Staple Yourself to the Customer Experience

StaplerToday’s wakeup call was provided by Brian Solis with his new blog post “The 5 Pillars of New Media Strategy.” Brian argues convincingly that we all should stop looking for a magic formula or success recipe to guide us in our social media travails by simply arguing that it all depends on who we are serving or building a meaningful relationship with. While I myself occasionally fall prey to the temptation to offer list type “secrets” such as in “3 Keys To Social Success,” I do agree that too much of the focus is placed on the social media delivery side. As a consequence, the tendency is to be less concerned about how our social media efforts will be received by customers.

Ironically, Brian states that “the formula for success in social media begins with first defining what success is and how it will be measured” which could be seen as the beginning of a formula in itself! Also, his post title and list type conclusion could at the surface be seen as just another set of recipes. However, in fairness to Brian, I think that he distinguishes himself by taking a step back and emphasizing the importance of a deeper understanding of the customer experience or “journey” in their interactions with a company before even considering jumping into tactical advice on how to engage with customers on social media and elsewhere.

This is a point not to be underestimated. To me it also provides a déjà vu moment as his post reminds me of one of the most influential Harvard Business Review articles of the 1990s, the classic “Staple Yourself to an Order” (Shapiro, Rangan, and Sviokla 1992, republished 2004). This HBR article’s focus was on how companies could streamline order fulfillment processes by closely monitoring how a customer’s order would be managed by a company step by step. The article came out in the midst of the Business Process Reengineering movement and served as a precursor to the customer relationship management (CRM) era. The key point of the article is very similar to the standpoint of Brian Solis in that one needs to go the extra mile to truly put oneself in the shoes of the customer before one can clearly see how to best serve that customer. This approach could very well be used also for streamlining customer experiences with a company in the digital age whether those interactions take place on social media or not. So thanks Brian for your insight and I am looking forward both to the shipment of your “What’s the Future of Business” and to your Linked Orange County visit on May 1st!


  1. says

    I think Solis is on to something, but since he explicitly reaches out to business people in general in this post I would like if he’d taken it one step further. In my experience, before you look at either delivery or reception you need to make sure people have really understood the basic principals behind social media.

    A lot of people (also in marketing) lack this, which means being unable to put social media in a historical and/or societal context. As responsible for our social media establishment and development in a big company I think a lot of the unsecurity still steam from a lack in understanding of what social media actually is. Some people still even think it’s a fad that may be gone soon. Though Facebook and Twitter may or may not die, social media is a natural development and maturing of what used to be analogue media and thus will not die. At least not within democratic societies.

    So in my opinion, to be really succesful in social media, a lot of companies still need to learn the basics of why and how social media came to be. Once they do, they will have a much easier road to success when it comes to deliver bits and pieces for the new era of media.

    • says

      Thanks Anders for a thoughtful comment and I think you are right in that it is difficult to go into too much in terms of specifics for people who are still either inexperienced or outright skeptical towards the value of social media and what it can do for businesses. Still, I think that some pioneers even within an organization which is not fully adopting the principles, need to pave the way by providing some good examples that can inspire others. That is, perhaps working hard on both ends but you are right, it is still an educational challenge to a large extent, will keep me busy for a while longer I guess :)

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