Social Day at TSW: Customer Communities Providing Strategic Value
Yesterday at TSIA’s Technology Services World Conference we featured a full day’s worth of social content, consisting of presentations, case studies and panel discussions around online customer communities and social media. I’ve heard some of the sessions were standing room only, so I look forward to seeing the actual attendance counts for the sessions. (Stay tuned for a post on top attended sessions from yesterday.)
I moderated 2 sessions yesterday that were both interactive, and it is always enlightening to see what questions are asked by the audience. The first session was a panel discussion, “Stump the Panel: Empowering Service Organizations to Take Community to the Next Level,” with some real-heavy hitter panelists. Rob Shapiro drives social strategy within Oracle services, and has lots of hands-on experience managing expert communities. Joseph Cothrel from Lithium Technologies has been a community advocate for a decade now, with a deep understanding of B2B support communities. Scott Hirsch from Get Satisfaction rounded out the panel; Get Satisfaction won the 2013 Vision Award at Service Revolutions at our Spring event for their innovative community platform.
Each panelist gave a short presentation, then we opened it up for audience questions. We had a good discussion on topics including how to screen and recruit social savvy employees, how to encourage use and adoption by both employees and customers, private vs. public communities, and a lot more. We awarded $25 casino chips to the audience members who asked the most thought provoking questions.
My 2nd session was “Social Media: The New Customer Service Channel,” with Carl Knerr Director of Services Offer Management for Avaya. Carl gave a great overview of social media channels and use cases for customer interaction. What I took away from the session was even though B2B companies don’t have as many use cases for supporting customers via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., there are customer conversations about your products happening in these channels, often with very visible and influential customers, and you are ignoring them to your peril.
I believe that customer community management is a key capability that service operations have to master. While I’ve talked to a few companies who have executive support and guidance for social programs, unfortunately many companies have yet to see the light regarding social, viewing it as just another channel. But at this conference I’ve heard example after example of how communities are becoming critical elements in customer relationships, identifying passionate customers to help you in renewal cycles, providing valuable insight into customer impacts to help prioritize bugs and enhancement requests, as well as some early data indicating customers active in communities are more satisfied and loyal than customers who are not socially engaged.
And as I always say, if your customers aren’t demanding this today, tomorrow’s customers will absolutely be insisting on community collaboration, and we are hearing that more firms are evaluating a vendor’s community as part of product selection.
Thanks to everyone who attended our social sessions and asked questions and participated in discussions! Always great to see passion around a topic! And as always, thanks for reading!