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February 22, 2017

Boba Fett and the Value of Community Hurdles

By michaelpace on September 9, 2013 Boba Fett Alarm clock

As a little man, Boba Fett was by far the coolest Star Wars character ever.  He had a jet pack, wrist rockets, and an outfit designed with attitude.  I never thought about it back then, but his outfit and weaponry was not all that made him cool.  And it definitely wasn’t his appearance in Return of the Jedi (worst Star Wars movie and scene ever).  Part of Boba’s fandom comes from how you needed to acquire his action figure.  And for a nine year old it was quite a hurdle. 

Prior to Empire Strikes Back, Kenner (the toy company) created a hurdle for their Star Wars action figure community by offering a mail-in promotion, in which five proof of purchases would be the only way to acquire the action figure Boba Fett.  For the first time, everyone couldn’t just go to the toy store and pick up possibly the coolest figure ever.  Kenner created a barrier only their most loyal fans would cross. 

Historically, I have been a big proponent of making your communities easy to use, easy to access, and providing the least amount of hurdles.  Having multiple screens or process steps for someone to register or gain full access to your community limits volume, possible conversion, and the so sexy numbers your boss may like to see.  For the most part of the past few years, this has been the strategy for many organizations:

  • Providing a freemium product
  • “Like us on Facebook”
  • Just name and email for community platform access

If volume and impressions are your goal(s), this is a perfectly great strategy.  It brings you more possibilities to convert, win over share of wallet, and allows your marketing message to reach a higher number of people.  If your goals are about direct top and bottom line growth, you may want to rethink your strategy.  In other words, would you rather have 10,000 likes or 100 raving fans?  Yes, the answer is both, but requires two very distinct community management strategies.  If your goals are about depth of engagement versus breadth, creating barriers to inclusion may be a strong option for you.  Some barriers include:

  • Pay for app or pay trials (think WhatsApp or other pay for games/apps)
  • Develop an acceptance process to join a community
  • Detailed information on entry
  • The Mafia and other organized gangs have some very difficult hurdles (I don’t recommend)

Remember you are providing access to your community to achieve a goal or a number of goals.  Take the time to think about which strategy help you get there, free and easy access or adding in some hurdles.  Boba Fett still remains a personal favorite character, and I still remember the day my mom walked in and handed me the brown mailing box from Kenner. bobafree

Do you belong to any communities that provided hurdles? 

Does your organization make it purposely difficult for customers to get involved?

Did you get your Boba Fett in the mail too?

Putting Social Media in Context or Don’t Hate the Tool, Hate the Carpenter

By michaelpace on February 20, 2012

They say frustration is the mother of invention.  This post is rooted in frustration.  My frustration lies with smart social strategists and users consistently doing the following:

  • Making social media the objective
  • Consistently bashing one social media tool versus another, whether it’s Google +, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Path, etc…
  • Fostering conversations on “who owns social media”

Social media is a tool, plain and simple.

  • It is not the result; it’s a way to get there
  • I have lots of tools in my toolbox, including hammers, saws, screwdrivers (manual and electric) wrenches, and so on.  It doesn’t mean one tool is better than another, they just serve  different purposes.
  • Nobody should “own” the tool.  The phone system is a tool, you don’t see Marketing asking the Customer Service team for permission to use the phone.

Hopefully, my homemade “infographic” can put social media and its surrounding terms in context.
Putting Social Media in Context

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*CLTV = Customer LifeTime Value

While I consistently use the carpenter analogy (just because you swing a hammer, doesn’t make you a carpenter, it just makes you more dangerous), I thought including Lord Vader may connect with my audience a bit more.

Do you have social pet peeves or things that generate frustration?

Do you use a different analogy?

Do you do one of those things that drives me crazy?  If so, we should fight on the playground at Three o’ Clock High style.

Social Star Wars Saga Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

By michaelpace on November 10, 2011

Pre-prequel: With the recent release of the Star Wars saga on Blu-ray, I feel compelled to finally put together my official Social Star Wars Blog Saga. Enjoy all of you fantastic nerds.

Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Episode II: Attack of the Clones

I love what I do.  I [attempt to] thrill customers who choose “alternative” channels to receive their customer service or voice their opinions.  By alternative, I mean non-typical call center service; I lead Knowledge Management, Social and Community Support, and Process Management/Service Recovery teams.  I also have the good fortune to serve on the Board of Directors for the North East Contact Center Forum, and occasionally speak at conferences.   For the past 22 months, I have straddled the space between the Customer Service/Experience and the Social Business/Media worlds, and have had the opportunity to meet incredible people from both sides, but rarely do they meet in the middle.  Social “Media” is hot in the Call Center/Customer Service arena right now, but for the audience of this post (see above) I have some strong words for you:

Stop trying to operationalize Social Customer Service (for now)

Stop asking these questions:

–          What kind of SLA’s (Service Level Agreements) do we need?

–          How many people should we staff this with?

–          How can we calculate workforce management requirements?

–          How do I monitor quality?

–          How can tools (SCRM) answer the previous questions?

–          ETC…

If you are in the industry that provides these answers, stop answering the questions.

You cannot operationalize something you do not understand.  You may know how to swing a hammer, but that doesn’t make you a carpenter; it only makes you dangerous.   You need to understand the why and how of social business/media/tools before you get to the what.  Social business is very different than traditional linear business practices, there are multiple layers (called relationships).

Start asking these types of questions:

–          How can my team and I get involved in social business/media?

–          What communities or other conversation areas should we listen to and participate in?

–          Where are my customers talking now?  Where will they be?

–          What are some great resources for my team to find more information about this subject?

–          How do I conduct low-risk experiments?

–          How do I involve others departments in these initiatives?

–          ETC…

Once you understand the art of social business, you can start understanding the science (or start operationalizing your social presence).  Spend a couple months understanding the answers to the second set of questions.  You will know when you are ready, trust me, my “aha” moment hit me over the head like the hammer I was discussing earlier.  There are plenty of resources out there for help, build relationships with them, and you are always more than welcome to ping me.

So, what kind of questions do you find yourself asking (and answering) – Operational or Involvement related?

P.S. I do know operationalizing is not really a word, but you know what I mean.

P.S.S.  Great video for all leaders and readers on starting with Why from TED.

http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action.html

Revenge of the Sith - Social Star Wars

Social Star Wars Saga Episode II: Attack of the Clones

By michaelpace on November 9, 2011

Pre-prequel: With the recent release of the Star Wars saga on Blu-ray, I feel compelled to finally put together my official Social Star Wars Blog Saga. Enjoy all you fantastic nerds.

Episode I: The Phantom Menace

I was attending the social media track of conference, and went to the first social session of the day.  The session started with the Socialnomics’ Social Media Revolution Video (the first one) and continued with non-actionable generalities.  I went on pursuit of the speaker’s social network just to see how active or involved he was; no twitter handle!  Are you serious?  He then proceeded to use the word “twit” as in the action you do when you use twitter.  Thank goodness Apple was announcing the new iPhone right at that moment.  It didn’t get much better when the next session started with the United Breaks Guitars song and video. Let’s just say there are plenty of consultants or non-practitioners out there.  These clowns (clones) are one of two reasons why the social business space is moving slower than the technology.

The Clone we all know

Let’s start with the first set of clones referenced above.  Social is incredibly easy to get into, find information on and sound knowledgeable about to unfamiliar crowds.  These individuals understand the tactical use of social media tools, but rarely have an understanding how to actually integrate into business processes or moving to organizational goals.  .  Their Twitter and Facebook streams look like constant ads for some product or service. Since they are not using the tools daily, they rarely actually enter the social media bubble (people’s who lives have changed from social interactions and participate hourly/daily).  How to tell the Clone we all know:

  • Infrequent twitter use or used only to promote their organization’s “something”
  • Have less than ten social sites tied to them (beyond Twitter, Facebook & LinkedIn)
  • Talks in vague generalities about cookie cutter social steps
  • Never brings up business goals and objectives

The Clone that is US

Why do you think people talk about social media fatigue?  Or why do people chase shiny social objects (me included)?  I have a thought.  I entered in this social media bubble in November 2009, somewhat late for most in this space.  Because of my role, I drank from the firehouse of information.  I can honestly say within 4 months, if I heard one more person tell me that the first step of social media is to “Listen”, I was going to puke.  Some folks still claim that is the first step of using social media for business, but the example I am trying to show is people in the social media bubble keep talking about the same things to the same people in the same social bubble.  Another more recent example, I followed the Inbound Marketing Summit hashtag (#IMS11) as I was not able to attend.  I am glad I wasn’t able to, as all the tweets from session could have been copied from #IMS10 and probably #IMS09 and every other social media conference attended by the same social media folk.  Just to prove my point, go through your twitter stream or your Google Reader, and look at the blogs that are written.  Most are just copies and repurposing of things people in this bubble have heard a hundred times.

Shiny objects are great because it allows people to play or use something new.  The technology is moving faster than the thoughts on how to use and integrate.

It’s not social media fatigue, its social media laziness. 

I am not saying the people who work in social are lazy; they are some of the hardest working people I know.  The thought leadership is lazy.  Thought leadership in this space has been mostly relegated to marketing and technology focused individuals.  I think it just needs an infusion of diverse thinking, process managers, operations, human resources, executive leadership, etc…  I stated it before; I don’t think the next innovation of social business will come from marketing or technology, but from areas like Human Resources.  We need to expand our social bubble to include these other areas.  We need to branch out of social media conferences and attend industry specific or small business conferences.  When I attend a customer service conference, there may be ½ dozen of active socially networked individuals, but hundreds of people interested in the area.

I do have a belief that in 2012, the cream will rise to the top and more individuals will be focused on operationalizing social business.  We all have the opportunity to prepare for that time now.

May the force be with you, always.

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Star Wars Crawl Creator

Attack of the Clones - Social Star Wars

Social Star Wars Saga Episode I: The Phantom Menace

By michaelpace on November 7, 2011

Pre-prequel: With the recent release of the Star Wars saga on Blu-ray, I feel compelled to finally put together my official Social Star Wars Blog Saga. Enjoy all you fantastic nerds.

As I mentioned in my last video post, one of the most popular questions asked of me by customer service leaders and people interested in social business is “What’s the ROI (Return on Investment) you are seeing with social media for customer service?” I love that question.  Folks seem to need to know that answer to move from social paralysis to engagement.

When asked here’s my first reply, ”Have you figured out the ROI of your bathroom?” (not sure where I got that from, but would love to give credit one day).  I reply with that rhetorical response for two reasons

1.) it breaks their conditioning and makes them stop

2.) the answer to that question is the same as the previous

I will usually ask them if they know the ROI of their broader Customer Service Department; which again usually provides the same answer.  It is really no different than if your customers were calling you and you didn’t pick up the phone, except they are also telling everyone who follows their messages.  It is becoming a business necessity.  The primary goal of customer service is customer retention, avoiding their contacts will not serve your retention goals.  As for actionable advice I give to customer service leaders, I provide two thoughts.

Focus on ROO (Return on Objectives) not ROI

Social business practices are still in their infancy, focus should be balanced between broader business goals, your learning agenda and metrics.  I like the way Jason Falls explains it in his new book No Bullshit Social Media.  Look at how social media helps your broader business goals:

  • Enhance branding and awareness
  • Protect brand reputation
  • Enhance public relations
  • Build community
  • Enhance customer service (VOC and general service)
  • Facilitate research and development
  • Drive leads and sales

Your learning agenda should include:

  • How to scale this operation
  • Cross department interactions
  • What kind of people are right for this role
  • What is needed from a content management standpoint
  • What infrastructure is needed to support

If social media is about Engagement, measure Customer Lifetime Value

I am sure there are lots of ways to measure CLV, here’s how I do:

Acquisition: What was the cost of acquisition? Is this customer referring others?

Retention: You need to have them as a customer gain value (duh)

Average Spend/Time period: How much and often do they spend money with your business

Profitability: Is this customer costing you too much to keep or are they efficient for your business (uses self service and community platforms for service)

I understand many business leaders want to understand how much allocating resources to social customer service will cost them and what will they get in return.  If you need to create a business case, I would use all of the above information (both soft and hard numbers) to make your case.  But the best way you can make the case is find out what your customers are saying to and about you and tell the story of why you need to play here.

May the force be with you, always.

Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Star Wars Crawl Creator

Phantom Menace - Social Star Wars