Blog Post 7 – Chapter 8

Chapter 8 – Helping the Groundswell Support Itself

Data-Analysis-new

As we start Chapter 8 off, we read about how companies view supporting their customers as a burden.  Not only does it cost money to be on the phone dealing with issues and questions, its taking time away from something else that could be getting done.  I can relate to this because in my job, I usually know that when someone’s calling its because something hasn’t been done right, or something needs to be done differently.  It also takes me away from my tasks that I need to get done, resulting in lots of overtime to makeup for work that should’ve been done in the day.  Companies in 1990 recognized they could take some of this off their plate by directing customers to their websites, which soon became known as “the self service revolution“. It also discusses how people are actually inclined to help out total strangers because people are far more willing to trust other people than a company.  Dell is mentioned as a prime example of a company who uses online forums and support groups to create “a community” amongst their customers who can rely on one another for information in regards to their products or services.  The reason they are interacting in this way isn’t for fun, but rather answers.

This makes me think….how many less calls a day would I have, and how much MORE work could I get done if there was simply a place customers could go to communicate these questions and get answers back without even talking to a company representative?

I think its important for companies to understand that creating wiki’s, blogs or forums as a resource for customers can not only help their business financially, but it can help them create a tight knit community together.  It provides a place where they can problem solve together and adds value all around and can create leads and produce new clients.

The chapter discusses the importance of creating a community of experts in order for it to be successful.  Its important to get support from your customers, ask them for help, and involve them in the process.  Its also important to remember about patience and policies.  What rules will you make to ensure the integrity of the information?

Next, chapter 8 discusses the importance of three questions that will need to examine what the groundswell means for your company.

  • What problem will you solve?
  • How will you participate?
  • Whether you should create a support community or join an existing on

I like how they mention to ask yourself the question WHY? Why will your customers find these forums or wikis helpful? I think its so important as a business owner to always put yourself in the customers shoes.  If you were them, would you use it? How can you make it the best experience possible and ensure people will continue using it? All these questions that business owners & managers must think about when implementing and working with the groundswell.

Here is some great advice for starting a community for support:

  • Start small, but plan for a larger presence
  • reach out to your most active customers
  • Plan to drive traffic to your community
  • Build a reputation system
  • Let your customers lead you

After doing some additional research on other great support forums out there, companies such as Cisco have built support communities for their members to collaborate and communicate about anything they wish.  Companies such as Apple have also done the same.  In conclusion of chapter 8, its important that companies look at these support communities as a huge opportunity.  There are going to be times where customers use these resources to put negative feedback about price and certain experiences they’ve had, but look at like “you have a front row seat”.  You can ask people to clarify their comments, add additional information to better a situation, and collaborate with these people to gather as much information as possible.  In the end, the more information you have, the better off you and the success of your company will be.

Sources: 

Charlene Li, Josh Bernoff,. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies. (expanded and revised edition.). Harvard Business School Press.

 

 

Blog Post 6 – Chapter 6

Television-Advertising

Talking With the Groundswell – Chapter 6

“Once people are aware of your product, a new dynamic kicks in, people learning from each other”.

To start off with this blog, I chose to include this quote because it struck my attention in the first couple pages.  I think this quote is totally applicable to life & business today because its true, people are shifting away from marketing and advertising and capturing information and opinions from their personal interactions.  Thinking about my personal life….I completely reside with reviews, what people say about products, and most importantly, feedback I get from friends or acquaintances about their experience with something.  I rarely go purchase something because I see an add that strikes me or a video clip that I find intriguing.  “This generation puts a lot of stock in the opinion and advice and direction of their peers” which was said by Ernst & Young’s director of campus recruiting.

Here are four ways that can help companies or people talk with the groundswell:

  • Post a viral video
  • engage in social networks and user generated content sites
  • Join the blogosphere
  • Create a community

(Bernoff, 2011)

These are all great points that my company in the construction industry could follow to make a difference when deciding how to further connect with customers.  As mentioned in my previous blog posts, I always said that people who are older and have conducted business WITHOUT technology for all these years would react to an online groundswell proposal.  Here are some points stating whether or not companies should consider using social networking to talk with perspective customers.

  • Use the social technographics profile to verify that your customers are in social networks (are majority involved?..if so..this makes sense for you)
  • Move forward if people love your brand (can you attract followers?)
  • See whats out there already
  • Create a presence that encourages interaction

(Bernoff, 2011)

We now move onto blogging and how to talk to customers through this groundswell approach.  Before we get into this, here is a video I found that talks about the benefits of blogging.  Take a look! Pros of Blogs.

Chapter 6 discusses HP success in blogging.  They had a wide and complex product lines and were able to discuss product details and communicate with their customers in an efficient and informative way as well as generate traffic & buzz about their business.  They now have over 80 blogs that customers can access if they need to know about storage, mobility or business concepts.  The most important part – TRUST.  Personal statements from management and CEO’s directly to the customer creates a partnership and establishes trust within the relationship.  In turn, customers will most likely stay loyal to your brand and continue to recommend it to others.

As mentioned before, my company who specializes in underground trenching does not do ANY of this, whats so ever.  I work with people from different generations, who are labour-working construction people, and they have never even thought that perhaps blogging could create a world of opportunity for the company.  Even if its just blogging between clients/potential clients/stakeholders and having that additional means of communication….it definitely couldn’t hurt if done properly. Here are ten suggestions that the groundswell suggests when considering blogging:

  • Start by listening
  • determine a goal for the blog
  • estimate the ROI
  • develop a plan
  • rehearse
  • develop an editorial process
  • design the blog and its connection to your site
  • develop a marketing plan so people can find the blog
  • remember, blogging is more than writing
  • most importantly…be honest

(Bernoff, 2011)

I think its important for every company to truly asks themselves how videos, blogs, communities and social networks would help their business prosper.  I really believe that theres nothing to lose by expanding your communication lines and establishing closer relationships with the people you work with.  In my industry, I think the most beneficial one would be creating more social networking.  This could help us answer questions, post information, insert links to our website or job posting, and give us a way to “be more out there”.  Its important to create awareness, and who knows the business opportunities that will come out of this. If people see something online, it might create word of mouth buzz, and hopefully evolve into something more.

Remember….not every part of “talking” and advertising is right for everyone, it takes knowing your customers & industry, being educated about your company, and being able to create something that your customers will want to be involved in.  If done the right way, it could have a tremendous impact on your company long-term.

Sources: 

Charlene Li, Josh Bernoff,. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies. (expanded and revised edition.). Harvard Business School Press.

 

 

 

Blog Post 5- Chapter 4

strategic-success

In Chapter 4 we take a look at strategies for tapping the groundswell. This a particularly interesting chapter because it is a fundamental topic that helps us understand how to make sure we take the right steps when planning how we will use a social network strategy in our organization.  I particularly like how the chapter starts out with a narrative. I relate to this because I was raised in the technology era where everyone has social media and is accessible online, but I am working in an industry where the people who are in charge of making decisions are mere opposite.  They know that times are changing and business is evolving and becoming more dependent on on-line relationships, but something holds them back from taking the plunge and adopting the groundswell.  Why is this? After reading and learning about chapter 4, hopefully we gain more insight to how we can make the appropriate moves in our industry to get people onboard to become more involved in the online-business community.

We learn about POST – which is the foundation of groundswell thinking.  It is a systematic framework for assembling your plan – which is so far the most important subject in this textbook that will help me to get the baby boomer generation in my construction company onboard with the changes that need to occur.  Before I breakdown the POST method, see this attached article for an awesome insight on how to help your members embrace technology.  There is awesome information and insight in this article!

How to get your members onboard

Some interesting points I took from this article are:

  • Simplify everything
  • Tailor new technologies for users
  • Don’t be intrusive
  • Understand why people are reluctant and focus on changing their views

Now we discuss the POST method and how this helps us think in a way that can help implement the groundswell.

People – This diseases what the customers are ready for. This part touches on how customers will engage, or will they at all? What do they want to see more of and what will the groundswell do to encourage more customer/employee interaction? It is important to do research in this stage to ensure you have the proper facts & research of what it is your customers really want.  Do they simply want 24 hour customer service, or do they want a place they can see updates, photos, and news? This will require communication between the organization & the people they deal with on a regular basis.

Objectives – This section helps the organization list out their goals.  What is it we want to accomplish? Do we want to use the groundswell to help internal relationships or external? Some of the objectives listed later in the text include listening, talking, energizing, supporting and embracing. If we take these factors and link them directly to your company (construction), we can see how it will help us pursue our objectives.

Strategy – This is a very important part of the POST process because it helps us think about where we want to go with all of this.  How do we want things to change? How will we deal with issues that arise? What is it we are really trying to do? This section allows us to think about short term & long term goals and where we want to be after adopting the groundswell.  How are we going to measure productivity and success? How will we know if this is helping our company prosper? All of these questions will come into affect when dealing with the strategy section.

Technology – Lastly, what technologies will we need to make our strategy and objectives successful? Will we need to purchase new softwares or applications? Will we just use the internet to connect? Will we use blogs, apps, social media or wikis? Technology continues to evolve and innovate and its important to consider the companies financial situation as well.  Communicating with stakeholders to find out what they think should happen will provide a better understanding of what technical resources will be needed to carry out the appropriate strategy.

An important question comes up on page 71, “company strategists knew they had to connect with their customers in the groundswell, they just didn’t know how”

This is the most difficult aspect in my construction industry and in particular my company because I work with several individuals who are much older.  It seems as though baby boomers are not as comfortable switching out of their old ways and taking big risks – especially with technology.  I think the biggest thing is just educating and informing them on how to monitor and prepare for the risks involve, but most importantly showing them HOW the groundswell can put your company in a position that sets it up for success.  “Things are going great now, why change anything” is something us younger people get frequently when proposing more technical interaction with customers.  Its almost as though we have to wipe out a persons mentality and replace it with a completely new one.  This can be hard…

I think inviting guest speakers in is a GREAT way to kick start the brains of these individuals and shift them into believing that technology can truly make a difference (and even take a huge amount of stress off them).  Giving the people who “don’t believe” an opportunity to get comfortable with the groundswell will provide them with the tools and knowledge to act accordingly.  I feel like simply expanding their minds and showing them how successful companies can be after starting blogs/social media and interacting online with their customers, they will be that much more likely to hop on board and believe in the  process.  Here are some ways to help:

  • Create a plan that starts small but has room to grow
  • Think through the consequences of your strategy
  • Put someone important in charge of it
  • Use great care in selecting your technology and agency partners

With all of this being said, its also important to understand what potential things could go wrong and how to prepare for this.  Strategies are not easy to implement, and getting your entire organization believing in the process is also difficult.  If people don’t believe, will it work? My answer is no.  Management must be prepared to deal with negative feedback and comments, and perhaps not aligning their strategies and objectives with the right target group.  We must remember ITS OKAY TO FAIL! Most success stories do not happen over night, they take time, handwork, dedication, and most of the time – it doesn’t work out the first few times.  Its all about maintaining the belief, working hard, and adjusting the strategy accordingly.  Things WILL go wrong. (I love this!). But its those companies who push through, make changes, and find ways to make it work that succeed.

We also must remember….adopting the groundswell will fundamentally change how your company relates to its customers & this can be scary.  It will require fortitude & negotiations, mistakes will happen, but we must remember to NOT ignore the trend.  It will payoff if you take the right steps and believe in yourself.  A huge lesson I get from this chapter is NEVER QUIT.  No matter what, it will all pay off some way or another if you follow the protocol and ensure you are devoted to making the change.  “There is no right way to engage with the groundswell”, but with the effective strategies each company can adopt tactics that are right for its customers.  Don’t copy, don’t fool people, don’t be afraid to listen to others, and you will never turn back.

Sources:

Charlene Li, Josh Bernoff,. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies. (expanded and revised edition.). Harvard Business School Press.