By Rex Hammock
Founder and CEO

Earlier this week, I heard Cisco Systems Chairman and former CEO John Chambers speak to 700 social marketers who work at some of the nation’s savviest and most successful brands. After hearing Chambers share Cisco’s approach to marketing, these all-star marketers were buzzing in the hallways about how far their companies need to go to truly transform their customer relationships.

While the topic of social marketing can quickly slip into techno-speak and marketing acronyms, Chambers was extremely clear with his message: Companies that thrive in this new order will be those that don’t use technology tools merely to gain likes or generate leads. The companies that thrive will be those with a top-down belief that their entire reason for being is to ensure customers have an unmatchable customer experience.

To Chambers and Cisco, social marketing and customer care should not be considered as remote, siloed departments. To him, blending these two entities must be at the core of the company’s culture.

In Chambers’ presentation, he included a slide that showed Cisco’s infrastructure for serving customers, underscoring the idea that solving problems and providing helpful information are the foundation of long-term relationships.

Illustration: Hammock Ic.
Source: Cisco

I found it fascinating to see a company develop a model that focuses its digital marketing tools on customer experience and satisfaction instead of lead generation and likes. To separate the power of publishing to retain customers from the strengths of content marketing to satisfy their current needs is an insight into the ways different media can complement one another. Few marketers without a publishing background have been able to articulate it so well.

Bottomline for Marketers: The technology that enables social media is in its infancy, and it’s often frustrating and disconnected. But leaders dedicated to providing an unmatched customer experience can change a company’s culture today. And the ROI on that change? According to Chambers, a 5 percent rate of customer retention will translate into 75 percent increase in profitability. Another metric to consider, Chambers said, is that 80 percent of your future income will be generated by 20 percent of your current customers. That’s one heck of a bottomline.


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