The Business Case(-Mate) for Customer Centricity
Andrew Knight does much more than write the Case-Mate blog. Case-Mate, which is a leading manufacturer of cases, holsters, skins, covers and accessories for the Apple iPhone, BlackBerry, iPod, MacBook, cares about its customers and is navigating the social Web to let them know. Online surveys, e-mail, blogs, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube all represent new ways for customers to express what they think and how they feel about your brand. In this increasingly digital age, new media is becoming mainstream, creating new challenges and opportunities for brands to communicate with their customers. Knight discusses how he is leveraging new media to listen and interact with customers and how he considers the customer experience a competitive advantage on the same level as the Case-Mate products.
What business related issue keeps you up at night?
Sales! Other than sales, I would say the overall customer experience on case-mate.com. I am always trying to think of new ways to improve how customers interact with us and how we can better serve our customers.
I also worry about what we don’t know. If we hear from an unsatisfied customer I know 99 percent of the time we are going to be able to take care of that customer. It is the unsatisfied customers that I don’t know about that really keep me up at night! That is why monitoring your brand buzz on social media is so important.
What is the best thing a customer has ever told you?
Well it was not something they said but something they did. A few weeks ago we had a customer who was so impressed with our level of service that he sent one of our customer service reps a dozen roses! Nothing makes my day more than hearing from a customer who had a great experience with us.
Why is voice of the customer important in an economic downturn?
Only the strong survive when times get tough. Customer service is no longer an optional feature. I consider our customer service a competitive advantage on the same level as products.
In your panel you will be discussing Social Media. How did Case-Mate leverage social media?
We have been doing a lot on this front. We launched our company blog (http://blog.case-mate.com) last month. Every company should have a blog! My goal for the blog is it will become the news and information hub for all things "Case-Mate." We post product launches, customer and employee profiles, promotions, job postings, press releases, events and anything else case-mate related!
We got serious about Twitter a few months ago. After a lot of skepticism on my part, I jumped in with both feet and I am the voice of Case-Mate on Twitter. We use it for announcing products, responding to customer questions, dealing with service issues, and taking the pulse of our customers. We also launched http://feedback.case-mate.com last month and it has been a great way of collecting feedback from customers and helping to understand where the demand is for new products
On the YouTube front we have some great relationships with the reviewers. I find the customer feedback we get on YouTube about our products is some of the most helpful we have. We recently had a product issue that a YouTube reviewer highlighted very well and we were able to quickly pull the product, fix the issue and re-launch the product all in a matter of a few weeks!
What are your predictions for how social media will change the voice of the customer (VOC) landscape in the next few years?
Traditional "marketing" is going to become less important. People trust their friends a lot more than they trust me. As a marketer, this is just something that I have to accept and embrace. In today’s world only the best products and services survive. You need to listen to what your customers want and then execute flawlessly to be successful. The internet has made the margin for error a lot smaller.
What are the challenges brands face with social media?
The biggest for me is just keeping up. Social media is exploding and changing every day. Keeping up with all the buzz surrounding your brand can be a real challenge.
Who inspired your career the most?
Right now I would say it was Greg Foglesong. Greg used to run homedepot.com and was responsible for bringing me to Atlanta. He is one of a handful of people in the country who has run an internet business with the size and scale of homedepot.com. I could not have asked for a better leader to teach me the business at that point in my career!
Interview by Blake Landau