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Sleep Number’s Engagement with Empowered, Connected Customers

You have probably been in hundreds of conversations like this, either as a participant or the originator.

sleep number bed customer inquiry

Someone is considering a product and asks a question in a social forum. They get answers. Their purchase decision is heavily influenced, one way or the other, by the opinions of their peers. Most of the time, the companies in question don’t participate in the process.

Read through this thread of comments.

sleep number customer forum

In this situation, you have:

  • one prospective consumer asking a question
  • another prospective consumer asking for similar input
  • one brand detractor
  • two brand promoters
  • one brand advocate

Opportunities Missed By Brands

Social interactions like this are happening in greater abundance. GE Capital Retail Bank’s Major Purchase Shopper Study 2013 found that more than 80% of consumers use online resources to research products and brands before buying. This figure shows a 20% increase over the previous year.Instead of going into a store to evaluate products, connected consumers going to their computers and tablets. Before these individuals even step into a store, most of their decisions have already been made.Unfortunately, many brands are unaware of these conversations — even fewer are taking advantage of the opportunities within them. By choosing not to participate, these companies are also choosing not to build relationships with potential customers, rectify bad experiences and create new brand ambassadors.

What Brands Need to Do

Read through that thread once more. This time, put yourself in Sleep Number’s shoes. Here are some things you might want:

  1. to know of this conversation (you need social listening)
  2. to profile these people’s social persona (profiling)
  3. to direct people to various parts of the company for follow-up action (queues, workflow, automation)
  4. to understand just how valuable your promoters are (CRM integration)
  5. to reach out to the prospective consumer (engagement)
  6. to see how your efforts have succeeded or failed (reporting)
  7. to put an offer in front of the prospective consumer (paid ad)

Every brand has different needs, and yours may not align with the needs of Sleep Number in this scenario. However, social media has the potential to affect every brand, by propelling it forward or anchoring it down.

Empowered customers are connecting with companies and one another through social media. They’re giving brands an opportunity to nurture and grow these social relationships. The rest is up to brands.

To find out more about the power of the connected customer, check out our recent report on the changing social landscape. Download your copy of The Social@Scale Journal.

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  • The first problem is that people make these types of comments restricted to friends, so social media listeners can't get to them. Not so in Twitter, and mostly not in Google+, but Facebook is more closed as friend sharing is default.

    Either way, while I see how social listening brings value to the company, when you reach number 5, I have to question if this type of information is actionable in terms of lead generation. Is a company going to contact the customer based on social listening? Won't that be perceived as stalking? I can imagine the brand damage, if it becomes public that a company is actively listening to your posts.

    Twitter is different, in that everything is public so people don't expect privacy, but I have to question the acceptance of engagement via social sources like Facebook. What do you think?

  • I think this is a point in time where the poster wanted input from her friends and colleagues - an unbiased third party source. Had they wanted a different response, they may have chosen a separate venue.

    It would make more sense to implement a referral/rewards system.

    Also, Facebook already has a system with companies that customize your ads based on your search history.