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March 29, 2017

Using Communities for Customer Support

By michaelpace on March 18, 2013

Crowd surfing

Overview:




A majority of organizations are using some sort of community based support model or have considered doing such.  The question is, are you seeing the results and cultivating real relationships with your customers?




It is known customer communities can be an incredible source of support, for both your customers and your organization.




In this episode, I have invited Michael Pace (Customer Support & Community Management Executive) to join myself on Voice of the Customer Radio to discuss “Community”.




Objectives:

 

  • Learn about communities and community management for all levels of the enterprise
  • Uncover the tremendous benefits of this unique “self” service tool
  • Step by step assessment guide on how to get started
  • Technical options available for you

 

Questions  Reviewed:
What is a community or support community? And how are they beneficial?


How do they impact engagement? C-Sat? Reducing Costs? Driving top line growth?


How did you get involved in communities?


Where do you start?


Once you are up and running, how do you keep your customers engaged?


Metrics?


How do you get executive buy in to pursue?


People – what kind of people do you need to be community managers? How do you hire?


What kinds of tools are available?


Are there any resources to help get folks started?






Listen to internet radio with execsintheknow on Blog Talk Radio



Execs In The Know promotes the capabilities of global “Customer Experience” or “Service Leadership” professionals around the world. 

Their model is to “serve” and be an “advocate” for providing awareness, facilitating networking opportunities, offering talent reach and highlighting the significant accomplishments this industry has to offer.

My 3 All Time Favorite Communities (& Why)

By michaelpace on November 26, 2012

Great CommunitiesI’ve used a lot of analogies to help explain communities and community management to executives and business owners:

–    A community is not a sandbox for your customers to play in.  Nothing grows in a sandbox.  Think of it as a garden.  A garden requires structure and planning, needs to be seeded (with content), weeded (for trolls), and as it grows you need to manage it differently.

–    Martha Stewart would be an amazing community manager.  If you think of your community as a party venue for your customers, your company is the group hosting the shindig, and the community manager is the party host.  The party host sets up, lines up the entertainment, provides the beverages and apps, makes introductions to like party-goers, and kicks out the guy with the lampshade on his head.  Over the course of the party, some attendees (super users) start picking up duties like coat check, welcoming, and making beer runs.

But sometimes even the best analogies and metaphors cannot tell the story like actual examples.  Whether it is help people understand communities and community management or just for my own personal enjoyment, here are my 3 All Time Favorite Communities. (In no particular order)

Lost

Oh, how I miss Lost.  I miss Lost for the mind bending episode turns, getting to know the characters, and the mystery of the show.  Were they in purgatory, or hell?  What is in the hatch? What was that running around the woods, maybe it’s a dinosaur.  The first two seasons, I was lost too.  Then I started to discover more lost/Lost people.  There were the interweb people, such as the folks who added to Lostopedia, an incredibly helpful guide to understanding everything Lost (such as the possible reasons the statue only had four toes to all the literary references).  It became my reference guide.  I started reading the Lost blogs, and trying to hide from the spoilers.  Then I started finding people in the “flesh world”.  We started having early morning Thursday meetings to discuss what we saw last night.  People would attend with notepads full of ideas, predictions, and easter eggs.  Even when I switched companies between seasons 5 and 6, my new company had a Lost community.  We shared a common interest and purpose.  While I am not sure we actually ever added any value to the world, it was must “be” TV.  During the last season, I discovered Twitter, and the world of the second screen.  I instantly increased my Lost community by thousands.  I could watch the show unfold, and listen or add commentary in real time.  I either stretched the capacity of my brain or did some serious damage, either way, I would do it again.  Oh, how I yearn for just 1 show to make me feel that way again.

The Grateful Dead

Possibly the greatest community of all time, and some amazing marketers too (just ask David Meerman Scott and Brian Halligan authors of Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead).  It is amazing looking back how far ahead of their time The Dead were in terms of community management maturity.  Before the consideration of the idea of community management, they built, grew, maintained, added advocates for decades.  Even with their most iconic lead gone, the community thrives on.  If we use the Community Roundtable’s Community Maturity Model as a guide, The Dead (even today) would be one of a very short few who have reached Stage 4 (Network) competency in multiple areas.

community roundtable maturity model

Leadership: Distributed leadership has enabled The Dead community to thrive well beyond the Grateful Dead themselves.  Dead Heads (or their super-users) took up the reins decades ago.  They built the tailgate experience, made the music viral, and were the governors of the culture.
Culture: The Dead’s culture quickly moved from Reactive, to Contributive, to Emergent, and finally to Activist.  Much of their Culture progression was based on the activist and giving values of the band, and those values quickly spread through their fans.  Today we see the same type of culture and activism with a company such as Life is Good.
Content: Whether you are a fan of the music or not, The Dead’s content (like many communities) is the live blood.  Their music was the foundation for all the media they and their community members created and spread.  They allowed their fans to create bootlegs, which were copied and dubbed on tape players hundreds of times.  These bootlegs spread the music much further than the officially released albums ever could.

Movember

During the month of November, hundreds of thousands of men around the world grow mustaches in support of raising awareness and funding for men’s health issues, such as prostate and testicular cancer.  Movember manages the community of hairy lips, and does two things especially well; they create edu-taining content and reward their super-users.  Edu-taining content, or content that educates while you are entertained, is a sure fire methodology to keep your members engaged.  Whether your company sells incredibly popular widgets or boring data management systems, your members and potential customers are still humans, and we like to be entertained.  Find ways to make your content interesting.

Movember also does a wonderful job of recognizing and rewarding their best community members.  Members receive awards and prizes for different levels of donation participation.  Movember provides members with easy to use sites [my site], which show donations, reward updates, and badges for years participated. They also host fantastic Gala parties at the end of the month to thank everyone for their hard and hairy work.

Do you have a favorite community or communities?

What about those communities keep you engaged?

What’s missing from your community to make it memorable?

The Power of the Social Business – presentation

By michaelpace on September 5, 2012

Next Wednesday, October 10th, I will be in Miami, FL presenting The Power of the Social Business at the Contact Center Conference – Fall 2012 (Hashtag: #CCCon12).

If you are attending as well, here is a sneak peek.  If you are not attending, you should, but if it is too late to slide into your schedule, you can view my presentation below.  Obviously, you are not going to get the awesome performance that accompanies the presentation.  Hopefully you learn something new, and enjoy!

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me anytime.

 

I discovered my Social Media ROI? Or How much is your personal development worth?

By michaelpace on March 30, 2012

Einstein quote

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am not that big of a fan of the term “Social Business”. I love the broader concept of using social tools and networks to more effectively and efficiently achieve business goals. For a more complete understanding of social business, I recommend two sources: SideraWorks from Amber Naslund and Matt Ridings and The Community Roundtable’s State of Community Management Report from Rachel Happe and Jim Storer. However, I worry that the term “Social Business” leaves the act of working this way to the current few in a company “who do Social Media”. I prefer the term “Social Organization”, as I wrote about a couple months back. The “Social Organization” implies that is more about the people in the organization, all the people, using relationships, process and tools to accomplish broad business goals.

If your company’s broad business goals include the personal development of your associates, becoming a social organization should be one of your key strategic imperatives. One of my favorite quotes is from the book The Power of Pull by John Hagel, he said, “There are a lot more smarter people outside of your company, than in it”. This quote has nothing to do with the intelligence of the people in your company; it’s just that there are so many subject matter experts, students, and geniuses in any field you can imagine. Social networks are fantastic way to listen, connect and build relationships with the smartest people in the world. Encouraging your associates to seek knowledge about their passions (both professional and non) and use social tools to aide in their personal development can be a powerful way for them to improve. If you don’t mind, I will use myself as a case study in this matter.

When I started becoming interested in social media in 2009, I had a Facebook account to keep track of folks from high school (mostly who I didn’t like back then either) and a LinkedIn account (mostly to help in a job search I had just completed). My professional development, at that time, centered around three areas: Understanding Social Media for Customer Service, Community Management, and public speaking. Historically, I read a lot of books to gain access to information of bright minds. I still do, but as a compliment to other forms of media. I quickly began to understand the power of an RSS feeder. Twitter was next. I fell in love with Twitter, and still love it today as a professional development tool. Twitter, if used for no other purpose, is an amazing way to pull the world’s smartest people content into a simple and digestible form. Over time, I began to build amazing relationships, some digital and some in person, and conversations from these relationships have added incredibly towards my personal development along all three areas. Today, I speak regularly at Customer Service, Social Media and Community Management conferences about how to build scalable social media customer service teams, revitalizing fading communities, inspiring cultural evolutions in your organization, new ways to measure customer retention, and how to leverage the power of the social organization. You can see some of the presentations here.

So what is the ROI of social media to me or what is the value of my personal development?

The answer is simple, priceless.

The Best Twitter Advice I Ever Received

By michaelpace on September 12, 2011

Twitter profile

For the past couple years, much of the chatter and content on/in social networks has been about authenticity, trust, and not being “all about you”.  I am a big promoter of this philosophy, and truly believe this type of open content is the cream that will rise to the top.  But how do you know you are creating authentic sounding and trustworthy content? Or doing it well?

In the Twittersphere, each tweet is often just a moment of thought, sharing, promotion, or piece of silliness.   The roots of context, reliability and sincerity are difficult to ascertain.  Whether you tweet 1-2 times a day or 20-30, people on the other end of your feed build an impression of you.  It might be fair. It might not be.  You may have a different impact than your intent.  You may not realize how often you tweet about your job, promote your workplace, complain, distribute cat videos, or share other’s content.  Or the worst, you could be boring. So how can you tell or at least get an idea of how others see you?

The best twitter advice I ever received: 

Periodically, read through your sent messages and perform a self quality assurance check; a minimum of twenty tweets or a few weeks worth depending on your frequency.

(Paraphrased advice from Jim Storer of the Community Roundtable)

 If you have never done it, open up another browser tab and do it now! (But come back)

  • Be objective about yourself
  • Would you want to read You?
  • Is this the persona you want to portray?
  • What do you really tweet about?
  • Are you boring? Or untrustworthy?

I review my prior month’s worth of tweets usually at the beginning of the following month, religiously.  I block out the time on my calendar (and I am not an organization freak at all – come see my desk at work).  I block it out, because it is important.  If your personal or corporate brand is not important, please skip the rest of this post, I hear there is a new talking fruit video online now.

So what did my twitter feed look like last month (August):

Twitter topics

My thoughts on my own “performance” last month:                                                                 n=518

  • Happy to see General Friend Conversations and Relationship Building as my largest category – these are @ responses or starting conversations with friends or new people
  • Slightly surprised by amount of Twitterchat/Conference tweets from last month, but much of the total came from hosting #CCDemo11 (Prep for call center conference in Oct.)
  • 27% of tweets I consider professional (my blog or event promotion, Constant Contact promotion, retweeting educational material, and Job postings/referrals/retweets)
  • Could promote Constant Contact a bit more
  • I tell people where I am, what I am listening to, and what I am watching a bit too much
  • Qualitatively, I could tweet a bit less from bars after 3 or 4 beers

You need to decide and determine your own balance for yourself and your brand (personal or corporate).  My general theme is to provide edu-taining content while providing a small glimpse into who I am as a person.  The specific goals of my tweets are to;

  1. Establish myself as a Customer Service leader
  2. Become known as a leader in social business
  3. Meet/form relationships with interesting people

While this post has been predominately about me, it’s intention to push you to get introspective about yourself or your brand.  A tweet has a relatively short shelf life on the web, but it only takes a few seconds to create an impression.  That impression can be the difference between people believing you to be authentic/trustworthy and being seen as a corporate shill, fake or boring.

Does anyone know of an easy service to collect information on yourself?  I do a lot this manually.

Let me know if you learn anything about yourselves that you didn’t realize before you reviewed your tweets.

Random helpful twitter resources similar to this topic:

Power 50 Twitter Tips by Chris Brogan

ProBloggers 35 Twitter Tips from 35 Twitter Users

Social Media Quickstarter for Twitter

Liar, Liar, Liar!!! … Get Back Witch! I’m Not a Witch, I’m Your Audience

By michaelpace on August 8, 2011

Princess Bride - LiarAttend a social media or call/contact center conference lately?  Have you attended a session or class on social media?  Did the distinguished speaker tell you the first step to get into social media was to LISTEN?  Guess what? That person was lying to you.

Oh no, they were not intentionally lying to you.  You see they have gone too deep inside the social media bubble; surrounded themselves with like thinking/doing individuals, read tons of articles on social media, attended conferences with other Marketing and Social Business brethren.  They have heard countless statistics about how many people use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and write blogs.  And all of this makes sense to them.  They use these tools.  Their smartphone has 97 applications on it.  They are early adopters, and everyone is a luddite still using a television to watch Game of Thrones instead of watching on their iPads with HBO GO.  However, they have forgotten that when they speak or write to Customer Service audiences, they are usually not talking to early adopters any more, they are talking to the heart of mainstream.  (Yes, I live in a glass house, and am not afraid to throw rocks)

Mainstream still doesn’t use Twitter.  They may have an account, because it was easy and “everyone else was doing it”.  Most mainstream people do not have a blog, many do not have any idea what a blog is or does.  More than half of mainstream does not own a smartphone.  (If you don’t have a smartphone at a social media conference, you might as well start breaking out papyrus and quill to take your notes.)  Mainstream still uses Internet Explorer, and it works fine for them.  My family and 90% of people I went to high school and college are mainstream.  Customer Service is by and large made up of people from mainstream.

I have the amazing opportunity to attend and speak at Customer Service and Contact Center conferences all over the country.  These conferences are attended by hundreds, but you MAY find only about a half dozen on Twitter.  Paper and pen far outnumber iPhones and iPads for taking notes and sharing.  If the speaker or conference leader is telling these people that the first step in working with social media tools is to LISTEN, they do not fully understand the audience.  Telling this audience to listen is like telling me to watch Japanese television to learn how to speak the language.  I will not know what I am watching or listening for.  Yeah sure, after a while, I’ll pick up a few things, but you have probably lost my interest by then.  I think this may be one a few reasons why Customer Service is generally a periphery user of social media tools and less involved in social business.

So if LISTENING is not the first step into social media or social media customer service, what is?

Step 1: Get yourself involved

You can listen and read the greatest minds of social business and social media tools, but until you get yourself involved you will never fully get it.  The best analogy I can use here is riding a bike.  You can read books, watch videos, listen to your dad, have Lance Armstrong as your best friend, but until you get on the bike and learn how to balance, pedal and turn, you cannot fully understand how to ride a bike.  My social business mentor, Rachel Happe of The Community Roundtable, calls it your “Aha Moment”.  When you have the “Aha Moment”, it may hit you like a ton of bricks, and the clarity is amazing.  Here is my recommendation of steps to get involved:

  1. LinkedIn – Unless you plan on staying with your current employer the rest of your life, LinkedIn is the most important social network for any professional.  It is the new Rolodex and resume in one.  LinkedIn is also an incredibly powerful tool to understand the vastness of your connections and their connections.  LinkedIn can also put you in touch with like minded individuals through their Groups functionality.
  2. Facebook – 800 Million users should be reason enough.  But if you plan on understanding social business, understanding how Facebook works with businesses is an important learning.  LIKE a few businesses you believe may provide good social support or you have general interest in.
  3. Twitter – Twitter is not just for telling people what you ate for lunch.  I like to think of Twitter as my digestible funnel of the world’s smartest/best people and content.   Yes, it can be overwhelming initially, but once you find a Twitter client you are comfortable with (Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Seesmic), you can filter out the noise and build relationships with some amazing people.   The highest majority of Customer Service transactions and interactions occur on Twitter with our customers.
  4. Blogs – I recommend reading/skimming blogs to anyone getting into social business.  I use Google Reader to collect and push to me content about topics that most interest me.  Use the RSS (Real Simple Syndication) button on blogs you are interested in, and connect them to your aggregator (like Google Reader).  To find great blogs that may interest you, try www.technorati.com or www.google.com/blogsearch .

Step 2: Know your Business Strategy

Social media and social business are tools and disciplines that are means to the end, not the end.  Your company’s or department’s goal is not to be great at how to use Twitter or YouTube successfully.  You’ve never heard someone say we are going win in a market, and proclaim its measurement was Microsoft Project and Project Management methodologies used in successful manner.  Social media and social business is no different.  Start with your department’s objectives, determine your strategies, identify tactics (here is where social business and tools fit), and finally create execution and control plans.  Once you understand how you plan on leveraging social, you can begin to understand where it will fit in your business.  This step should be followed up with step 2B. – involving the appropriate individuals or departments in your organization.  You should “socialize” your plans with Human Resources, Legal/Compliance, Marketing, Public Relations and Technology Security.

Step 3: LISTEN – Now you may heed all of the advice you have heard for the past 2 years.

Maybe I was a bit harsh on the social media conference speaker or writer earlier, they were not exactly lying to you, but just left out or assumed you understood steps 1 and 2 which are critical pieces of information.  I have not historically been an early adopter.  I had a LinkedIn account because my line of business was closing at Capital One, and had a Facebook account to keep track of people in high school I couldn’t stand in the first place.  I feel that I was extremely lucky to have found my passion in Customer Service has been equaled by social business.  I hope my experience in both worlds is helpful to even just one person starting out or a presenter or writer addressing the Customer Service audience.

I love to hear from Contact Center leaders, when speakers and writers tell you that listening is the first step, does that resonate?

Do you actively participate in social business and leverage social media tools daily for personal, professional and work use?

Miracle Max video

Image & video: Courtesy of The Princess Bride (love that movie)