There seems to be a new breakthrough for businesses customer interaction. Social media networks have begun to play a large role in customer engagement. In an article found in Marketing News Magazine called A Next Step in Online Customer Engagement, Samantha Skey describes how businesses are changing their traditional ways of customer connections online. Samantha begins the article by saying, “Brands have found that by engaging with customers in more personal ways, they gain valuable insights and spur innovation, and also can provide a way to turn customers into brand advocates.” Businesses are all aware that Twitter and Facebook are new tools for business, however many companies are going beyond status updates and occasional Tweets. In order to gain true insights from your customers, you must engage in more personal conversations to develop a stronger customer relationship.
How are you directing your conversations as a business?
With thousands of forums and open social network communities it is easy to get lost in conversations without gaining valuable marketing research to better your client interaction and generate a more valuable action plan. Brands are now able to not only engage in discussions but also to initiate discussions and ask their customers specific questions for developing campaigns. Samantha also says in her article that, “When consumers know that they will be heard and their feedback is considered by decision makers, they are even more likely to participate and rate the brands more positively.” When people have concerns or needs, they will willingly give their input. A lot of times companies have hard time gathering information from consumers because they have little time for surveys and no gain no benefit from filling out the surveys. The surveys are one sided interaction where social media is back and forth communication. There are no innovative ways of engaging conversation, building trust, and generating valuable feedback to deeply understand consumers’ needs. Consumers will give their input when they are assured their voices will instigate change.
Case Studies for Private Brand Communities.
One specific example of innovation for online branding is Hyundai Motor America’s “Think Tank.” This is 2,000 based member community that was designed for owners and enthusiasts. Hyundai created this forum to evolve its brand and vehicles to resonate with a larger audience. One example of Hyundai’s discussions was its customer engagement with Hyundai Assurance Program. Basically, the assurance program was a campaign idea launched enabling owners to return their vehicles and walk away from loan obligations when they were presented with financial distress. The executives were able to gather information about the downfall in economy and future economic uncertainty, rising gas prices, increase in job loss, and other concerns for financial struggle. After launching the program in January 2009, they witnessed a 14% increase in sales from the previous year in January 2008. After the success of the Hyundai Assurance Program, the company took it a step further and announced their newest program called Hyundai Assurance Plus. With this program Hyundai guaranteed to pay a customer’s car payment for three months if he or she should become unemployed. The bottom line is that the company truly benefited from listening to the consumers concerns and developed a program around those concerns. This marketing campaign resulted not only in customer loyalty but a 14% increase in sales. Hyundai’s executives established a community and used social media to spread the word about think tank by posting it on Twitter, Facebook, and public forums. To take it another step further they announced the Associate Purchase Program which allows community members associate/employee discounts for members and friends. Just from September, Hyundai has sold 67 cars through Think Tank referrals alone.
What Can Company’s Learn from Hyundai’s Think Tank Community?
Your company can engage in all types of social media to adapt to the culture and brand your product or you can take the example of Hyundai’s Community and adapt your business around the needs of your costumers. The result is that you will know how to meet your customers needs to the fullest extent, build long lasting customer interaction, establish trust and loyalty, and gain business based on trust.