Findings from the Community Best Practices Workshop

consumer service

[Above: I peered over the balcony to take a shot of the main hall]

I attended the Customer Service is the new Marketing Summit in San Francisco, really a tremendous view, weather, and vibe at the Presidio a converted military base with a great view. (Both my Grandfathers were officers and used to attend events there).

Think about that concept for a second, the new marketing is actually the customer experience. Absolutely, and with social media, friends will tell friends about their experience with a company, thus impacting how traditional marketing used to flow –now it will be direct from customer to prospect.

They handed this company customer pact document to all attendees, please take a look, I think it’s fantastic, and I’ll hold myself to making sure people I talk to in the industry upload this, and that I also follow these rules.

I was asked to give two sessions on Online Community Best Practices (my coverage area as an analyst) and we had a great sessions on contributors at each of the two meetings.

Although I’ll keep the specifics anonymous, we had startups, small companies, large companies from many different walks of life.

I structured the workshop where we’d identify key problems, then would get folks to share their different best practices, and I’d be sure to add my own. I promised to share all the content and here it is:


Findings from the Online Community Best Practices Workshop
Here’s what the attendees at my workshop said were important to them

The Many Objectives of Communities

  • Insight from customers, give them a voice
  • Better experience
  • A social experience, where common folks get to hang out
  • Get users to know that they are a human company, and support
  • Building communities around products, and to learn from customers
  • New users don’t know how to start. Or are unclear of what to do
  • 50 million customers, get them to self support
  • For a low engagement product, how do you get them to be sticky so they are top of line next time it’s time to buy
  • Bringing service innovation to a higher level, getting constituents to collaborate
  • Issues: Raising awareness to get customers to use community, the value is low
  • Improve customer support issues
  • Collaborate and get customers to internal
  • The Many Benefits of having a community

  • Decreased Cost of Support
  • Increased Revenue
  • SEO
  • Improved Loyalty
  • Transparency: less time spent on marketing programs as they use
  • Consumer Trust and improve
  • The many costs of communities

  • Moderation costs
  • Negative discussions, or not dealing with them, lack of control
  • Difficulty monetizing social networks
  • Cost to take action on what customers ask for, closing the loops costs money
  • Development costs
  • Surveys and samples
  • Measurements
  • Different ways with Dealing with Detractors

  • Varies in every situation
  • 1 to Many communications
  • They have a process is in place
  • Make them feel heard
  • Compensate them (depending on severity)
  • Creating a direct feedback place, rather than having in community forums
  • Good practice: Develop process for the different types of detractors
  • One company categorized members to put them into different buckets
  • Having a good tone, being consistent with all members
  • General Best Practices
    In this final topic, I asked all attendees to participate and share what works for them

  • Trust is the foundation of every community
  • Great relationships with members that want to share
  • Make sure every question that is asked gets an appropriate answer
  • Create a year long plan, so it’s effective across the business, thinking strategic
  • Create valuable content
  • Recognize valuable contributors
  • Have knowledgeable moderators
  • Incorporate it into your products
  • Being Human: Make sure that people know that the community manager is a real person
  • Acknowledge people
  • Loyalty programs
  • Focus on experience
  • Quality Content
  • Ask permission: Ask the members if we can reach out and talk to them first
  • Start threads with questions to get the conversations going
  • Help users connect with other users, identify ‘super users’
  • You can never give too much information
  • Encouraging feedback from the community
  • Always have a direct email so it can encourage rapid response
  • Rewarding and recognizing members that have done good work
  • Embrace what the community is actually doing
  • Acknowledge when people are right –even if they are hostile
  • Bubbling up information, turning things into FAQs
  • Internal encouragement for employees (points)
  • Every question that someone else can answer, have it answered by the right person
  • Track Google Alerts, if someone tracks outside the community pull them in.
  • Be transparent, let the community monitor and police itself (rather than the company taking too much control)
  • Reward and thank users that participate
  • Plan and integrate internal knowledge bases
  • At Forrester, I’m publishing a handful of reports on this topic, they will be available to clients, or you can purchase them on the site, they are very, very succint and tell you what to do do have a successful community.

    Didn’t attend the event? Andy took notes Ideas from Customer Service is the New Marketing #3, Christine has captured why Zappos Shares Secrets of 75% Repeat Business Ross Mayfield shares his insight Geek Squad on Marketing is a Tax You Pay for Being Unremarkable, and a few others according to Technorati.


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