These days, retaining customers is just as important as acquiring them. It used to be that putting up a Web site or a Facebook page was considered a web presence. With the proliferation of social media, smartphones and tablet PCs, entirely new avenues of communication have opened up between company and customer. How well companies adapt to the changing social landscape and harness the power of social media could mean the difference between making a meaningful and lasting connection with clients, and being passed over for a company that actually listens. Peppers & Rogers Group has long been a thought leader on the importance of treating customers as individuals. Orkun Oguz, Managing Director, North America of Peppers & Rogers, spoke with Consulting One on One about another method pioneered by the company, the Mobile App Index, which aims to help companies ensure their social media interactions with customers are a conversation, not a one way street.
Consulting: What is the Mobile App Index and what does it measure?
Oguz: Right now, the number of apps out there are increasing at a very fast pace. Some of our clients are thinking of publishing their own apps, and we help them with what things they need to pay attention to. We always feel we are at the cutting edge of ‘customer-centricity,’ and apps are becoming one of the main channels customers are interacting with companies, so it’s just one of the new innovative ways we deliver to our customers.
Consulting: How does the App Index Help Peppers & Rogers serve clients?
Oguz: It’s a diagnostic tool. We have different types of touch mapping, where we look at how different types of customers interact with different touch points the company has. Social is now a big new era our clients are trying to figure out how to deal with, so our social landscape analysis methodologies all come together from a perspective of, how can our clients understand the needs of their customers and the differences within the customer base and serve them accordingly in a not just cost-efficient way, but in a way to improve their customer experience.
Consulting: What is the app strategy a client should be focused on?
Oguz: We don’t think that just putting an app out there makes much sense. It should complement the other channels the company has. It should be developed in a way to address the needs high value, high potential customers. So if you’re putting an app out there if you’re an airline, you better take into consideration the frequent fliers niche and what they need. It should also be as open as possible. Don’t be afraid to have an open system to refer to other niches of customers as long as they’re related to your area. Airline or car rental companies, how much your customers are going to use your app if you can only book a room versus if you’re able help them get updates about arrival or departure times, book airline tickets, rental cars? Try to address an enhanced set of needs for your high-frequency customers, That’s what the mobile nature requires right now.
Consulting: What is the ultimate role for social media in the future of business?
Oguz: It’s another way to have conversation and for companies to learn about their customers needs. The companies that care about their customers need to figure out how to respond to those needs. It’s not just about having listening tools out there, but developing mechanisms, platforms training and empowering their people so the company can have a voice in social media and really interact with their customers and leverage that environment for further learning and having further conversations. Unfortunately in some industries today like Financial Services, companies are still trying to grant access to their advisors to send e-mails to customers. When you think about the shift happening in the market there’s big room for improvement. It’s not just about putting a Facebook page up, it’s about how you bring all social elements together to have meaningful conversation with your customers and get some learning out of it. It’s a continuous process. What happens to online and mobile is going to take some time, but at the end it’s going to be integrated into companies DNA, it should be.
Consulting: What is social media’s long term role in the consulting industry?
Oguz: I don’t think anyone’s figured out how to make money out of social media, so until that’s clear the vendors and tech providers won’t be getting lots of revenues out of the area. But for us, it’s about being innovative, helping our clients with what’s happening in the market and improving our 1 to 1 and ‘customer-centricity.’ We’re not looking at it as a big revenue stream at this point, but we think without social media aspects, the customer relationship management landscape will be not complete.