What is Customer Collaboration? (With Examples)
Today’s customers expect more.
More personalization, more convenience, more options, and more flexibility. According to Salesforce, 66% of customers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations, and 68% of customers expect brands to demonstrate empathy.
Customers today want you to personalize their entire experience and make them the center of your universe.
But, to make this happen, it is no longer enough to just add more communication channels or improve customer service. Such a change needs a shift of mindset –
The age of customer communication is over, and the age of customer collaboration has begun.
What is customer collaboration?
Customer collaboration is a new way of interacting with your customers that involves using the power of digital technologies to create an immersive and collaborative customer experience.
Take Suitsupply, a creator of custom-tailored, bespoke suits, for example – in 2020, they implemented digital meeting rooms that enabled them to recreate the high touch, in-store shopping experience online. Customers could meet and collaborate with personal shoppers on the Suitsupply website to browse clothes selections together using co-browsing technology.
The famed French fashion store – Galeries Lafayette, has also implemented remote personal shopping platforms with digital meeting rooms that enable you to speak with personal shoppers on live video and select your favorite luxury clothing.
Interestingly, this phenomenon is not limited to the B2C industry. According to Gartner, by the end of 2021, the total number of business-to-business digital commerce transactions is expected to overtake the total number of B2B direct sales transactions, and by 2025, 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur in digital channels. To optimize the sales process through these changes, B2B organizations will implement digital sales rooms that blend the physical and digital sales experiences and allow customers and salespersons to collaborate with one another.
B2B organizations’ digital sales rooms will enable salespersons to intelligently interact, collaborate and influence the buying process with a customer.
Gartner, 2022 Strategic Roadmap for B2B Digital Selling
Customer collaboration examples
Conversational marketing, also known as conversational commerce, is a method of marketing that involves talking to customers rather than at them. It refers to the use of multiple channels like chatbots, live chat, voice assistants, and browser-based video chat to guide your customers through the customer journey. Instead of passive marketing campaigns that deliver one-way messaging, the goal of conversational marketing is to actively engage customers in interactions with your company.
According to Zendesk, 32% of businesses have already implemented conversational services, while 37% of businesses are in the process of doing so. Conversational marketing, thus, is an incredible scalable opportunity to develop deeper relationships with your customers while increasing conversions, and is a must if you want to create an empathetic and collaborative environment for your customers.
Customer co-creation is the process of collaborating with your customers in a problem-solving or ideation process to get fresh ideas, solutions, or customer input.
LEGO used this approach to great effect by launching LEGO Ideas. Since then, they have received over 1 million suggestions, with fans upvoting the most popular ideas!
Miro has also created an incredibly successful Miroverse, where Miro users come together to share designs and templates that are then made public for everyone to use.
Customer communities are platforms where users interact with each other and with brand representatives. Building thriving customer communities is a great way to collaborate with your customers and involve them with the brand. You can also turn your most engaged customers into moderators who end up helping your customer service team by answering questions frequently.
Social media engagement
Passive posting no longer works for customers. Customers need to feel empathy from brands to stay and feel engaged. Social media accounts should be used to actively engage and collaborate with customers. Apart from reviewing and replying to comments and DMs promptly, there are several initiatives that brands could take to collaborate with their customers:
- Conduct polls: You can conduct polls to ask for customer feedback on products, ideas, or industry news.
- Organize giveaways: Brand giveaways are a great way to engage your customers. The best practice is to ask your customers to tag someone in the comments, follow the brand, and save and like the post to get a chance to win the prize.
- Create brand ambassadors: You can incentivize users to act as ambassadors. Your most engaged customers would get prizes to post about you and can also be featured on your page via posts or full-length interviews.
- Post user-generated content: User-generated content deeply impacts the final stages of the buyer’s journey, and influences your audience into making a purchase, since it acts as an authentic form of social proof. Additionally, it makes your customers feel loved and involved.
Visual engagement refers to real-time collaboration with customers on channels that incorporate a dynamic visual element – according to Frost and Sullivan
Studies show that customers clearly prefer the visual channel over chat and voice, and so does our behavior – just look at the fastest growing social media – Instagram, Tiktok, and Snapchat are all focused on the visual medium.
There are 4 types of visual engagement – Video chat, Co-browsing, Screen sharing, and Annotations, and either of these tools can help you build a stronger relationship with your customer. Here at Surfly, we are particularly proud that our Surfly session includes all 4 of these features – making it the ultimate visual engagement tool to improve customer collaboration.
To find out more about visual engagement tools and to understand which tool your business should invest in 2022, you can access the full Frost and Sullivan report for free.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Customer relationship management is a strategy used by companies to manage interactions between themselves and their customers. CRM tools, like Salesforce or Hubspot, help companies manage, store, and analyze these customer interactions.
If you are interested in customer relationship management, you might also want to read more about customer relationship marketing, a sales approach focused on building a long-term, two-way relationship with customers.
Best customer collaboration platforms & software
Customer collaboration platforms, also known as customer collaboration software, help you create a collaborative relationship with your customers. Use this list as a guide to understand which tools might suit your customer engagement strategy:
Hubspot CRM is an effective tool to improve customer collaboration. You can track customer interactions automatically – across every channel, and you get a universal inbox to view, assign, manage, and reply to every omnichannel customer conversation from one place. You also get reports that help you analyze customer behavior.
Salesforce is the undisputed leader in the CRM field. Apart from the CRM, they also have a customer service platform, and AI powered analytics. Salesforce provides a 360-degree view of each customer so you know exactly how to serve them with a hyper-personalized approach.
Surfly’s visual collaboration tool enables you to co-browse, screen share, video chat, and annotate documents with ease. You can create a collaborative and immersive experience for your customers on any website or portal with Surfly, and the best part – no setup or installations are necessary! Surfly has been built as a plug-and-play solution to create collaborative and compliant digital journeys on your existing platforms.
Hootsuite is a social media management tool that provides you with a dashboard view of all your social media accounts that you can then effortlessly manage. Easily reply to comments, tweets, or messages by customers, or automatically schedule and curate hundreds of posts.
The entire Google Suite of tools has powerful collaborative elements that can be used for your customer collaboration initiatives. Use Google forms to create surveys or interviews, while Google slides, sheets, or Docs can be used to publicly provide information for co-creation initiatives.
Miro is an online whiteboard platform that helps you collaborate with multiple users on projects and tasks. Use Miro to co-create with your customers and brainstorm ideas together.
Customer collaboration is no easy feat, but has become a must in today’s day and age when customer expectations are at an all-time high, and competition is higher than ever. You can use some of the initiatives mentioned in our customer collaboration examples list to begin your transition into the customer collaboration mindset from the unidirectional customer communication mindset.