Members in a number of LinkedIn groups recently have decried the overt salesy-ness that LinkedIn has become.
And it’s true. From sock puppets to zombie posts, LinkedIn has become more brute force than quality conversation.
Where readers once sought answers and insight, now they must wade through blatant promotions and camouflaged posts that redirect out to questionable blogs before they find worthwhile content on LinkedIn.
This shameful state is regrettable because LinkedIn has the potential to fill an on-going need in B2B customer-supplier relationships – that of suppliers educating customers. This is especially true for complex topics requiring longer learning curves, such as service management.
And while LinkedIn is not the only place for suppliers to educate customers, it is the most accessible, affordable, and until recently, the most creditable.
Yet despite getting lost in sales’ laziness and sleaze, the need to educate customers remains and is more important than before. Here’s why.
Outsourcing’s Hidden Side-Effect
What could be easier for customers? Procurement bids out a service contract and the winning supplier is on the hook for performance. Customers don’t have to know how to manage service because that’s in the supplier’s court.
Vendor management is easy. Even novice customers can sit in Quarterly Business Reviews, review KPIs, and pass judgment on suppliers’ service performance.
Except when the complexities of the real world step in.
For example, when a customer demands a price reduction that degrades the supplier’s ability to meet end-users’ service expectations.
The effects of cost-reductions to a service aren’t black-and-white, causal equations. There are many moving parts to a service and cost-reductions can bastardize delivery down a slippery slope to a last and final failure.
And all because a customer lacked service management education. Vendor management skills alone are not enough for customers to make good judgments about optimizing service performance. Specifically as the Total Cost of Service Ownership (TCsO) is only realized over the duration of the contract.
Suppliers Must Continue the Good Fight
While LinkedIn was once an exceptional place for suppliers to educate interested customers, its current sales bloat now makes that much harder.
The challenge for suppliers is to rise above the sales noise on LinkedIn and continue to share worthwhile content. And despite the unpleasantness of short-sighted sellers, the education of customers is exactly what must continue – for the betterment of B2B customer-supplier interactions.
This article, “A Problematic Need: Suppliers Educating Customers” was originally published in LinkedIn.