Satisfaction: A Disruption to the Corporate Website

I had the pleasure of hanging with the Satisfaction team near South Park (nothing to do with the cartoon) in south of mission street district (SOMA) in San Francisco. South Park is notorious for delivering disruptive and amazing technology to the web space.

Satisfaction is a universal support site where you can support any product from any company using the same website (and same user experience). We know this is important as research indicates that prospects trust the opinion of customers more than any other group.

Get Satisfaction is a site that I’m watching closer than most companies. Why? Because they’re disruptive to the corporate website, and you know how I believe that the Corporate Website is Irrelevant. (see link below)

[Tools like Satisfaction are disruptive to the corporate website. Prospects will be able to witness trusted customers interaction with products — all without the interference of Marketers, Analysts, Media, or Press]

There are groups within corporate marketing departments called customer reference programs, (common in enterprise IT companies) and their job is to harvest the positive testimonials –throw out the bad ones—and use them as sales and marketing tools. Read my post on the impacts of Social Media to Customer Reference Programs. I think the old way of marketing customer testimonials is dead.

Why? Because tools like Satisfaction will let a prospect (someone who wants to buy) the opportunity to see how real customers are interfacing with a product, and also watch how companies will support them in these new environments.

What else is going to be less relevant? Consumer reports by analysts. Why? Information is going to gather ‘bottom-up’ and tools will let real customers tell their own stories, rather than wait for a survey or third party analyst. The web revolutionizes information, and thereby power.

Satisfaction isn’t the only company doing this, I’ve started a list, and I know of at least one other that’s going to do this.

[The folks who are leading the “Enterprise 2.0” movement forget that the most influential websites are the ones that don’t even include the Enterprise]

Maybe I’m crazy, but when I buy, I’m going to research what my peers and my trusted network thinks of a product first, and with the web, it makes it very easy to do.

Time to evolve.

How to stay relevant

There’s many PR, Marketing, and corporate folks that read my blog, so here’s a few tips to stay on top of your game. Find out where your customers are self-supporting, join those communities and be part of it. I’m closely watching the Podtech (where I work) area of Satisfaction, and will stay active.

If you run a customer forum (I did for my last company) get ready to expand your scope as the extranet moves off the corporate domain. The savvy community manager will learn to embrace customers supporting other customers, contact me if you need help.

Related Resources

  • Marketing is not on two domains only
  • Extranets move off the Corporate domain
  • Impacts of the Social Media on the Customer Reference Program
  • The many forms of Web Marketing
  • The Corporate Website is Irrelevant
  • 370Door hanging
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    • bex

      I disagree…

      Sure, its POSSIBLE for people to find reasoned analysis on Satisfaction, but will they? Hell no! Here’s why: its INCREDIBLY difficult to get anybody to write anything useful.

      Companies offer incentives to get good testimony, or even good analyst reviews. Kickbacks-a-plenty in the technology analyst world…

      If I had a mediocre experience, I probably don’t care enough to share… so the relevant advice never gets posted.

      If I had a bad experience, then yes a I would share. However, those folks are written off as trolls.

      And if I were somebody who really really cared about the product — a “maven” if you will — then I’d put such reviews on my own blog and foster my own brand. What’s in it for me to help “Satisfaction”?

      They’re facing an uphill battle to get this off the ground…

    • Bex

      It’s not just about ‘rating’ one’s product experience, but it’s also about fixing issues, sharing and learning with other customers.

      I agree, there will be a small subset of community advocates and activists that will participate.

    • Thanks for the kind words, Jeremiah! Your perspective has been invaluable in developing our business.

      Bex: We started Satisfaction out of our own experience with a small business of a few thousand customers. We provided email-based support, and we spent several hours every day responding to each person because we cared so much. Alas, most of the issues were very repetitive, and we found ourselves saying the same thing over and over.

      Meanwhile, in the comments area of our blog, customers began to ask–and answer!–each others’ questions. Often better than we could. Our presence was helpful but not always required. Satisfaction sprang from this naturally occurring phenomenon.

      Sites like Amazon, Yelp, Tivocommunity.com, and mini2.com illustrate the power of customer communities to provide remarkable content and support. We aren’t inventing anything new there. Instead, we’re channeling existing behavior into something far more useful (in the context of actual customer service) than exasperating forums that frustrate most of us.

      Satisfaction is built on the belief that the center of gravity in interactions between customers and companies is moving outside the corporation. This means providing focused customer service tools that make sense in this new environment, ultimately creating better experiences (and real business value) for both sides.

      And to your question, Bex: We don’t expect most people to care one way or another about “helping Satisfaction.” In most cases the users of a product or service just want to fix a problem, learn how to use a feature, suggest an idea, rant or rave. And we’ll help them do that…with the involvement of core groups of passionate customers and company representatives.

      That’s the plan anyway. We’re very excited about the response so far.

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