Guest Blogger Natalie Petouhoff, Ph.D.: Why Customer Communities Work
I've been working on an ROI model for customer service social media, i.e. online communities. As I gain insight into this new frontier, I am amazed. Why? From all the things that you've seen me write and talk about--and if you haven't, you may want to take a look or a listen to a couple--you know that I am B.I.G. on customer advocacy. The customers come first. Without them, there's no business to be worried about.
So in evaluating software, in looking at business processes, organizational change management issues associated with software implementation risks, I've been perplexed by why "we" don't change. "We" here is: companies, system integrators, software companies and analysts. We know what the results will be if we keep doing things the same--Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing things the same and expecting different results--yet we don't seem to understand that we will get more of the same.
The insanity can stop now. Why? While I am still deep in the mix of the calculations, one thing has become obvious:
Customer service communities are being deployed differently than most technology applications. How?
1. The focus is on the customer
2. Executives are talking directly to the customers
3. The focus is more on strategy and management (people part of business) than technology
4. The customer experienced is mapped before designing and deploying the community
5. Voice of the customer is honest, transparent, and direct
6. Companies don't need a enterprise feedback management system or compliance management system
7. Collaboration is effective: There's a genuine sense of belonging and being part of a company/community/making a difference/sharing/helping and its being driven by the customer with the help of a company
8. The customer service communities are providing critically needed information to:
a. Change the customer experience
b. Make process improvements to business
c. Make changes to products within days--not months--and to spot features and functions customers want
d. Supplement website analytics to drive marketing and sales successes, as well as customer service success
What's driving this? In large part it is being driven by three things:
1. The technology vendors in this space are doing things different. They
a. Are not encumbered by cost-center paradigm thinking that most customer service professionals are saddled with
b. Come from driving a better customer experience as a first priority, not as an afterthought
c. Are truthful in packaging the professional services into their business model/ margins and with discussions with the clients so that the communities are wildly successful
2. The Economy
The need to do more with less--not destroy the customer experience, but actually improve it
3. Dell Hell
a. The need to recover from bad word of mouth
b. The need to control word of mouth
Stay tuned. You'll hear more from me on this topic soon. Look for the upcoming research: The ROI of Customer Service Online Communities: The Total Economic Impact of Social Media Uncovers BIG Benefits from Social Media/Web 2.0.
In the meantime, please comment!! I want to hear from every single one of you that has an opinion on this topic: What do you see? What works? What doesn't? What are the top 5 "Got Cha's"? Who's doing it right? What vendors are the best and why? And, of course, why you love or hate customer service and customer service online communities!
+ + + + + + + + + +
Natalie Petouhoff, Ph.D., is a Senior Analyst at Forrester Research, where she serves Business Process & Applications professionals focused on customer service.
Did you enjoy this content? Sign up for our FREE weekly e-newsletter by clicking here!