I was at SXSW this weekend and I was overwhelmed at the number of of cool ideas and technologies swarming about. There was no shortage of “shiny new toys” at this conference.
But for many of the cool technologies I saw I struggled to find the customer value in the technology. These days where there is a saturation of technologies, many of which are in the social space, and where features and functions overlap, how does one product stand out?
How does one create that value?
Who is YOUR Customer?
I’m am directing this post at technologies that aim to connect businesses with prospects or customers in social spaces, of which we’ve seen a sea-change.
For companies developing social technologies, is your customer the business willing to pay for your technology? Or is your customer the end user, the relevant target you introduced to the paying business via your technology?
I had a discussion with a few people about this topic this past weekend. Funnily enough I was with a client, peddling his product with the intent to get some market validation for his approach. When I spoke with marketers one thing kept popping up:
How am I, as a business going to make money from this, and when?
Despite the business changes that social has instigated (or attempted to influence), the majority of businesses still have objectives they have to meet: in a defined timeframe in which to meet them. Social’s “takes-time” approach still doesn’t jive with the majority of business today.
Will you, as a technology, attempt to rush social to fit in the nice little marketing box that business will buy?
Let’s rephrase the earlier question: Who is YOUR customer? Is your customer the business who pays you money to get results now? Alternatively, is your customer the end user who may be perturbed by being targeted by your technology and punish the business in the meantime?
This leads to a second question?
Is it incumbent on the business of the product to take responsibility for the fallout if your client’s business is negatively impacted as a result of using your technology?
Reputation management is not a trend. It is an essential part of business today. Increasingly business is being put on the defensive and many are still are not properly equipped to do this. How do you as the product provider respond if your customer asks you, “How do I do this?”
Your Customer is Both: The End User and the Paying Business
As both Facebook and Twitter have come to realize, business success means two things: scale and revenue. Both are interdependent but serve entirely different audiences. Facebook and Twitter continue to iterate the ad models on their platforms BUT both are cognizant of protecting and preserving the community first.
If you want your customers to succeed, then you must take responsibility for their results. ArCompany partners with technologies that provide the customer insights and analysis that their clients seek.
However, resources are constrained to developing excellence around the core technology and its use.
We’ve come to realize that there is an enormous need to hand-hold the business entertaining the use of social insights. Listening now is passe. Outreach and response resolution is what’s expected and businesses need to understand how to do it correctly and effectively.
And that’s where technology needs to apply the resources. If the business doesn’t succeed, they will blame the technology and leave it behind.
The Value is No Longer the Product, But the Service
It seems we’ve come full circle. For every single business out there today, large and small, product value is transient and short-term. Someone tried to argue that technology needs to provide both customer experience and a differentiated product value.
My response: Customer experience, these days is tablestakes: it’s what everyone expects. If your product is difficult to use, the end user will walk and never come back.
The real differentiator is the time and effort your company makes to ensure customer success.
This means educating them and providing the necessary guidance and outlets to effectively field their responses. And, there will be many. Yes, this takes money and it means dedicated resources.
In the end, not only will that net the business revenue, it will ensure a strong retention base and give you scalability through positive word of mouth.
Founder at ArCompany, and Co-founder of Salsa AI, Hessie is a seasoned digital strategist, and intelligence analyst having held senior positions for top ad agencies including Ogilvy, Rapp Collins, ONE and Isobar Digital. She also has extensive start-up experience in social tech, online publishing and artificial intelligence like Yahoo! Answers, Overlay.TV, Jugnoo and Cerebri AI. Hessie is the co-author of EVOLVE: Marketing (as we know it) is Doomed! She is also an active writer for Cognitive World, Towards Data Science and Marketing Insider Group.