The Imminent Shift from Social to Digital Engagement

How do you define engagement?

No matter how you define it, engagement is something that we most likely underestimate. Engagement symbolizes the touches that occur in various moments of truth and this should completely change not only how you engage someone in each moment but also how the inside of your company works with one another to make it frictionless and experiential.

Whether a customer stands on the stage of awareness, consideration, purchase, or post purchase, touch points open and close. And, it is in those moments that engagement, regardless of source or shape, affects the next steps and impressions of customers.

These moments of truth however are not limited to any one channel. Whether customers are navigating social, mobile, web or IRL (in real life), they approach each stage of the journey with different needs, in varying stages of decision making, and with one of several frames of mind depending on the context of engagement and also the screen (smartphone, PC, tablet, TV, etc) they’re using in each moment. It’s becoming increasingly complex, but then again so is the path of consumer decision-making. That’s why I wrote WTF, What’s the Future of Business…someone had to tell the story of the new customer journey, their way points, and how to reach them. The answers revealed that social was only part of the adventure.

The image above represents a detailed customer journey map, which outlines the important steps your connected customers take during and following decision making. The map also introduces the diverse elements that factor in to each step. Perhaps more importantly are the channels and screens individuals use to make their way along the journey. Mobile, social, web, IRL, they each contribute to a customer experience that either helps or prevents them from moving along in your favor.

In my research I’ve found that more often than not, each stage of the customer journey along with the mixed channels that they use are defined or programmed by different groups within the organization. The social experience is developed independently of the mobile experience, which is disconnected from the web experience. The point is that customers only see one brand or business and therefore each channel should complement one another to deliver against a desired experience and journey optimized for the moments of truth and for the context of each screen.

The Expansion from Social to Digital Engagement

One of the ways I’ve defined “engagement” over the years was quite simple, when a business and consumer interact within their channel of relevance during various moments of truth. Engagement though, is then measured by the actions, sentiment, and outcomes that result from each interaction. To optimize results, experiences, click paths, outcomes, and sentiment must be defined and enlivened through each channel in each moment. To do so takes vision, articulation of that vision, and collaboration with all stakeholder groups to cast a unified approach. Yes. It’s the age-old argument of bringing down silos and opening doors between departments and groups that just don’t talk to each other right now. But, that’s just what needs to happen and the more progressive companies are already taking note.

One such company is one that you’re more than familiar with. Starbucks recently appointed Adam Brotman, former senior vice president of Starbucks Digital Ventures, was appointed to an entirely new executive role, chief digital officer. The CDO role assumes all of Starbuck’s digital projects, which includes web, mobile, social media, digital marketing, Starbucks Card and loyalty, e-commerce, Wi-Fi, Starbucks Digital Network, and emerging in-store technologies.

Sephora is another forward thinking company that is uniting disparate channel strategies and various customer journeys in the name of holistic experiences. Sephora recently underwent a makeover to define the ideal customer experience and how it would play out in digital and real world channels, including in store engagement, while complementing and optimizing one another.

Perhaps a Chief Digital Officer is just the beginning. What we’re really talking about is someone who can bridge marketing, sales, service, and technology to create a frictionless path between customers and the business…at every step of the journey. Perhaps it’s time to think about escalating the role to someone who can own the entire customer lifecycle and bring the people within the organization together to do it. To break down walls, someone must be able to show how and why everyone can and should work together and also what’s in it for them. It would take someone who isn’t tied to any one function but instead someone who has everybody’s best interest inside and outside the organization to redefine the experience and how it’s formed and sustained. As I write this, I imagine someone taking over the role of customer journey management for digital, social, mobile and IRL.

The digital lifestyle is just a way of life now and businesses that don’t think beyond social or traditional will miss the greater opportunity to lead desirable customer journeys, experiences and outcomes. Take one more look at the Dynamic Customer Journey. As you plan for 2013 social, mobile, digital, and other channel strategies, consider how each can converge into a reciprocal and congruous ecosystem. The future of customer experiences lies in experience design and more importantly, customer journey mapping…across the screens and IRL.

Welcome to a new world of customer journey management (CJM) and the ability to bring people together around a common vision for improving customer experiences, sentiment and relationships.

The story continues…

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock

This post is based on a piece I wrote for AT&T’s Networking Exchange

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ABOUT ME

Brian Solis is a digital analyst, anthropologist, and also a futurist. In his work at Altimeter Group, Solis studies the effects of disruptive technology on business and society. He is an avid keynote speaker and award-winning author who is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in digital transformation.

His most recent book, What's the Future of Business: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences (WTF), explores the landscape of connected consumerism and how business and customer relationships unfold in four distinct moments of truth. His previous book, The End of Business as Usual, explores the emergence of Generation-C, a new generation of customers and employees and how businesses must adapt to reach them. In 2009, Solis released Engage, which is regarded as the industry reference guide for businesses to market, sell and service in the social web.

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