As more customers head to the Web to review products, make purchases and find information, forward-thinking companies need to learn how to leverage Web 2.0 to stay competitive. Here are a few ways you can use Web 2.0 technologies to improve your customer service, marketing and sales efforts in a Web 2.0 world.
Using Web 2.0 for online customer service
- Monitor blogs and social networks -- Customers are talking, and you should be listening. As sites like Twitter and Facebook grow in popularity, more and more customers are expressing their opinions about products, services and companies through "tweets" and "status updates" on these sites. So get involved -- for example, Comcast's Frank Eliason recently formed a group to monitor social networks and blogs and respond to them. Now, Eliason has over 13,000 people following his updates on Twitter. Comcast also monitors customer service on Twitter and follows what Comcast customers are posting on the site, reaching out to anyone who mentions they're having trouble with their service.
- Encourage customer product reviews -- According to one study, 83% of customers say product reviews influence their purchasing decision, and over 77% of online shoppers look for customer product reviews before making a decision. Whether they're positive or negative, customer product reviews can be beneficial for everyone involved -- one company found out through reviews that customers were often losing the cap to their USB drive, which convinced the company to develop a model with a swivel covering.
Ajax is a method of building interactive applications for the Web that process user requests immediately.
Twitter is a free social networking microblogging service that allows registered members to broadcast short posts called "tweets."
Facebook is a popular free social networking website that allows registered users to create profiles, upload photos and video, send messages and keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues.
- Speed things up with Ajax technology -- A website that uses Ajax allows content to be updated immediately when a user performs an action, unlike an HTTP request, which requires users to wait while a new page loads. E-commerce customers will be quick to go elsewhere if your site is slowing them down, and Gartner urges e-commerce companies to update their websites with Ajax technology if they want to improve the customer experience and remain competitive.
- Start using mashups -- A company making use of mashups can provide a more valuable, customized product or service to their customers. Since mashups combine elements from multiple sources onto a single Web page or application, the customer's experience will be more interactive and personalized.
Using Web 2.0 for marketing
- Create a social networking site or blog -- Capitalize on the popularity of social networking sites and blogs and start your own. Creating a community centered around a common interest or brand can really pay off -- you'll be able to connect with your customers whenever you want, tap into detailed information on your target audiences and gauge your customer's reactions to changes in products or services via comments or discussion boards. For example, one company in the health and fitness industry created Muscledog.com, a social networking website where their potential customers interested in bodybuilding can create profiles and interact in forums, and where the company can post its own ads and sell ad space to others.
- Take advantage of peer-to-peer marketing -- Satisfied customers are usually more than willing to recommend a product or service to others, and Web 2.0 technology is making it easier than ever for customers to share their opinions and connect around a common interest. For example, Mozilla, creator of the Firefox browser, has extended marketing efforts to its loyal community of members, who come up with different and creative ways to share their passion for Mozilla Firefox.
Using Web 2.0 for sales
- Invest in Web 2.0 collaboration tools -- Sales teams are often the most successful when they're working together, and Web 2.0 technologies are known for their focus on collaboration and cohesiveness. For companies looking to improve sales effectiveness, it might be worth evaluating the latest CRM software with Web 2.0 functionality. For example, Oracle's CRM On Demand product now includes social networking features that alert works when a colleague has a tie to a sales prospect, helping them identify people who may be able to help them close a deal. The software also lets users subscribe to RSS feeds that provide information on key objects or leads.
- Deploy Sales 2.0 tools -- Sales 2.0 tools range from wikis to blogs, and can help improve collaboration between a company and it's customers, leading to improved customer loyalty and satisfaction. Sales 2.0 tools also provide sales teams with an edge. For example, a blog on a topic that interests customers can help an organization gain visibility and credibility with clients and perspective clients.
Browse our list of the top Web 2.0 buzzwords to learn more about Web 2.0 and CRM.