Coming Soon: TSIA Community Benchmark
From a research perspective, there are different approaches to researching topics depending on where they are in the maturity continuum. When a topic is brand new and not too many companies are doing it, you have to research the underlying tools and processes and hope for some early case studies. As topics become more popular and mature, you can start doing survey work to identify who is doing what and how they are approaching it. When a practice becomes mature, i.e, highly adopted and best practices are established, it is time to benchmark. This means gathering data from multiple companies to establish averages for common metrics, so companies can compare themselves to their peers, identifying areas needing improvement, and identifying where companies are ahead of the curve and have some pacesetter practices to share.
I started researching discussion forums/online support communities at Forrester around 2004, and the first article I wrote on the topic was “Social Networking Redefines Self-Service Options: Incorporating Forums Into Online Self-Service” in 2005. In the last 8-9 years, forums have gone from a cool idea CEO’s were reading about in in-flight magazines, to a critical customer channel used by more than 80% of TSIA members. With so many companies looking to forums as a way of meeting customer needs for support in a social world, it is time to move to the next research phase, and start benchmarking.
It is my pleasure to announce that at our Technology Services World Conference in October in Las Vegas, I will be launching the industry’s very first benchmark program for support communities, capturing data on community size, growth, activity levels, problem resolution, technology and integration, and multiple indicators of ROI. I created the 50-question survey with input from TSIA members and partners, and have just incorporated the last bits of feedback. Open to all TSIA member companies, you will be able to enter your data in the survey, then schedule a one-hour call with me during which I will reveal how your results compare to industry peers, and talk about approaches to improving any area in which your peers are leading the way. This will be included free with TSIA membership, no additional fees or membership required.
I am planning a ‘soft launch’ of the community benchmark to the TSIA Social Champions group, a group of members who drive social strategy for their companies, to gather some preliminary data to share in Las Vegas. For all you champions, be sure to attend the Social Champions online meeting on Tuesday, July 30th at 10am PT, for more details on the survey and a link to participate. If you are not a member of the Social Champions and are interested, please contact your member services representative.
As the survey progresses, I’ll be sharing some results with all of you. I’m expecting some compelling information on the reach and impact of communities to help companies take their community success to the next level. Stay tuned for more information, and as always, thanks for reading!