Web 2.0 (a.k.a. Web And Weberer)

This wouldn’t be a real blog without at least one entry about Web 2.0. I’ve actually touched on the related topic in a previous post called The Death Of Web Pages? Great! — but that wasn’t enough to be a real “Web 2.0” post. So here goes another blog post on Web 2.0…

To begin with, I hope you get my allusion to the movie sequel Dumb and Dumberer, which I really liked (despite its horrible reviews). It’s not that I think Web 2.0 is dumb (or dumberer), but I do think that they’re both packed with a whole bunch of silliness.

Let me start by saying that there are a number of very interesting things happening that are classified as Web 2.0. Social networking sites (like MySpace and Facebook); consumer-generated communications (blogs and product reviews); rich Internet applications (with technologies like Ajax and Flex); and aggregation technologies like RSS. All together, these things are definitely adding new ways for people (especially younger consumers) to interact online.

I’ve even heard the terminology being used around CRM — hence the new moniker “CRM 2.0.” But this is where I need to draw the line. Yes, Web 2.0 has some interesting opportunities for many businesses. But for most firms, it’s not nearly the most important thing they need to think about when it comes to their customers. Frankly, Web 2.0 hasn’t changed how you need to think about customer interactions. The fundamentals of customer experience remain the same: know more about what your customers need and figure out ways to better satisfy those needs. This is all about shifting your thinking from inside-out to outside-in.

But this isn’t new. As a matter of fact, it’s the same advice that we’ve been giving Forrester clients since the late 1990’s. Here’s a figure from a report in 2000 called Scenario Design.

 Sceanrio Design from 2000

In this report, we framed three key questions:

  1. Who are your target users?
  2. What are their goals?
  3. How can you help them accomplish those goals?

It turns out that we still push organizations to ask and answer those same three questions. I published an update to that report in 2004 called “Scenario Design: A Disciplined Approach To Customer Experience.” The report provides an updated argument for relying on those same three questions. And, yes, I am considering publishing another update to that report — which will absolutely reinforce the importance of those same three questions.

So, here’s how I put Web 2.0 in context:

After you figure out who your target customers are and gain an understanding of their needs, and then uncover their true goals in working with you, then you can apply Web 2.0 capabilities (along with all other capabilities) to help satisfy their needs.

The bottom line: Web 2.0 (and all of it’s “XYZ 2.0″companions) may enable companies to better serve customers — but only if they better understand them first.

Written by 

I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

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