It took about 10 years to see wide adoption of email automation tools for technical support. Web chat, popular in the consumer world, accounts for less than 2% of enterprise hardware and software incidents. But this doesn’t mean enterprise support can’t quickly adopt new customer channels, and the perfect example is the online discussion forum. I first surveyed members in 2007 to find out adoption of forums, and as you can see in this graph, TSIA members have definitely been rapid adopters of this technology:
A third of members had a forum live in 2007, jumping to almost half in 2008, up to 57% last year, and based on planned spending I’ve estimated forum adoption in 2010 will be over two-thirds of members, closing in on 70%. My 2010 Member Technology Survey will be launching in the next couple of weeks, so soon I will have accurate 2010 numbers to share.
The problem with being an early adopter is a lack of best practices and unproven ROI. In 2007 and 2008, all anybody asked me was what online community features they should have and what vendors offered the best products. As soon as the economy went to hell, the member inquiries in late 2008 and in 2009 turned to ROI and best practices. Today, my top FAQs related to online communities and emerging channels are: (more…)