Customers have an unprecedented voice in your organizations ability to succeed and thrive. And investments reflect the critical need to listen and respond to customers. Marketing spend on customer facing systems continues to rise as listening to and talking with customers at more intimate level becomes an imperative. At the same time, we continue to invest in enterprise social business and collaboration solutions to drive greater effectiveness and engagement for our employees. Sounds like we're doing the right things, right? Well, sort of. Each silo is doing the right thing. But, lacking a coordinated approach, marketing and technology management spend will never reach full potential. Only when these two come together, do we have a foundation for creating a Customer Activated Enterprise. 

The good news is that we have a solid foundation, with some key investments in place. Today:

We listen

There are a lot of proven solutions to listen to customers—from training customer-facing employees to be more empathetic to installing social listening technology within your contact center. Having a good ear is only half the battle—what your company does with what it hears is equally important. Moving the “voice of the customer” through your firm more rapidly is the next step.

We analyze

Companies gather product requirements and mash them together at the front end of new product development cycles. Companies test the “temperature” of their brand on social media and adjust marketing messages accordingly. Those are examples of actions taken directly from accumulated knowledge of customer needs. With the proper care, customer insights can be actionable, searchable, useful digital assets.

Alright, so far so good. So, where are we falling short?

We don’t share

So, we are gathering and analyzing more data than ever before, even acting on it under certain circumstances. But in many cases, the majority of employees are not included in the conversation. We all hear the stories about social listening and the ability to react. Ever hear the story of United Airlines and the guitar? Yeah, we all have. The real question is, do we fully disseminate that information to every worker and make it part of every decision he or she makes every day? No, we do not.

We don’t fully engage

Like every useful conversation, it takes two—listening and talking, giving and taking, acting and reacting. Not every information worker has direct interaction with customers, and not every customer talks to our employees, so firms must be diligent about sharing information and communications. Firms need to harness the power of communications and collaboration technologies to bring experts and decision makers together, to bring insights and innovative processes together, to bring customer needs into every decision-making process.

At the core of the Customer Activated Enterprise is closing the gap between all systems that face customers and employee facing systems. We see this happening in two ways. 1) Vendor led solutions that integrate external and internal solutions within their portfolios. Vendors like SalesForce, Jive, Zimbra and many others have already taken key steps in this direction. 2) Technology Management and Marketing led solutions that integrate existing investments through a standard based approach.

We have found that enterprise users are demanding the Customer Activated Enterprise to enable a number of key scenarios. While there are many, a few that repeatedly surface in our research are:

Designing and enhancing offerings with features that customers’ value. Research and Development, product management and product development are driving demand with an eye toward including customers in product vision.

Creating employee advocates who amplify the brand and attract new prospects. Human Resources is driving demand for employees that are more deeply engaged with customers in all aspects of their work.

Delighting customers with an outstanding fulfillment experience. Fulfillment in the form of packaging, delivery, customer support, employee support in fulfillment are often after thoughts and require more and deeper customer insights to make the process delightful. 

My colleague Laura Ramos and I have been working hard on this research. We're excited to share it with you and get your feedback. I'll be participating in a Stump the Analyst Session with John Rymer, Jeffery Hammond and Phil Murphy at our upcoming Forum for AD&D Professionals in Chicago on October 16 & 17. If you have questions about this or other research for the analysts, please let us know!