What exactly does user empowerment mean?
Customer empowerment (German: customer empowerment, customer activation or strengthening of customers) describes a strategy that pursues more personal responsibility and participation on the part of the customer. The strengthening of his position relates to decisions, codetermination and various opportunities to participate in the company's value creation process. In customer empowerment, the customer is seen as an integral part of the value chain. Another synonymous term is consumer empowerment.
General information on the topic 
The role of the customer has fundamentally changed with the advent of new digital possibilities and the globally networked Internet. Web 2.0 changed both the shopping and information behavior of customers. While the value chain in traditional marketing was based on the assumption that the customer is just a consumer who only needs to be convinced of one product, this is different with customer empowerment: Customers are actively and passively involved in company processes in a wide variety of ways and take one new role. This term is therefore also closely related to terms such as crowdsourcing, customer engagement, prosumer or influencer marketing.
The interests, wishes and needs of the customer are taken seriously, insofar as they can represent valuable input for the company. In customer empowerment, the value of a customer is therefore not measured by the actual or future income that he brings to the company, but by the fact that he participates in the company in a wide variety of ways. The way in which he can have a say is decided by the company and, to a certain extent, also by the channel through which communication takes place. The touchpoints between customer and company are different: There are different possibilities for feedback within social media, email marketing or rating portals than is the case with interactive websites, special campaigns or apps. The goal is always to increase customer engagement and to give them a feeling of active participation. In order to enable an interaction, companies have to offer him the appropriate opportunities to do so.
Types of customer empowerment 
The possibilities of customer engagement can be viewed against the background of the following developments. Many-to-many communication takes place in Web 2.0 and especially in social networks. This means that many users communicate with other users. A company is also to be regarded as a user. At the same time, many other users can see large parts of this communication because it is conducted publicly. This feature gives information a special dynamic that can be used both positively and negatively. Whether newsjacking or shitstorm - companies must always react quickly and pay particular attention to how they act. 
Customer engagement also includes a multi-channel approach to pick up customers at different touchpoints. Customer groups and segments are characterized by a multitude of different aspects. Not every customer uses a desktop computer to learn about a product. Young customer groups in particular tend to use mobile devices and are often active in social networks. These different aspects result in the following possibilities for customer empowerment:
- Feedback: Customers are asked for their opinion and can also write testimonials and give ratings. This can also be done specifically through a direct dialogue in order to receive critical feedback and to be able to deal with it discreetly.
- Co-design: Customers become designers, give impulses for the development of a product and design their own model series.
- Configuration: Customers can put together their own products and services - according to their interests, wishes and needs.
- Influencer Marketing: Customers can also be co-marketers. Some customers are seen as experts in certain niches and industries. They are considered influential and can act as an intermediary between companies and potential customers. The impression of sponsorship should be avoided here.
- Word of Mouth Marketing: If customers are convinced of a product, they can share their positive experience with other potential customers. This process can be influenced by sponsorships, incentives or special offers for loyal customers.
- Community Management: Especially in social networks, companies run the risk of not hitting the right note from the customer's point of view. Depending on the brand, image and customer segment, communication should be carried out differently.
Advantages of customer empowerment 
- Quality: Companies can significantly improve the quality of products and services through customer feedback. Service, customer care and sales also benefit from it.
- Competitive advantage: By using modern strategies such as customer empowerment, companies can be perceived as pioneers in their industry. Keywords: technology leadership and brand management.
- Diversity: Through different touchpoints as a result of a multichannel approach, not only can different channels be used for communication, but different types of Internet users can also be addressed.
- Philosophy: Customer empowerment is also a democratic approach that strengthens the similarities between companies and customers through participation.
Importance for online marketing
For companies that rely on a business model in Web 2.0, customer empowerment is a trend that must be followed. Customers are asked to participate, which automatically leads to more engagement. If this is now viewed from the perspective of online marketing, it becomes clear that it is also about interaction rates and other KPIs. The concept also includes the strong tendency towards a democratic Internet that belongs to all users and is not guided by commercial interests. This aspect is extremely important to users, which is why companies should position themselves for the future with an appropriate strategy.
The engagement generated by customer empowerment can be seen as a valuable insight that helps the company understand how customers behave. It appears that users want to be included in the value chain. You would like to have a say in various areas and provide insights into purchasing behavior, user-generated content and, under certain circumstances, recommendations for other customers. Based on this knowledge, marketing can be realigned in order to increase customer lifetime value - also and especially with regard to future buying behavior.
- ↑ Turning customer empowerment into action i-scoop.eu. Retrieved on February 12, 2015
- ↑ 9 trends driving the customer revolution visioncritical.com. Retrieved on February 12, 2015
- ↑ Social web, empowerment and user participation from a company perspective journal.kommunikation-medien.at. Retrieved on February 12, 2015
- ^ Rise of the Empowered Consumer mediacom.dk. Retrieved on February 12, 2015
- ↑ Consumer Empowerment hs-pforzheim.de. Retrieved on February 12, 2015
- ^ Future of Work Enabler: Customer Empowerment and Engagement cognizant.com. Retrieved on February 12, 2015
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