Power Up Your Employees and Customers
Maytag’s brand suffered in a million little ways when a single irate customer who waited too many days for a washing machine repair sent the tweet that traveled around the world. That tweet went to her 1 million followers and generated 2,906 comments, generating much negative attention aimed at the company. The interesting part of the story is that Whirlpool, Maytag’s parent company, actually has a Twitter presence and tweeted back to the empowered mother and popular blogger. Although the company eventually sent out a service person to finally fix the washer, the damage to the brand had been done and a big company got a big black eye because it failed to recognize how truly empowered customers can be these days.
There are many people like the mother who waited too long to get help from Maytag. Sometimes they buy high-ticket items that break down while they are still new. They even buy 10-year warranties to make sure they can avoid a problem. Yet, when all conventional measures fail to get results, they turn to the new tools of empowerment that are cheap and easy to use. That’s when a million people get a bad taste in their mouths about your product when you could have easily avoided the entire fiasco.
Two executives at Forrester Research, Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler have devised a thoughtful plan to help companies avoid Maytag’s mistake. This plan requires the coordination of people they call HEROes: "Highly Empowered and Resourceful Operatives." In other words, your company needs people who understand how to use tools like Twitter, iPhones, Facebook and YouTube. New media platforms hold unique value because they empower your customers. Bernoff and Schadler write, "To succeed with empowered customers, you must empower your employees to solve customer problems."
In Empowered, Bernoff and Schadler describe how empowered businesses are cropping up all over these days, and how forward-looking companies are working hard to make sure they get their employees, company managers and IT people all on the same page. According to the authors, all of these people need to find new ways to meet customer needs, set clear rules while encouraging experiments and expand the supporting role of IT.
Profiles in Collaboration
One company the authors identify as already doing this is Sun Life Financial. Employees there are increasingly working together through LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media, where they are able to improve their recruiting efforts along with collaboration and innovation.
Bernoff and Schadler write that the use of social media tools at the company is currently growing at 10 percent each month. People within the company’s IT and marketing departments are also working more closely together than ever before using online tools.
Sun Life is just one of the many examples that the co-authors of Empowered offer readers. Other companies profiled, including Best Buy and IBM, also model the behaviors of forward-facing companies that use customer-focused innovation on a daily basis. They also show how timely changes can be made, and how higher rates of sharing can benefit everyone involved.
New IT-empowered systems are helping many companies interact with their customers in new and fruitful ways, and the co-authors of Empowered provide the rules for working in this new business environment.