Posted tagged ‘community’

TSIA’s 5th Annual Social Support Survey is NOW OPEN!

December 1, 2014

Social support is becoming a standard part of technical support operations. 73% of companies now have an online community in place for customer discussions, and 46% of technology companies are supporting customers via social media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter. This is the 5th year that TSIA has launched a survey to measure adoption of social support and identify best practices related to staffing, training, service level agreements, and program ownership. The survey is open to all support professionals, will only take 6 minutes to complete, and everyone who completes the survey will receive a copy of the resulting research report, “The State of Social Support: 2015,” to be published in Q1 2015. The survey is open until midnight, December 31st.

The survey contains three sections:

  • Demographics. These questions ask basic questions about yourself, including how social savvy you consider yourself, and which channels you prefer to use when needing support for a product problem.
  • Community. These questions ask about your online customer community or discussion forum, such as how many resources are required for forum moderation, if you have a service level agreement (SLA) for community posts, whether registration is required to read community content, and some technical questions such as CRM integration and single sign-on.
  • Social Media. These questions ask about your approach to supporting customers via social media channels, addressing staffing, training, social channels supported, incident handling, and overall obstacles to social support.

The survey is open to everyone, not just TSIA members, so please consider participating. The more data the better! I look forward to identify changes since last year’s survey, particularly with social media channels expanding and many company’s programs now maturing. There is also a focus on social listening in this year’s survey, which has emerged as a hot trend in member inquiry conversations.

Here is the link to take the survey: 

I’d like to give a special shout out to Carl Knerr, Director, Services Offer Management, Avaya, and Doug Pluta, Project Manager, Customer and Business Insight, Cisco Systems, for the input they provided on social listening for this year’s survey. Greatly appreciated!

Thanks to all of you for reading, and please tell your friends about the survey!


Coming Soon: TSIA Community Benchmark

July 16, 2013

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!

RightNow’s Acquisition of HiveLive: Industry Implications

September 10, 2009

My first day back from vacation was a very busy one with RightNow’s announcement on Tuesday that they had acquired social platform vendor HiveLive.  I can’t remember the last time I had this many calls and emails from the press and other industry folks about an announcement, and it is no surprise:  this is big news.  Why? Not only did RightNow show the importance of communities as an emerging customer channel with this transaction, they also paved the way for a new round of industry consolidation–today’s end to end customer service platform must include community features.

I remember attending a regional RightNow user conference in Santa Clara a few years back, and I had an opportunity to spend time with Greg Gianforte, RightNow’s CEO, before the general session.  This was in the early days of Web 2.0, and none of the customer service/CRM vendors had a community strategy yet in place.  Greg said customer demand for discussion forums was just beginning.  Then we walked into the general session, and there was an uproar from the audience pushing for community features in an upcoming release.

Perhaps because RightNow is a pure SaaS product its customers were ahead of Web 2.0 curve.  But I had not seen a group of customers demanding so much so early, and I think this user conference played a role in RightNow’s early selection of Lithium as a community partner and building a really tight integration that defined what “best of breed” integration between self-service knowledgebases and communities should be.

By bringing a full community solution in-house, RightNow is again ahead of the Web 2.0 curve for customer service and CRM vendors.  This acquisition has large implications for our industry, including:

  • Partnering is not enough. Companies may buy one channel at a time, but they shop for a vendor that can support all their channels down the road.  By adding ‘best of breed’ community capabilities as part of their customer service and knowledge management (CS and KM) platform, RightNow has set a standard for end-to-end channel support including communities.  Their CS competitors who have relied on loose “Barney” partnerships for communities, or who have developed low-end community features as a stop-gap measure, will have to up their game.  And for the CS/KM vendors who don’t even have a community strategy in place, you are really behind the 8 ball now.
  • Beyond search integration, to process integration. Companies struggling with community and social networking today are being stymied by process, not technology. For example, how do you begin involving customers in content creation without losing control? RightNow knows the search and data integration points between CS, KM and communities, but what about process integration? How do you transition struggling community users to assisted support? How do you automate taking popular forum content and instantiating it into a knowledgebase? Creating process integration between these two worlds provides ample room for innovation, and I expect we will see some early examples from RightNow and HiveLive by the end of the year.
  • Consolidation begins…again. Let’s face it, there are an over abundance of vendors offering customer service, knowledgebase, intelligent searching, and social networking.  With much of the functionality maturing, there is less differentiation between products than ever before:  most, if not all, can solve your business problems.  Between big CRM vendors (Oracle, SAP, Consona, Netsuite, FrontRange, Epicor, Chordiant, etc.), the CS/KM/search vendors (KANA, nGenera, Consona, eGain, RightNow, InQuira, Q-go, noHold, etc.), the community vendors (Jive, Lithium, SocialText, WetPaint), and the new breed of CS/community vendors (Fuze, Helpstream, Parature), there is a tremendous overlap of functionality, with too many vendors competing for each deal, and discounting driving down profitability. I forsee a great deal of consolidation in the months to come.

What do you think? How important is pre-integrated KM/CS and community? Who did invent knowledge in a cloud? Please add a comment or drop me an email. And as always, thanks for reading!