I see that Dion Hinchciffe has blogged about the use of Web 2.0 Techniques in customer relationships and has come up with 5 techniques for using web 2.0 to reinvent customer relationship. At the end of the day trying to maintain relationships with your customer is nothing particularly new, what Web 2.0 does it to lower the cost or barrier to entry just like Web 1.0 did with ecommerce. This means that it is now possible to maintain contact with you customer throughout the time that they are using your product at little or no cost (or indeed providing revenue). This has the following advantages:
1 Minimizes marketing and sales cost. The cost of acquiring a new customer or reacquiring a customer is much higher than selling to a presently engaged customer.
2 Improves customer satisfaction. As the users support one another and can be supported throughout the transparent organization rather than just by customer support personnel then they are much more likely to be satisfied customers
3 Provides immediate and specific feedback about how your product is being used, both in expected and unexpected ways. This allows enterprises to continuously modify and improve their product and to take advantage of new markets and product uses. I have a Pharmaceutical company using this technique for finding new uses for their present drugs.
4 Revenue generation though advertising. The addition of very targeted advertising becomes both useful to your customer and valuable to the advertiser so providing advertising revenue.
And all this at no cost to the enterprise! You have to wonder why everyone isn't doing it. I am working with a number of customers on this model and it has some very interesting effects; for example where a enterprise has an agents model it can be used as a very effective incentive.
I must admit it is really fun to be working on projects that make money for customers rather than cut just costs for a change. Whilst cost cutting and efficiency is important it's rather negative in some strange way, even though it’s the major focus of the IT industry at the moment. Its certainly much more pleasant to be working on projects that the business side of the enterprise want. An interesting dialog at one customer recently went:
Chief Architect: Well if we increase the project budget we can have the pilot done in 2 months.
CIO: Never mind the budget, the business is hounding me for this, do it in one month and they will be happy to pay.