It is fitting that perhaps the most distilled articulation of the key to successful customer service should come from Mahatma Gandhi himself, as an extension of the life of service (in a larger sense) that he led.
There is little I can write to add to the profundity of his words, so I will let them speak for themselves. Take them to heart and your business will thrive across all media and the relationships you forge with your customers will become a competitive advantage that no technology can match. A customer is the most important visitor on our premises.
Gandhi shared these thoughts in a speech he gave in 1890 in South Africa and they are a prescient today as they were then.
Last week I had the pleasure of listening to a joint session between Coca-Cola and WWF at the Cause Marketing Forum in Chicago. As anyone who noticed the white Arctic Home Coca-Cola cans will tell you, the campaign to protect and restore polar bear habitat was a bold marketing move in terms of commitment to a cause, scale of execution, and dramatic results both for the brand and WWF fundraising. Equally valuable to all of us are the insights and learning from a large scale, purposeful partnership , and so I wanted to share the lessons they passed on at the event.
In terms of their ‘Keys to Success’, Coca-Cola and WWF shared four main points:
1. Partnership: It is far move effective to make a meaningful difference when you partner with an expert in that subject such as the WWF and polar bear habitat.
2. Champions in leadership: The ability for a brand of any size to act on a purposeful initiate turns on the commitment of leadership.
3. True to brand equity: Any effort must be ethically aligned with the brand’s equity, for example, Coca-Cola and their long-running campaign featuring polar bears.
4. Innovation and risk: Any marketing initiative involves a degree of risk but purposeful commitments are also largely uncharted, so a combination of the two is required.
Yet, as with any bold move, there were ‘Learnings’ and here’s what Coca-Cola and the WWF shared:
1. Always room for more collaboration: No matter how busy everyone gets and how quickly a project scales, you can never have too much collaboration so that things never get out of control.
2. Defer to the expert on the issue: Always know what you know and know what you don’t by deferring to the expert on a topic (for example, Coca-Cola with marketing and WWF with polar bear habitat).
3. Simplify participation mechanics: With so many engagement tools and strategies to choose from, it’s easy to over complicate things which makes it doubly important to keep the consumer engagement part simple.
4. Carefully consider the role of each communication: As a project builds to and expands beyond the launch, it’s important to ensure each communication is directed towards a strategic goal to avoid miscommunication and maximize the positive impact of the marketing spend.
Arctic Home is an important commitment by Coca-Cola and the WWF in its own right but its also a powerful and inspiring case study for other brands to follow. It’s success odes well for other brands seeking to bring their values to life in ways that are meaningful to the company, its employees, consumers and the world at large.
As social media matures, apps proliferate and new enterprise platforms appear everyday, it’s almost impossible to track with all the changes let alone integrate them into your company. With that in mind I felt it might be useful to distill and isolate ten trends that are reshaping the social business marketplace as we speak.
2. Consumers now expect real time, personalized and seamless engagement.
3. The amount of information consumers can access is increasing exponentially (as a function of auto-publishing).
4. All this information and all our relationships will be available everywhere (as a function of tablets, smart phones, and the cloud).4. Competition for consumer attention is increasing exponentially diminishing the impact of traditional advertising.
5. All this information and all our relationships will be available everywhere (as a function of tablets, smartphones, and the cloud).
6. Leader brands are being distinguished by the quality of their social listening and response to consumer needs and demands.
7. Social technology is changing at an increasing pace and being adopted and adapted by consumers before brands.
8. Consumer activism is rising.
9. Co-creative brand/consumer marketing campaigns are becoming the new standard.
10. Social technology is becoming increasing fractured, crowded, and niche every day.
In the face of such blistering speed and complexity of engagement, the wisest thing a brand can do is to serve as its own compass. It does this by defining what it stands for, and its core values, and then bringing those to life in a consistent and creative way across new technologies and platforms. To do otherwise is to chase the tireless tail of technological innovation only to broadcast your schizophrenia and confuse your customers.
Brands must know themselves before they can expect others can talk about them and so as counter-intuitive as it seems, the most valuable investment of time you can make as a brand is looking inward towards self-definition, rather than chasing the latests social technology.
Do you think the pace of social technology is helping or hurting brands trying to define themselves?
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Simon Mainwaring is the founder of We First, a leading brand consultancy that provides purpose-driven strategy, content, and training that empowers companies to lead business, shape culture, and better our world.