Your customers are sharing experiences they have with you. This profoundly influences the journey others they know will take and the decisions they will make to become engaged with you. Your marketing efforts have one level of effect but they are always seen as your marketing efforts. What others say, in a peer-to-peer way, are the most potent influencers of all. Word of mouth has always been powerful. Technology now allows for exponential reach for the person who shares their experience of you. It isn’t what you say about yourself but it is all about what others say about you that counts.
At some point, a customer will start a journey with your company. It may be small and unnoticeable to you to begin with. Maybe it was that $10 donation they made when a friend who was participating in an event asked you to give. You can give a lot more and you might. Think of what that experience is like for them. Think through it very carefully. Also think through how to help them along the journey to a higher level of engagement. Is it all intentional? Major customers don’t go from $10 to $1,000,000 in one big leap. The $10 experience, however, has to help start and support that journey.
Every one, marketing, sales, advocacy and mission programs need to align to contribute to the experiences that lead to an engaged journey. It needs to be mapped out and it needs to be intentional. And everyone needs to be on board with the strategy. The framework of internal collaboration is not difficult: listen to the customers, learn, create engagement experiences, and adapt to improve the engagement experiences.
- Listening involves the conversations they are having as they discover you. Follow that same path yourself and evaluate how it feels in the context of the more important journey.
- Learning takes the form of how key words are used, questions that are asked and how the responses may contribute to a theme and how those themes in fact evolve to deeper levels of engagement.
- This requires an ability to apply those key words to learn how customers are engaged which lead to others becoming engaged with you as well.
- Refine your key word strategy based on how others are searching and interacting with you.
- Your search engine marketing efforts can benefit in a huge way from what you learn.
- Look to see how customers are engaged in a search for a certain experiences today that could lead to a discovery of your mission.
- Do you have a defined path from discovery to engagement in one of your communities? If so, engaged customers can become a respected resource to attract others into the community.
- Develop a content strategy to support community engagement.
- YouTube videos
- Social-friendly website and landing pages
- Customer reviews and testimonials on social sites.
- Develop a strategy to involve customers in fixing problems. This should be public and rapid.
- Develop a social media command center with a team to monitor key social media channels to convert negative customer experiences into positive ones.
- Use a continuous improvement process for your customer’s journey that you are creating. This should support internal collaboration and external engagement.
- This should create a path between shared customer experiences and program innovation.
- The insights you gain can lead you to rethink roles, rules, procedures and processes. A procedure you have may create a kink in an otherwise well thought out customer journey.
Shared experiences (and they will be shared) are ties that bind the decision making potential customers will make. In the connected world with access to mobile, social and the internet anytime anywhere, experiences will be shared on demand. You have a great mission. That isn’t the issue. The unconnected and siloed experiences you are not intentional about may not be what you want shared on YouTube. Design the type of experiences you want shared. You have to assume the experience, whether good or not, will be shared. That level of design will free you from fearing someone sharing the truth.