I found Empowered, by Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler, to be an easy read and that the title of this book is exactly what it infers. Knowledge is power and this book lets people know how to harness that power to succeed.
We all have probably heard the saying “Buyer Beware.” With this in mind, I believe it is the responsibility of the consumer to be informed about a product before making a purchase. Consumers are at an advantage with the technology that is available today and the most up-to-date information is at our fingertips. Consumers are able to research, compare and read reviews before even stepping into a store or going to a website to make a purchase. In some situations the customer might be more informed than the sales person themselves.
The empowerment of consumers means that companies need HEROes (Highly Empowered Resourceful Operatives) to step forward and take the lead. HEROes are actually everywhere in a company. Management merely needs to tap these resources and empower them with the same technology and tools available to the consumer. The thing about a HERO is that they are already most likely using these tools and technology even before seeking permission to use them. They are on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media networks or using an iPad or other mobile device. These HEROes find that using the latest technology helps them work more productively and be more proactive in assisting customers. As stated in the book using unauthorized software or technology may contain some pitfalls such as software compatibility and technical limitations.
In Empowered, Bernoff and Schadler discuss how the Managers, Employees, and IT Department must work together in order to make the right technology and tools available for the HERO to use. By doing so, everyone can be a HERO and empower the Company. Real life examples are used in the book. The authors highlight how social media has changed the way the game is played. Traditional marketing’s main objective was to get the consumer from point “A” to the point of sale. This is no longer the end point.
One thing that a HERO should focus on is respecting the influence of an empowered consumer. Blog postings, forum reviews, and maybe viral videos (i.e. United Airlines baggage) of your product or brand can make your company look good or can tarnish your image. Twitter allows you to monitor your company’s reputation and respond quickly to answer problems that may arise. For example, Best Buy has the @Twelpforce and Network Solutions has @netsolcares on Twitter. Both add a unique customer service experience for their customers, and at the same time provide another source for marketing.
Becoming empowered is no easy task. In fact, as I read in the book, there will be mistakes and growing pains of sorts. The biggest thing for an organization will be a cultural change in being more open and customer centric. As my colleague says “you need to be Johnny the Bag Boy.” Allowing employees to have the freedom and tools to help customers immediately when they need the help, making those employees HEROES to the customers they are helping in that moment.
Image by John DavidGoogle+