Highlights from opening day of SSPA Best Practices Conference
After months of planning and preparation, today was the opening of our Spring Best Practices Conference, held at the Santa Clara Convention Center. We had several pre-conference workshops today, including mine: “Web 2.0: Key Elements for Success.” I had a great group of members in the workshop, the majority of whom already have a discussion forum for customers in place, and are now looking at even more advanced concepts, including having customers author support content with Wikis. I opened the session giving some stats on forum adoption as a support channel, which obviously differs greatly by age group. I featured three guest presenters, as follows:
- Neil Beam from Sage Software gave us some valuable insights from the launch of their customer communities, powered by Lithium. There are a lot of concerns about customers posting incorrect or negative content–definitely my most common Web 2.0 inquiry topic–and Neil provided a very forward looking view: In a Web 2.0 world, collaboration is king, so if you don’t allow customers to create and comment on content, you will ultimately lose them. Sage is implementing processes to allow customers to submit support content right along with support agents. For those of you attending the conference, Neil will be presenting his full case study on Tuesday at 3:15. Check it out!
- Jay Friedman discussed his 10 best practices for launching communities, and having been involved in both huge consumer communities (including eBay) and non-support communities (he was co-founder of SonicSwap, a music sharing community) he had some great knowledge to share. There were great conversations on topics ranging from executive commitment for communities, to creating celebrities with reputation models, to open vs. closed approaches to user access/registration. Jay is currently VP of Marketing for Audible Magic, which provides information services for digitial media–talk about a hot area of Web 2.0.
- Chris Kollas, Vice President, Business Development, Wetpaint, joined us to talk about the world of Wikis and how they are being used as an extension (and in some places, a replacement) for the traditional structured knowledgebase. Wetpaint has adopted the term ‘social publishing’ to describe what they offer, which I like. Though the early Wetpaint sites were largely entertainment (including most of the TV networks), they are now finding success in high tech, including Dell and Oracle.
I thought the Wiki session would be a bit forward looking for members, based on the reaction to my blog post on the topic, but several attendees were either already using wikis with customers or had a project in the works. I’m not sure why some people have such passionate feelings about wikis for customers being bad, but frankly with the current success rate of traditional self-service at 40%, according to the SSPA benchmark, clearly the current approach isn’t working.
Following the workshop, the conference officially opens with a reception in the Technology Expo, which at 44 exhibitors is our largest ever. Stay tuned for more info this week, I will be highlighting top attended sessions and emerging trends I’m hearing from member 1:1’s. Thanks for reading, and hope to see you tomorrow for my keynote address!