You may think that social marketing is all about platforms and tools and photos and likes — and networks. But according to the chairman of the world’s largest networking company, John Chambers of Cisco Systems, “social marketing” is about customer experience; about having a business culture that has a core-level emphasis on providing the best customer experience possible. And what is the key to such a culture? It must start and the top with the owner or CEO.

Last week, I had the opportunity to hear Cisco Chairman and former CEO John Chambers speak to 700 social marketers attending the Sprinklr Summit. The audience was filled with men and women who run the social marketing efforts at many of the nation’s best-known and successful brands. However, after hearing Chambers, there was a lot of hallway chatter among the all-star marketers about how far their companies need to go to truly embrace a culture that can transform their relationships with customers.

According to Chambers, the companies that thrive in this new order will be those that don’t see technology as mere tools for gaining likes or generating leads. The companies that thrive will be those with a top-down belief that their companies’ entire reason for being is to ensure customers have an unmatchable good customer experience with their company.

Cisco Chairman John Chambers | (Photo:

Chambers stressed that small businesses are so close to their customers that providing the best experience to customers should come naturally. And if you look out over the next couple of decades, “small businesses are going to be the primary creators of net new jobs,” Chambers said. The small businesses who grow will be those that embrace the belief that nothing about their business is more important than them providing their customers with an unmatched experience, he said.

Chambers said social marketing and customer care should not be thought of as separate functions. They are the same thing and are at the core of the company’s culture. The technology that enables social media is in its infancy; often frustrating and disconnected. But with the right type of business leadership that is dedicated to providing an unmatched customer experience, you can change your company’s culture today, he said.

And what is the “return on investment” for fully focusing your company on building longterm, deep relationships with customers? According to Chambers, a 5 percent rate of customer retention will translate into 75 percent increase in profitability.

Another metric to consider, said Chambers, is that 80 percent of your future income will be generated by 20 percent of your current customers.

Rex Hammock is the founder of
A version of this article appeared on Idea Blog.

Photos: istock,

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