Larry Weber and Customer Experience


I really enjoyed listening to Larry Weber speak about his view of how the Web will change in the face of "user-generated media," his catch all for blogs, wikis, podcasts, and everything else you can imagine. Larry is a well known high-tech PR person who's thought a lot about how new media influences the behavior of companies. It was especially interesting to me because of some other ideas and work I've been doing on enhancing customer experience in eCommerce and online service contexts.

One of the key ideas I walked away from in the talk was that commercially oriented Web sites are all about transactions at this point: "click and buy" but that will change and the customer experience will come to dominate. Offline retailers have long known that if you keep the customer in the store another 20 minutes, they'll buy more. Online merchants have had a tough time being that engaging.

Here are a few other interesting points (I've linked to related clips from the audio):

  • The primary job of the CEO is to be an aggregator of community. Larry talks about creating constituency maps. If you do, you'll probably be surprised at how many different groups you're trying to communicate with.
  • Why do companies still publish paper reports to shareholders? Why not have an interactive video with the CEO, the CFO, and some customers? Put it online in rich media.
  • In the same vein, enterprise generated media is critical to the relationship that you have with your customers. Who needs press releases when you can have a blog? "They're always dumb anyway," he says. Why do you need marketing collateral? Podcasts replace interviews and so on.
  • Proctor and Gamble is taking money from the TV budget in order to create blogs and wikis with the goal of getting feedback from customers on what products to develop, how they should function, and what they should look like. He says: "We don't need to know everything about you, we need to know what you want from us."
  • The new success measure is length of engagement If you don't have a social interface that's thoughtful and educative, you're losing money. We have to measure engagement rather than clicks. Get people on your site and have a party. Measure how long are at the party.
  • Larry is sick of CEOs saying "I need measurement." What they need is the ability to adjust. We're living in a kinetic world. You can's just throw something out and measure it without being able to change it (and I'd add "in real time"). This is a hard job.