Tag Archives: UserVoice

Success with Social in Business: Review of Socialized! by Mark Fidelman

Happy New Year! Thought we’d start out the New Year with a power hitter on demystifying the wild world of social media – that is, for business.

What’s the tricks,  the secrets, the behind the scene aspects, and a whole slew of other obvious and not so obvious nuances that we think are good and godly advice in this  social marketing entrenched world that we all live in. Whether you like it, agree with it, do it, or not – one thing is sure: it’s here to stay, so we’d suggest, get on the train, or the train will leave the depot (or has already) without you!

To do this, AppFusions (and in particular me – Bill) was fortunateto receive a review copy of Mark Fidelman’s new book Socialized!  How the World’s Most Successful Businesses Are Harnessing the Power of Social. Mark is a a Forbes blogger and seasoned executive with many years and experience in the industry of social business. (More information on the book is also here.)

Mark Fidelman

In this very useful book, Mark presents the strategies and tactics of the world’s best social business organizations, including IBM, Microsoft, Salesforce.com, Google, JetBlue, and several small businesses.

Mark also offers a playbook that businesses can use today to make effective use of social business practices. In fact, McKinsey has predicted that there is over a trillion dollars in benefits waiting for those organizations who properly use social business practices so this is a worthwhile goal to pursue.

The book includes how to create and nurture a high performing “digital village” or internal social network. It also offers ways to connect with your “digital network” and build a community of brand advocates. It then includes how to manage a sales and marketing funnel with a social wrapper.

I asked Mark what motivated Mark to write the book?  He replied:

The majority of senior executives I meet are feeling a stinging sense of urgency that their businesses must adopt a true social business model if they are to remain relevant, sustainable and profitable.  However, most simply don’t know how to go about it.

I wrote Socialized! to give businesses a roadmap for capturing the power of social inside the organization and out.

Mark makes the very important point that successful social business starts inside your organization.

With the initial emphasis on social media marketing, this has often been overlooked as a crucial step toward social business success.

  • First, there are many internal efficiencies that can be realized by socializing business processes and these are part of the trillion that McKinsey counts.  Putting social media to work inside the organization is a topic I have often discussed (see, for example, Giving Social Media a Good Job).
  • Second, a focus on external social business alone, without an internal social business component, will not make the necessary transformation of the business culture to realize both the external and internal benefits. This crucial link is often coined/termed: “social business”.

There’s much debate out there on what’s the difference between ‘social business’ and ‘enterprise 2.0’, in terms of terms (for example, here on Quora) – and we won’t go into that debate here, but in short, both are about collaboration, bringing it together: people, systems, and processes, whether internal  external, or both.

Mark provides ten rules that are essential to build a culture achieve a closely connected business culture, or, as he refers to it, a “digital village.”  Developing this digital village mentality allows for the creation and sharing of critical content across the enterprise. Aspects include: employees, management, operations, processes, workflow, technology, strategy, standards, and governance. It requires the updating of structures, processes, and workflow and making the investments to ensure these efforts succeed.

I am glad that Mark includes technology. Too often, people say, “well, it is not about the technology, but the people.”

Actually it is about both. For the connected enterprise or digital village to work, you certainly have to have the right culture in place. AND you also have to have the applications integrated so there are actually connections within the digital workflow. This second fact is often overlooked and then you end up with a bunch of frustrating silos.

Mark offers eight requirements for the digital village. These include developing a code of conduct and realigning the village to make it a social environment. Then you need to deploy social platforms to support the infrastructure of the digital village.

This is where application integration comes into play. Now you can leverage the collective intelligence of the village. To make it real you also need training and a more human focus to HR.

Finally, analytics need to be put into place to gauge the health of the digital village and make adjustments. Benefits need to be spread across the organization.

Once the internal digital village is in place you can turn toward to market with a unified force. The term “markets as conversations” introduced ten years ago though the Cluetrain Maninfesto remains highly relevant. Communities become one of the main platforms for these conversations. Mark contrasts old model behavior that was centered around onward communication and the new model of actual exchanges.

I asked Mark, “What are the most critical things for organizations do to become socialized in an effective way?”

He replied with the following three points.

  • Connect and empower thought leaders.  ” I can’t emphasize enough that traditional marketing is dead.  Your customers don’t trust your advertising as much as they do the individuals they have been following for years, so make it a priority to build reciprocal relationships with influencers.   Once you’ve connected with them, you can work together to talk about the pains your customer community is experiencing, which your product can solve.”
  • Build or join an external community.  “Building an external community around your brand is one of the most powerful things you can do to positively impact sales, create goodwill, and generate ideas. It’s also an effective feedback vehicle. Imagine thousands of people discussing topics related (and sometime unrelated) to your products every day.Your community is answering support questions, helping other members with career aspirations, or just networking.  If your brand or product does not yet have enough authority to build a community around it, and if there is already a robust and thriving community where your customers are hanging out, then by all means join it. If your competitor is running it, you’ll need to create a community around another subject related to your product.”
  • Build internal online communities. “To support an adaptive organization, employees need to connect, share, and expand on ideas. This is a critical part of becoming a more social, adaptive organization. Employees must have the ability to share insight with each other easily and visibly. Imagine a professional sports team that doesn’t practice or share information about the opposing team. Indeed, imagine a sports team that doesn’t review its game tape. How effective would they be long term?”

There is much more including the rise of the social employee and a playbook to support and engage this employee.

The book is rich in practical examples and guidelines. I certainly recommend it to anyone embarking on a social business program.

Check it out for yourself on Amazon here!

 

UserVoice Enables Customer Engagement through Online Support and Feedback

UserVoice provides software to support help desks and engage customers in providing useful feedback. I recently spoke with CEO, Richard White, who said that their goal is to help Web-based companies better understand their online customers in the context of providing them with help.

They do not want to simply provide help desk support but also increase customer engagement. This is a wise move as it can only also increase customer loyalty and revenue.

Richard White, CEO, UserVoice

In the past few years there has been a significant increase in the number of companies that operate exclusively online. The relative low cost of doing virtual business is enabling smaller companies to get into the market.

The issues facing this new breed of companies are very different than traditional brick and mortar firms that set up a Web presence. UserVoice is designed to address the needs of this new breed of companies.

Richard made the very important point that companies that are exclusively online have few ways to interact directly with their customers except in help situations. Without a feedback system such as UserVoice, the only remaining form of feedback is revenue swings and companies need to stay ahead of this curve if the potential direction is downward.

These companies also face the need to support large numbers of customers with small staffs. UserVoice allows them to operate at scale with small support staffs. It offers two interrelated solutions: UserVoice Helpdesk™ and UserVoice Feedback™ .

UserVoice Helpdesk™ provides a simple, easy to use platform for customer support. Their target population for this offering is support teams ranging from 3 to 15 members so it is not overburdened with unnecessary features for this population. It is actually available for free for only one agent seat. Here is a sample support queue screen.

UserVoice Sample Support Queue Screen
UserVoice Sample Support Queue Screen

Some companies operate with one person or a rotating team of people and make full use of this free version. Others use the single seat to test it out before obtaining licenses for additional seats.

The HelpDesk is for support tickets to track customer requests. Instant Answers™ (see below) reduces the need to answer the same question over and over as it provides customers with relevant answers while they’re submitting a support request. Customers can give support staff kudos at any point in the support process which further encourages proactive customer service.

UserVoice Instant Answers
UserVoice Instant Answers

Here is a kudos screen.

UserVoice Leaderboard Screen
UserVoice Leaderboard Screen

UserVoice’s other offering, UserVoice Feedback™ makes it easy to collect feedback from customers — prioritized by votes — via a simple feedback forum. It is their more unique offering.

UserrVoice Partial Sample Voting Screen
UserVoice Partial Sample Voting Screen

Many large companies that already have entrenched and complex help desk systems still make use of UserVoice Feedback to collect customer input and increase engagement – both inside their organization’s firewall, as well as from external customers. Customers can easily submit and discuss ideas without having to sign up for a new account. Their voting system also prevents fraud and vocal minorities from distorting the true voice of the customer. Here is a partial sample voting screen.

Richard described how the Feedback management system interacts with other tools.  For example, AppFusions has built a connector with Atlassian JIRA, the widely adopted issue tracking tool (i.e., UserVoice to JIRA integration).

This allows companies to act on the feedback. Once the proper actions have occurred inside product management or engineering, then the results are passed back from JIRA to UserVoice Feedback to alert the customers of the result of their input. Here is an email notification of an update.

UserVoice Status Update
UserVoice Status Update

Richard said that this integration is key, as UserVoice does not want to be a point solution but part of an integrated customer response system. He mentioned that while most applications have APIs for connecting, it is not always easy. Having a ready-made integration tool through AppFusions makes this essential connection easy.

Putting customer input into JIRA also has the added benefit of letting engineers and product development people see what customers really want. Those responsible for product upgrades can see the actual numbers connected with requests to help guide their decisions.

Many studies have shown that customer involvement in product development increases the possibility of product success. This has also always been my personal experience too.

Understanding the voice of the customer has become an increased market need in the past few years. UserVoice addresses this need for online companies, providing a means for ongoing customer engagement at both the daily service level and for product improvement.

If you have additional questions on UserVoice or the JIRA integration, please do not hesitate to contact AppFusions at info@appfusions.com and we’ll help you – or get you going on a trial asap!

Interview by Bill Ives of the Merced Group, and who also blogs at Portals and KM.