In a world dominated by all things social, companies are faced with the challenge of becoming a social enterprise. Many are embracing the social opportunity, but others might give up competitive ground, or worse watch customer base and margins shrink at increasing rates because consumers prefer to do business with companies that engage and are transparent.
There are many facets to the social enterprise, and some are easier to execute than others. Monitoring the twittersphere is not all that difficult. And really, are there any serious companies that do not have Facebook pages? These things are relatively easy to do.
To become a truly social enterprise, companies should not only monitor and respond through social channels as a means of crowd control. Instead, enterprises must actually listen, hear and collaborate at all levels with the crowd for the betterment of all, which may require different levels of technology and commitment by the enterprise.
Commitment starts with accepting that there are a lot of people who know a great deal about your company that are not on the payroll. Equally important is leveraging the experience and expertise of those people in every aspect of your business; from R&D, to support channels, and even when establishing policies and procedures.
By taking down barriers that prevent employees from seeing and interacting with the experts “out there”, employees have direct access to a vastly greater base of knowledge and experience (and opinion), which have a direct bearing on business decisions.
Consider last year’s public meltdown when Bank of America announced a new $5 monthly fee for debit cards. It seems highly unlikely the new policy would ever have aired outside of the company, if decision makers had been committed to the idea that some of the best information about how the organization should manage its business was “out there.”
This missive isn’t suggesting that a business’s needs should be thrown to the wind in favor of the voice of the customer. Quite the contrary. The point is that a social enterprise not only recognizes the value of knowledge outside its own walls, but also actively seeks the knowledge, and then collaborates with the experts.
And so, as you look at the “life of a policy or procedure” infographic, keep one thing in mind. An enterprise’s well-being is assured even though all information flows both ways and processes are forever iterating because employees are the final test before any decision is made. Plus, you’ll have the comfort of knowing that decisions were in one form or another blessed by your customers.