Joseph Jaffe set to Flip the Funnel at Digital Day 2010

On November 2nd the 13th Annual Digital Day Conference, presented by the Canadian Marketing Association and Marketing Magazine will be taking place at Toronto’s Allstream Centre.  This “must attend” digital event will bring together a wide range of digital marketing professionals.  

Joseph Jaffe, author of Flip the Funnel, will be one of the keynote speakers. 

I had an opportunity to throw some questions his way.  Here is our conversation:

Outside of just being good and nice to our customers, what are the best ways brands can look after their  customers to best ensure they refer more business?

Being good and nice are not optional extras. They are absolute minimum or price of entry. It’s the ability to recognize and/or reward our best customers (the “I” of Incentivization in the Flipped Funnel) that essentially a) segments our customers in terms of value and b) taps into their passion, advocacy and authentic influence as partners that take this relationship to the next level.

There’s a popular challenge: “who knows your business better: You or your customers?” Why does the answer have to be EITHER/OR; why can’t it be AND? By creating specific Ambassador programs, concierge service outlets, affiliate or reward programs that value not only referrals, but also content creation and conversation itself, brands can build their equity from the inside out i.e. the funnel gets bigger over time; not smaller.

What was your “a ha” moment that inspired  your book Flip the Funnel?

I think it was a logical evolution of my second book, “Join the Conversation,” where I spoke about a shift from talking at, to- and down to consumers, to one where we listened and responded AKA Joined the Conversation already in progress. But then it hit me….”with whom?”

These weren’t just random, aimless conversations with untargeted individuals – there was a much more focused or targeted sub segment, namely customers. At this point, the dam walls burst open and I started to challenge some of the most ingrained and oldest assumptions and “sacred cows” in marketing – led by the flawed traditional marketing and sales funnel. How is that the majority of our revenue comes from existing customers and yet the majority of our budget goes against wooing and chasing essentially total strangers? In these tough recessionary times, that just doesn’t make any sense – it’s borderline negligent.

I believe that customer service is more important than figuring out how to market through “these new social media tools”. What are your thoughts on customer service being an integral part of a brands marketing efforts?

In Flip the Funnel, I make the case that customer service and ultimately, it’s parent “customer experience” will become THE (not even A) key strategic differentiator that will ultimately motivate, influence and convince a consumer to buy from company A versus company B.

In an increasingly commoditized world, it isn’t any of the 4 P’s that count anymore; but rather the C of Customer Service. But this isn’t your grandfather’s customer service anymore – that’s why I introduced 10 NEW rules for customer service that I believe are critically relevant in today’s increasingly digital, connected and SOCIAL world. Whilst customer service itself isn’t new at all, the platform or megaphone that exists absolutely is. This – coupled with a newly found customer activism (or even vigilantism) has rocketed customer service to the head of the strategic planning class in terms of prioritization and importance.

In today’s Twitter and Facebook enabled world, customer service lives “in the now”, “in the public domain” and “doesn’t stop at 5pm on a Friday” to call out 3 of the 10 new rules. Indeed, customer service is the new marketing; the new P.R.; and the new crisis communication. That said, it’s also an incredible opportunity to reward and recognize the true advocates, evangelists and ultimately ambassadors and in doing so, integrate them into the very marketing ecosystem of the brand and organization. This is where retention becomes the new acquisition via customer-centric word-of-mouth, referrals and recommendations and even content creation.

How can social media play a role in effective customer service?

Glad you asked! I believe the REAL role of social media is that of RETENTION.

Using social media to teach an old dog new tricks (the old REACH – or is it FETCH trick) is completely putting the cart before the horse. Social media has given us unprecedented access to our customers and our customers access to us. By unifying both inbound and outbound customer contact; by harnessing the power of community and social networks; and by creating formal (as opposed to contrived) processes and programs that are fueled by passion, sentiment, opinion and ideas, “joining the conversation” or Voice of the Customer becomes part of the very fabric of the R&D and innovation process.

Look at Dell’s Ideastorm or Starbuck’s My Starbucks Idea – both crowdsourcing examples of Flipping the Funnel. It’s time to move beyond the paid-earned-owned equation (led by the notion that social media = FREE media = EARNED media) and instead discover what I call, “non-media” AKA humans interacting with other humans – and by humans I mean “employees-employees”, “employees-customers”, “customers-customers” etc.