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Grow Trust and Business with Experiential Social Media
Grow Trust and Business with Experiential Social Media

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New directory to prepare for beta release; Also join the Open Community where we discuss customer experience, employee engagement, customer success, and other trust issues (link at top of right column, this page)
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[Commented on blog post linked below] For your consideration, here's one that most people forget that's really profound, and game-changing: Trust customers.

Trust customers to do what's right for them. That acknowledges that they are the creators of their experiences, and the firm's/brand's role is to advocate for them. In the current Knowledge Economy, products/services are only tools that customers use to achieve their outcomes, and their experiences are based on how easy/hard that is for them. When the firm sees its primary purpose as empowering customers to attain their outcomes, the relationship is transformed.

My firm has shown that empowering customers in digital public gets better sales results than selling, marketing or promoting.

More specifically (this is really a stretch for most businesspeople), trust customers to know when to buy the product/service. When you stop trying to persuade, coerce, or convince them, they feel closer to your firm.

Trust customers to try to reach their outcomes. When your product/service doesn't work for them, trust them to explain why—in their experience. There is no right or wrong here when you focus on empowering people. Trust them to be fair. After more than a decade of conducting ethnographic research of social media, I can tell you that exceptionally few people are out to take advantage of the firm/brand. This means giving customers the benefit of the doubt.

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[commented on post linked below] @angela, thanks for a fantastic post, which really captures a wide range of thought on #CX and customer experience (what's usually behind retention).

I want to add one that I find significantly affects the others but isn't mentioned explicitly by anyone: "Trust your customers."

Example1: Acknowledge that customers are sovereign over their experiences, and firms can but facilitate. This enables firms to stop trying to "create/control/coerce" customers' experiences. I coach my clients in being humble. This may seem like a nit, but it is exceptionally powerful because it's key to employees' attitudes toward customers, and it forms the basis of relationship between firm and customer.

Example2: I'll grant that this is a bit out there, but trust customers to be smart enough to know when to buy. This is very liberating for a firm because firms can stop having a sales agenda with customers. Selling pushes people away, increases buyer remorse, increases service costs. When customers feel that a firm trusts them, they start loving that firm. Of course, Example2 also acknowledges Example1.

I have found that when customers and employees feel trusted, it creates a completely different kind of relationship. I call this thinking like a human, not a business. I have shown that it produces better sales results, too! ;^)

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[Comment on the blog post linked below] Awesome post, one of the best lists I've seen! One element I'll bring in is that trust—of employees and customers—is imperative for all employee/customer experience initiative. In my experience, this is the bête noire of #CX efforts.

This is beyond the obvious. I love that your #3 and #8 addresses empowering employees. And trusting them, explicitly, by only using appropriate guard rails and giving them as much discretion as possible is key.

On the customer side of the aisle, I think that most firms don't acknowledge that customers (and employees for that matter) are sovereign over their experiences. This requires humility to submit to customers. There is no right or wrong. Does it really matter if a customer doesn't use a product as directed, gets poor results and blames the firm? I think it's more important to suss out what the customer wants, not necessarily to "correct" him/her. Firms need to stop trying to "direct" customer experience. I mentor my clients in adopting an advocate attitude, i.e. advocating for customers; they bought a product/service and seek outcomes, so our job becomes empowering them. Right or wrong is counterproductive because it's based on defensiveness.

I find that employees and customers feel this attitude shift, and it's more important than anything that's based on it. This attitude emanates into listening, empowering. And employees LOVE it.

Another subtle thing is helping firms trust customers. Since I conduct ethnographic research of social media during CSRA's research phase, I get a view of customers and employees as few others do. Firms can trust customers to know when to buy, so they can stop trying to coerce them via marketing and promotions which, when too forceful, just create customer sat issues later in the journey.

Thanks again for a great post! This one gets my "best of" tag! Cheers from Chitown.

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