2013 is the year of the social customer

David Olsen
Jan 7, 2013 · 2 min read

In 2012, social media presented new challenges in delivering effective customer service. In 2013, the social customer will emerge as a true collaborator, and help you unlock the hidden value of your customer service.

As companies like GE have found, when your customer community grows, collaboration also grows between customers, partners and third parties alike. Key to GE’s success has been the implementation of Salesforce Chatter Communities. Unlike existing self-service online communities, this platform allows GE to bring together customers, partners, and internal resources to unlock a customer ecosystem with positive network effects.

Key Benefits of an online customer community:

  • Increased customer satisfaction and evangelism (+revenue)
  • Knowledge base increases product value (+revenue)
  • Fewer customer service interactions “call/email deflection” (-costs)
  • More “no contact” issue resolutions (-costs)
  • Crowd sourced and curated content for inbound marketing (+revenue)
  • Organic inbound links as part of your search engine optimisation strategy (+revenue)

[caption id=”attachment_192" align=”aligncenter” width=”400"]

Forrester - The ROI Of Online Customer Service Communities
Forrester - The ROI Of Online Customer Service Communities

Forrester — The ROI Of Online Customer
Service Communities[/caption]

Sounds great, let’s do it!

Before jumping in, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Internally, has your organisation embraced the ENGAGE framework?
  2. Would stakeholders be resistant to publicly sharing your product’s issues? If so, develop a plan to achieve buy-in and overcome concerns.
  3. Is your customer community network a ‘matrix’ or evangelist ‘hubs’ with spokes? (A matrixed community is more likely to be self-sustaining).
  4. Measure twice, cut once: Will you use cost deflection metrics? Net Promoter Score? Leads from community content? At the very least, collect the data to make these calculations from day one, even if the final metrics evolve over time.

Where now?

With these pillars in place, you’ll have a solid foundation for success. You may even consider opening up the planning process for your social customer platform to existing customers and potential community members — since they will ultimately determine its success in the end.

Make sure to check out Salesforce’s Chatter Communities and share your favourite online customer service communities in the comments below. Who are the standout performers? Are there any ghost towns out there to learn from?

David Olsen

Written by

The Social Disruption

Social networks and the connected customer

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