create a compelling social experience for your customers that can cross multiple channels.
Please join me in discussing this trend in our community. I’m looking forward to your thoughts.