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We can probably all think of times we’ve received great customer service; moments which stand-out, will be remembered, and walked away feeling our opinion matters, has influence, and has been dealt with to the best of a third party’s ability.

A new study by Sitecore, a leading web content and customer experience management software company, shows those companies which employ a “personal touch” perform better commercially.

The report looks into FTSE 350 companies and shows evidence of those who are connected digitally to customers resulted in a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 27% from 2009-12, increasing to 30% within the period of 2010-12.

Perhaps the increased growth over the previous couple of years shows a higher expectance from consumers of digital connections to a company.

There are three types of connection Sitecore investigates; One-Way, Two-Way, and Corporate.

One-way is simply where a company broadcasts information; whether new offers, service updates, or similar less-personal connections.

Two-Way engages in dialogue and personal replies with the customer. HTC is currently a great example of this direct, friendly engagement on micro-blogging service Twitter.

Corporate uses a particular department within the company to deliver PR and/or marketing activities.

According to the research, Sitecore has found the top eight firms in two-way engagement are:

o   Tesco

o   Burberry Group

o   Carnival Plc

o   Barclays

o   BP

o   JD Wetherspoon

o   Dixons Retail

o   easyJet Airline Company

Yet how “personal” is ‘too personal’? One of the dangers is an individual, whether deliberate or disgruntled, can give a bad reputation to the entire firm.

Tesco for example is the top performer; a disgruntled customer complained with “Carrying shopping hurts so much.” The firm replied with internet meme - “Do you even lift bro?”

Whilst many – especially those informed with “internet culture” – would find this hilarious; some could find it offensive, potentially even challenging.

Yet handled correctly these connections can alleviate the seriousness of issues; Tesco was the first retailer to find horse meat being used in their beef products. How did the social team approach the scandal as they clocked off for the night? “It's sleepy time so we're off to hit the hay! See you at 8am for more #TescoTweets”

Shawn Cabral, Marketing Director Sitecore UK, comments: “There are clearly some very important lessons to be learned from the ‘Personal Touch’ research, and the growing adoption of this digitally connected leadership style. In the ever-changing digital landscape where the number of social media users is continuing to grow, the majority of CEOs are missing out on an opportunity to interact effectively with their consumers, and boost the commercial growth of their firm as a result.

“The ability to make the interactions between an organisation and its customers more relevant and engaging shouldn’t be the bastion of the forward thinking CEOs. The delivery of a ‘Personal Touch’ through all available digital channels, such as the web, mobile, social and email, is where the most significant gains can be made. Today, technology that enables CEOs, or organisations, to do this two-way interaction exists; what needs to change is the mind-set.”

You can receive a copy of Sitecore's "Personal Touch" Whitepaper here.

Do you use social engagements as a means of improving your relationship with customers?

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