Terminology: Customer 2.0

by Barbra Gago on August 2, 2010

As we have seen over the last couple of years, consumer and b2b buyer behaviors have been changing. Quite rapidly in fact. We’ve heard through the musings of social media evangelists that you have to remember that companies are made up of “people” and those people have embraced social media, technology, and everything that makes web 2.0 what it is, and what its continuously evolving into.
When we think of the Customer 2.0 (for B2B) we have to think of them in terms of two identities that are unavoidably intertwined. First, Customer 2.0 is indeed a person, and as that individual person they have buying behaviors and expectations of brands that are dramatically different than before. This shift has happened because of the accessibility of information and the connectivity (to other consumers) that the internet and other technologies have facilitated.
But, the Customer 2.0 has another side, and that’s the B2B buyer. Within an organization, this person behaves differently. While, they may use social media tools to express their opinions about consumer brands (as an individual separate from an organization) they are more reserved when it comes to their representation of an organization. In this situation, it doesn’t matter what “generation” you are in, Generation Y, X or Baby Boomer, generally they all behave the same–as representatives of organizations. Studies have shown about 70% of individual within organizations still use social media, but only at a “spectator” level–so they still consume various types of 2.0 content. Only 20-30% of B2B buyers proactively participate, create or share their experiences, opinions and thoughts (this deeper level of engagement tends to happen more on the consumer side).
When trying to identify your Customer 2.0, this is important to understand, so that you set realistic goals for your organization, and realistic expectations of your customers.
In this Customer 2.0 world, it’s no longer the companies to hold all the information and power, its the customers. It’s now the obligation of the business to stop preaching, and start listening.
Customers are now in control of the messages, when they want them and how. Customers don’t have to listen to you, they can turn you off, “x” you out, or block you. Customer 2.0 wants to be heard, and listened to sincerely. They want to know the brand really cares (this is shown through how you respond, proactively engage and build or improve products they want).
It’s the Customer who now has new tools to complain, or request, or expect even more for brands.
Customer 2.0 wants an experience, not a product. They are socially savvy and can navigate quickly through the tremendous amount of information available. They are only loyal to brands that are loyal to them, and by that I mean the ones who really care about their success and a person within an organization, as well as an individual outside of one.
The beauty of Customer 2.0 is that they are more willing to share information about themselves. This is why they have such high expectations of brands. If I am putting the information out there, for free, you have no excuse not to know what I want, what my challenges are and how to help, communicate and engage me. Customer 2.0 is evolving faster than Company 2.0, so if you want to keep up I suggest you start listening, asking and answering questions, and trying to figure out what you can do to make your customers lives better.
  • http://twitter.com/insideview InsideView

    Nice post and a great definition of customer 2.0.

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