Mark McDonald

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Mark P. McDonald
GVP EXP
8 years at Gartner
24 years IT industry

Mark McDonald, Ph.D., is a former group vice president and head of research in Gartner Executive Programs. He is the co-author of The Social Organization with Anthony Bradley. Read Full Bio

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Beyond Social Media Marketing, Part 2

by Mark P. McDonald  |  September 13, 2012  |  5 Comments

A prior post on this blog sought to make the case that its time to think about social media marketing beyond ideas of generating attention or likes.  This posts introduces a framework for thinking about social media marketing in the broader context of the customer experience.

Seeing the potential of social media technology beyond marketing requires expanding the way we think of social media and its ability to engage an audience. Successful marketing requires more than gathering attention.  It requires turning attention into action and results and that requires more than thinking of the marketing process in terms of market, sell and serve.  It requires identifying broader spectrum of the customer experience.

Broadening the description of the customer experience

Traditional ideas around customer service revolve around two major activities.  The first is being easy to do business with in terms of making the offering (your product or service) easy to understand, value and engage in the purchase process.  There is a direct connection between this aspect of the customer experience, marketing, eCommerce and social media.

Service and support after the sale is the other major component in customer experience strategy.  Here social media technologies play an important role as either a channel for company to customer interaction or in allowing customers to support each other as is the case for Ford and its Sync Owners Support site.  There and on other similar sites, peers support each other using social media technology.

Customers do more than buy products, break them and require support.  Ultimately the customer experience is based on realizing value based on the nature of value, the value capacity of products-services and the interaction models required to unlock potential value.  These factors extend the customer experience beyond quality of service and usability into broader spectrum of experiences tied to how customers perceive and receive value.  That spectrum combines ideas related to the customer experience, product characteristics and value.  Defining that spectrum starts with looking at products and services in terms of two dimensions:  Complexity and Frequency.  The figure below highlights different product categories based on these dimensions.

Complexity describes the nature of the product features, functions, capacities and behaviors.  At the high end, complex products like financial services create complex customer experiences.  These product categories require making multiple decisions and changing behavior to gain their value.  At the low end, the experience is direct and accessible such as purchasing groceries or buying a snack.

Frequency seeks to capture another dimension of the customer experience – how often you engage or encounter the product over the lifetime of the relationship.  We encounter high frequency products either directly, in terms of buying them, or indirectly in terms of their visibility in daily life.  We often plan for low frequency products, setting up meetings, engaging professionals for activities like purchasing financial services, buying a home, etc.

Radically different products have the same frequency.  For example we encounter high visibility fashion items like women’s handbags as frequently as groceries.  We choose insurance as often as we purchase a new major appliance. We do not think of them as being in the same category, but from a value perspective they can be quite similar.

Value Realization in the Broader Customer Experience

Value and how you realize it in the customer experience completes the spectrum.

Value is an essential element of the customer experience, but too often value is seen as the simple exchange of money for products and services.  Broadening the customer experience spectrum requires recognizing the need to deliver value across multiple dimensions. There are four dimensions of value.  I learned them in the form of the KANO model.  These sources of value are:

  • Solving a problem
  • Enabling an opportunity
  • Making someone feel good about themselves
  • Making someone look good to themselves or in eyes of others

Essentially, these four dimensions point out that value comes not only from what you do but also from the way you do it and the way others experience that process.   Adding value to the spectrum deepens the definition of the different points on the customer experience spectrum.

 

Different combinations of complexity and frequency engage different sources of value.  In general the more frequent we encounter the product, the more value moves toward externally visible value based on how we think we look and feel to others.  This is the domain of brand visibility and lifestyle association where being seen with a product is as important as what the product can do.

“Look good and feel good” value are the epitome of experience, but they are not the only source of value.  The customer experience in categories with high complexity and low frequency is important.  In categories such as financial services, durable products, or large complex services, customers experience look good and feel good value internally and through time.

Consider where your organization’s offerings and value proposition lie across this spectrum.

  • What is your frequency?
  • What is the complexity?
  • How do you create value for the customer and
  • How do they realize that value?

Answering these questions requires a deeper understanding of the customer experience.  Consider automobiles, they exist across this entire spectrum from their infrequent and complex purchase to the image they project everyday when we get behind the wheel.

Finding your range across the spectrum is an essential part of product and service strategy and where you should look to apply social media beyond marketing.

Social media’s future beyond simple marketing lies in how it addresses the full customer experience spectrum and provides the different sources of value.  That is the focus of the next and final post.

Related Posts

Beyond social media marketing, Part 1

It is time to ‘breakout’ of social media’s marketing beachhead

Customer experience extends beyond quality of service and usability

The Social Customer: a Book Review

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