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When your service doesn’t come on a silver platter, directly tell someone who can do something about it.
I came across an interesting post this recently on the ever growing trend of companies
putting processes I place to better listen to their customers concerns expressed on social media sites so they can respond more rapidly. While I wholeheartedly support the notion of companies paying greater attention to their customers, I’d like to offer up a different perspective on the issue. Are companies enabling dysfunctional behaviors on the part of customers? Let’s see.
In the article, Maximizing Social Customer Service with Listening Technology, the author points out that due to the trend of customer complaints on social media sites, not only are companies investing lots of human resources, a whole new market is emerging for software products that allow you to better listen and respond to customers who communicate with a company via social media. Getting this right, or at least attempting to, is costing companies a small fortune that many ultimately be a sub-optimal investment for customers. Continue reading →
With social networks and online communities, there is a push to break down silos within
organizations. However, the trend of specializing makes it more difficult for people to establish a full appreciation of what is really happening in those others silos.This trend can also be seen among consultants as well, who no longer bring an outsider’s perspective, but that of an industry expert from all of their specialization.
There is value in the old concept of exposing leaders, current and future, to a broad set of experiences so they become well rounded. This is something to consider addressing as the obvious downsides of the silos are becoming more evident and the investments in thing such as collaboration tools and communities rises.
Maybe you just launched your community a few months ago. Perhaps you’ve been up and running for a while. Either way, now is a good time to ask yourself “How is my community doing?”
How you answer this question depends on your business objectives for online community. One of the exercises that I like to walk our customers through is strategic value mapping, the process of aligning business benefits with a company’s stakeholders. Consider the following example for an online customer support community:
The Strategic Value Map for a Sample Customer Support Community
Read this map from bottom to top – you want to come away with how you can learn from the community and use it as a vehicle to increase Continue reading →
When speaking about internal online social communities, it is common to hear people say that they want ‘Facebook inside the firewall’. No they don’t. Facebook is about having fun and connecting with your friends. In business terms, this is called wasting time. If you view your internal community as Facebook behind the firewall, you will have low adoption because management won’t want their employees wasting time on it, and as a result, will not push its adoption. Employees will believe that management thinks they are wasting time if they use it, so they will avoid exploring its use as a potential business tool.
What companies are really after is a social experience much like Facebook, but instead is targeted towards business objectives that will lead to a heftier bottom line for the company. Here are ten use cases commonly seen in successful online communities that have a clear business focus.
1. Sales Enablement
The use case most obviously connected with impacting the financial performance of a company is sales enablement. Continue reading →
In May, Telligent hosted a webinar with three guest speakers – Kate Leggett from Forrester Research, Inc., Lewis Simons from Cox Communications, and Brendan Cosgrove from Kaseya. While the official title of the webinar was Social Customer Service, a more apt title could have been Customer Experience (through Customer Service) is the New Marketing. This point came through loud and clear from all three speakers.
Kate Leggett started things off by sharing some of the research fromForrester Research, Inc. that really helps build the business case for social customer service. Ninety percent of customers surveyed by Forrester Research, Inc. consider customer experience critical to their company’s success with the majority of them believing its importance to be increasing.1 The facts support this feedback.
When there is a positive customer experience, 70% of buyers demonstrate a willingness to make a subsequent purchase2 Continue reading →
Effective moderation can leave a community manager feeling a bit like Goldilocks in search of the perfect bowl of porridge.
Too much moderation can lead to foregoing one of the key benefits of your community – crowdsourcing the answers to your customers’ questions. Too much moderation includes jumping in to immediately answer all questions or deleting posts that you don’t agree with. You end up discouraging your community members from helping each other and actively participating.
Too little moderation can lead to a community that bears no resemblance to the goals or objectives that you laid out when you started your community.
Customer support is a very common use case for online communities, because, if done correctly, there are tremendous benefits that can be gained. Just think, when your customers have an issue, what better way is there to build a better relationship than to resolve it for them?
The challenge comes in working to profitably scale a high-touch model where knowledgeable people can readily assist in addressing the wide array of topics your customers might have questions about. These questions could be related to your product, its use, and any related product or service that might be used in conjunction with it.
Communities are well suited to rise to the scalability challenge of customer support since they provide several key benefits:
1. Customers are accustomed to and expect to be able to find information via search
A good portion of the vast array of knowledge that is accessible inside your organization can be made available in the community for customers to read on their own time
Public discussions – that previously took place privately – can be made available to read through search for customers with similar issues
The buying process for software sometimes includes some type of trial or pilot to verify that it will meet your intended business need. This process usually comes after there has been a considerable amount of research, and perhaps involved conversation with various vendors. Software demos have been held and existing customer stories explored. You’ve narrowed down the list of potential options and have chosen the front-runner. Now it is time to pilot.
Depending on the scenario, pilots do cost you – in addition to perhaps licenses, they cost you time, mental focus and perhaps credibility points with those you ask to participate. In business, anything that requires an investment on your part deserves a return.
So what is the expected return on a pilot? The acquisition of the piloted software, of course.
If you are going to make the investment of time, energy, focus and dollars in doing the pilot, your objective should be not to just spend time getting to know the software, but also in engaging in the necessary activities to move to the next step in the buying process.
There is a straightforward pilot process that can help you accomplish just that.
McDonald’s sell french fries but it doesn’t sell onion rings. Why?
There is an urban legend that says Ray Kroc’s first beloved sweetheart was killed when a huge burlap sack full of onions fell on her and smothered her. From that day forward he vowed never to support the onion industry and only reluctantly allowed chopped onions to be added to McDonald’s burgers.
For some reason I don’t think that is true, but do think there is a lesson that online communities (and other businesses) can learn from McDonald’s about globalization and localization.
First, let’s talk about globalization since that’s what matters most when talking about onion rings. The business school legend on why McDonald’s doesn’t sell onion rings as part of their standard menu is that the world’s onion supply is insufficient to support the sale of onion rings in their stores globally. Apparently the potato supply is sufficient to ensure that anyone who comes to one of the 33,000+ stores in one of 120+ countries can order a standard french fry. (I know there are some operations issues such as the cost of production, the batter tainting the taste of the oil, and the amount of time the onion rings will stay fresh, but for the purposes of this discussion, let’s just focus on the issues related to globalization.)
As I was flying to Chicago the other day, I experienced two things that really made me stop and question whether people really understand the economics of the companies that they rely on to provide them a paycheck and a living. I was on an American Airlines flight that had 140 or so seats and only 90 passengers. While this was good for me – I got to move out of the middle seat I was assigned to an aisle – I didn’t think it good for the bankrupt airline.
I then overheard the flight attendant comment that she liked the plane we were on better then the one she would be on during the next leg of her trip. A co-worker commented that he understood her liking the other plan better. Then the disturbing part – she commented that it was a good thing the next flight only had 40 passengers scheduled to fly. The two employees then agreed that was a good thing.