Note: Today’s guest post is the second in a three-part series provided by Esteban Kolsky, founder of ThinkJar, a research consultancy focused on customer strategy and CRM solutions. The first post in the series can be found here. InsideView is a client and we have sponsored Esteban’s research on this topic.

In the previous post in this series, generously sponsored by InsideView, we introduced the concept of new interactions between customers and organizations based on outcomes, not the traditional (cyclical) goals of the organization.

In this post I would like to explore a new model for interactions and what it takes to make it work. I’ll explore the details behind the outcomes in the next entry. The research leading to this series was accomplished by discussing with brands, practitioners, consultants, and vendors, as well as other analysts and influencers, how organizations are changing their approach to working with customers.

EstebanPost2Interactions with customers are about more than just completing the transaction. It is about generating long-term engagement, about finding the best way to share information between the parties and to leverage that information to find new and better ways to co-create value at the end.

It is about engendering trust and being able to rely on information exchanged. Over the long-run, this trust translates into engagement. I’ve written more about engagement here.

The traditional customer lifecycle was about delivering an optimized, for the brand, interaction at each of the steps in the lifecycle, but information exchanged was limited, as was the value of the same. This was the guiding principle for the original CRM model. This is what still is being done in at the vast majority of the CRM implementations today. The advent of social networks and online communities meant a dramatic shift in this model.

For the old model to work the brand must be in control and be able to “allocate” the customer to each of the steps as they see appropriate based on limited information available at each interaction. The new customer, conversely,  has more than 60% of the information they need when they approach the interaction (sometimes they may have everything they need). The value the customer can derive from an interaction is practically zero – and without value co-created at the moment of interaction, the prospects for engagement is virtually zero as well.

In this new model which develops inside a continuum (explained in more detail here, but think of a lemniscate instead of a cycle; an infinity loop) the goal is to generate value at each step with a specific outcome (which is always going to be a win-win situation).

These outcomes ensure that even if there is no final resolution (or engagement over the long run) significant value is created at each stage that can then be used to move to the next step – or used in the future to generate better interactions.

Indeed, the concept of once-and-done (or trying to accelerate resolution for the purpose of doing more or faster) for interactions is gone and each interaction, each step the company takes in building long-term engagement with a customer, has co-created value for both.

To find out more about these interactions, what they mean, and how we can use them stay tuned for the third post in this series.

What do you think of this model? Do you see yourself adapting your processes to accommodate this thinking? Have you done something different already? I’d love to hear you thoughts, so please post a comment below.

Disclaimer: InsideView is a client and they have generously sponsored this research. This research was conducted as part of my sponsored research model, where kind and generous clients pay me to do research I needed to do anyways and in exchange they get to use the content and their name associated with it. If you know me, and my work, you know this research is continuation of work I’ve done in the past few years – and that no one, even sponsors, get a saying in editorial control or content. In other words, they kindly sponsored me to write what I find out there.

About the author

Esteban Kolsky has over 25 years experience in customer strategy and CRM solutions. Prior to founding his consultancy, ThinkJar, Esteban spent eight years as a Gartner analyst. Esteban is an industry speaker who has presented in more than 15 countries, and has engaged in literally thousands of customer conversations that, combined, give him a solid perspective to align research with real world positions. Esteban was also previously named by CRM Magazine as an “Influential Leader.”