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I D C A N A L Y S T C O N N E C T I O N Michael Fauscette Group Vice President, Software Business SolutionsIncreasing Customer EngagementDecember 2012The Internet, enabled by the proliferation of mobile devices, offers new ways of sharing andcommunicating in real time through social networks and social media. New technology is creatingtech-savvy, "social" customers that expect brands to engage, interact, and provide a complete,positive customer experience at every touch point. To engage and service these new prospects andcustomers, companies need to build a comprehensive customer experience strategy. A key part ofthat strategy is providing and facilitating a community where customers can share and interact withthe brand and with each other. Community management software to enable these communities isincreasingly important as a part of the brands customer experience strategy. Companies can provideinformation about products and services, facilitate peer-to-peer interaction and support, nurtureinfluencers to encourage word-of-mouth marketing, and even get feedback about the kinds ofproducts and services that customers are really looking for. In this context, companies need toformulate a high-level customer experience strategy that includes branded communities thatencourage customers to join and to interact and engage with the brand and with each other.The following questions were posed by Get Satisfaction to Michael Fauscette, group vice president ofIDCs Software Business Solutions, on behalf of Get Satisfactions customers.Q. What are the top trends in customer experience, and how do you distinguish between customer experience as a business strategy and the technology that helps support it?A. Refocusing businesses on building a comprehensive customer experience strategy is growing out of a need to change the way companies engage with customers and deal with the new expectations of tech-savvy, "social" customers. Its important to understand the kind of change thats happened to the way people want to interact with each other and with companies, brought about by the ubiquitous hyperconnectivity created by the Internet and the subsequent growth of the social Web. With the consumerization of IT and the rise of the social Web, the way people interact online has changed dramatically, and we see this trend creating customers that want to interact with companies in a more personal, conversational way. Given this reality, companies are recognizing the need to formulate a high-level business strategy that provides a positive experience at every touch point in the customer life cycle and encourages customers to join, interact, and engage with the brand. Strategy has to be actionable, however, and processes and systems must be changed to meet those customer experience goals. A customer experience strategy involves all employees and every business process, but several obvious customer and prospect touch points are very high priority as a company builds out systems and processes to meet the customer experience strategic objectives. Sales, marketing, and customer service processes in particular are critical in providing a comprehensive customer experience. There are a number of different opportunities for improving the customer experience, such as tying yourIDC 1429