I recently attended an exclusive event in NYC where  Marc Benioff, Chairman and CEO of Salesforce.com introduced the concept of “How to Become a Customer Company.” It is the new vision for Salesforce.com that Benioff is trying to sell and it focuses on “the customer” as the key mission for every company. The customer revolution will tie together multiple themes–location, social, cloud and big data–and ultimately redefine every company. While I believe in what Marc was saying and agree with many of his points, I found it a little difficult to understand how this “new” vision, was so radically different from their past theme, “The Social Enterprise.” Perhaps it has something to do with their failed attempt to trademark the term.

Nonetheless, I do believe that social business can have a tremendous effect on how companies handle their customers and provide them with the service and support they require. A perfect example of this is Intuit’s Live Community. Intuit figured out that the best way to provide customer support to their Turbotax customers was not through expensive call centers or by hiring thousands of support professionals. Rather, Intuit turned to the power of social technologies and enabled their biggest asset, their customers, to provide guidance and support to other customers. This ingenious way to solve their customer support issues widely acknowledged as revolutionary and was one the examples given by Dion Hinchcliffe and Peter Kim in their book, Social Business by Design.

It is through the power of social technologies that customers can easily find the right answers to the questions they have or in the alternative easily contact the company and get an immediate response. Companies can do this by utilizing powerful social listening tools to monitor what their customers are saying and assign them the right priority when problems or issues are reported.
Once a problem is reported, a customer service representative can easily get an answer from anyone within the company by utilizing an enterprise social network to access knowledge and expertise within the company.

Another example of innovative customer service through social technologies is what the airlines are doing. Airline companies such as KLM, Southwest, Delta and Virgin America are doing incredibly innovative things when it comes to providing support to their customers. In the ultra competitive world of airlines, these savvy companies have figured out that providing excellent customer service through social business channels are a significant competitive advantage for them.

As I previously wrote on my post, “It’s time to integrate Social into your Business“, most companies are making the mistake of only utilizing social technologies for marketing purposes. That is using social to attract new customers and prospects. However, as most savvy business people know, “it is much harder to attract new customers than to get new business from your current customers.” That is why it is critical that companies start to look at how they can use social technologies and techniques to take care of their most valuable commodity: their customers.

If you don’t believe me, read what Marc Benioff said, “all companies recognize that they need to re-think how they engage with customers, that they must become customer companies. Customer companies listen to every customer, engage on every channel and deliver great customer service everywhere. They sell as a team, create communities, connect products to the network and deliver apps on any device. By connecting everything—customers, employees, partners and products—customer companies revolutionize the way they sell, service, market and innovate….” (This is part four of seven in a series on the benefits of becoming a social business)

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