What Does Assistly Think of Social Business?

Following the series of asking vendors with Social Business credentials their thoughts on Social Business – NetBase is next.  Want to read the previous ones? OracleAttensityFuze DigitalMoxie SoftwareSAPGetSatisfactionRightNow TechnologiesLithiumbluekiwi and NetBase are already posted.

1) Where is the Social world going to be in 12 months? 24 months?

Today, Facebook and Twitter are two of the most popular websites on the planet and yet only a tiny fraction of all customer service opportunities are delivered using social channels — but this story will change. Over the next 12 to 24 months we will see an exponential increase in the amount of support delivered via social networks, as an unprecedented number of customers look to engage with their favorite companies in more social ways – and more forward-thinking businesses respond to that growing demand by treating socially-networked customer service as an opportunity.

Delivering customer service over social channels is part of a broader shift in how businesses relate to social networks. In a very short time, we’ve seen businesses evolve from simple, passive listening on social networks to more sophisticated marketing, and more recently into service and support. In our view, social customer care will no longer be an afterthought or an adjunct to traditional service environment; it will sit squarely at the core of customer service and support along with other forms of customer interactions
We are passionate about an emerging “all-in-one” worldview of support, where the customer is more than a passive viewer on the other side of the browser, but rather a resource connected through social channels to all the meaningful aspects of your company – from sales and marketing to product development to the executive suite. Competitive companies will embrace a platform that leverages this opportunity –  not only because it will serve the best interests of their customers, but also because it will vastly improve the work experience of the employees who interact with them.

2) How can businesses not be left behind?

For businesses to compete in the new socially-networked world, they must embrace the idea that success resides in the relationships between them and their customer.  When those relationships are reciprocal, the customer will be heard and treated fairly, and your attitude and the tools you use to protect and serve the customer experience will fuel your business success.

There’s a lot written about the modern “social customer,” but customers have always been social. The difference now is that they have the ways and means to be heard, to share their expectations, and to invest themselves in businesses they love. Now, instead of just putting the check in the mail, they’re tweeting and blogging and influencing hundreds of others. It’s not human nature that is different; it’s the technology that has changed. The technology of the Internet has helped the customer realize their true power, and wield it. The genie will never go back into the bottle.

3) What is going to happen in three years and beyond in the world of social?

In three years, posting to a social network will be as natural and as common as making a phone call is today, and it will be one of the dominant ways in which customers expect to conduct business.

Companies that embrace social networks will be at a distinct advantage, of course. But social networks will also change the rules of engagement and create new ways for companies to compete. Progressive companies will see social networks as a way to incorporate true dialogue with their customers into their business model, and to allow the “voice of the customer” to foster genuine engagement with all departments in a company.  Interaction with customers will become part of how companies compete because it will be directly tied to how they collaborate internally to build better products and services. This is the future that Assistly stands ready to serve.

What Does NetBase Think of Social Business?

Following the series of asking vendors with Social Business credentials their thoughts on Social Business – NetBase is next.  Want to read the previous ones? OracleAttensityFuze DigitalMoxie SoftwareSAPGetSatisfactionRightNow Technologies, Lithium and bluekiwi are already posted.

Where is the Social world going to be in 12 months? 24 months?

As I see it, the Social Web has rapidly become the democratic voice of the consumer. As a result, the power in the consumer-to-brand, consumer-to-company relationship has shifted to consumers—even though they haven’t fully realized it yet. They’re still primarily talking to each other, but when they realize that organizations are really paying attention, many will take advantage of that power.  We already saw a glimpse of this with the recent Gap logo fiasco.

Organizations, in turn, will realize that listening isn’t enough—they need to understand what consumers are saying so they can better serve them. It won’t be optional—consumers will expect it, their competitors will be doing it, and products and services that don’t reflect consumer input, and do it quickly, will lose out to those that do.

From a technology perspective, the Social world is rapidly moving into the mobile space. The democratic voice of the consumer will be a communications channel that’s active 24×7, giving any consumer anywhere instant access to information, feedback and real-time conversation. The Millennials and the generation after them—Gen Z or the Digital Natives—who were born with smartphones in their hands will rely on their mobile devices and on Social as their primary communications channel. Organizations who want to reach them will have to be there, too.

How can businesses not be left behind?

Every business will need a two-part Social strategy integrated into their business plan: First, a strategy for participating in the conversation with consumers; second, a strategy for understanding the conversation. To participate in the conversation, businesses will need to foster an open dialog with their customers, via a company blog, Facebook page, Twitter and all innovations to come. To understand consumers, they’ll need a means to analyze and understand consumers’ opinions and emotions so they can deliver products and services that match an individual’s needs. Personalization at every touchpoint is no longer a nice-to-have—consumers now expect it, and not delivering it is a competitive disadvantage.

What is going to happen in three years and beyond in the world of Social?

For both of those overarching activities—engaging with consumers and understanding what they have to say—there needs to be a defined set of standards and best practices. The issue of privacy will become more pressing: We’ve been dancing around it since the Internet became a high-profile communications channel, but there is still no agreed-upon, consistently followed code of conduct for organizations. The average Joe Social contributor today isn’t even aware that he or she is being listened to, let alone analyzed and understood. How will they react when they do realize that? In all likelihood, some will use Social media as a bullhorn and others will stop talking. In addition, very soon, communicating via Social will be as common as communicating via the phone—especially for Millennials and Digital Natives—and that will drive the development of privacy standards and a code of conduct.

What Does blueKiwi Think of Social Business?

Following the series of asking vendors with Social Business credentials their thoughts on Social Business – bluekiwi is next.  Want to read the previous ones? OracleAttensityFuze DigitalMoxie SoftwareSAPGetSatisfaction, RightNow Technologies, and Lithium are already posted.

Where is the social world going in 12 months?

With mainstream adoption of social media in the consumer space, the use of social is naturally progressing into the enterprise.

In the last 24 months the widespread use of social media has dramatically changed purchaser behavior. Facebook has now exceeded 500 million users who share more than 45 billion pieces of content monthly. On Twitter, 150 million users publish more than 8 million brand recommendations. In addition LinkedIn has now topped 80 million users!

These statistics are evidence that it’s time for social to cross over to the enterprise space.

During the next 12 months increasingly more organizations will move from strategic thinking to operational Social Business deployments with tangible results. As an employee, partner or customer, the rise of social inside the business will deeply change the way we envision the enterprise. New and unexpected professional behaviors will emerge as they did in our private lives. Employees will connect with each other regardless of existing silos to get things done faster. Eventually businesses will recognize that social media improves the overall efficiency of the organization. This includes the role of customers in improving products and services.

How Can Businesses Not Be Left Behind?

The first challenge in social business will require the enterprise to look beyond technology and marketing concepts.

Too many organizations still believe that adopting Social Business is just about buying so-called Software. Most of time they forget it’s about changing the way they traditionally do business. Businesses need to think about organizing their resources in a different way including how they engage employees, partners and customers.

The enterprise that focuses solely on the technology and marketing aspects of Social Business exposes itself to dramatic adoption setbacks.
The focus should not be on getting “left behind” but on conducting the transformation in the right way mixing technology and services together. This will ensure the success that the enterprise deserves.

Adopting Social Business takes time and because it takes time, organizations need to get started today. The right methodology to ensure success should consist of:

1/ Establishing REAL business goals and objectives with the high-management of the enterprise

2/ Recruiting REAL business owners and preparing them for a new role

3/ Setting up a REAL Social Business plan including technology but not only

4/ Engaging REAL people, not only Twitter users and Facebook fans but employees, partners, customers, web-influencers…

5/ Measuring REAL business results

What is going to happen 3 years and beyond?

This is a $1,000,000,000 question! Social software is no longer an “emerging technology.”

The most interesting change will be sociological and cultural. A new kind of business relationship will emerge. Organizations will become increasingly more porous—that being said it will be that much more difficult to manage networks that include employees, partners and customers.

In the future businesses will have to manage their business ecosystem-including employees and customers-on an individual basis.

What Does Lithium Think of Social Business?

Following the series of asking vendors with Social Business credentials their thoughts on Social Business – Lithium is next.  Want to read the previous ones? OracleAttensityFuze DigitalMoxie SoftwareSAP, GetSatisfaction, and RightNow Technologies are already posted.

Question 1 Where is the Social world going to be in 12 months? 24 months?

Consumers will suffer from Social Fatigue Syndrome. We will see signs that consumers are tired of marketers trying to reach them through social channels without providing anything in return. The core issue is that most companies don’t know what to do once they’ve got a fan or a follower. “Special offers” don’t feel so special when you’ve gotten a hundred of them. Customer service through Twitter is more PR than service most of the time. Having the same e-commerce functionality inside Facebook doesn’t give the consumer a shopping experience that’s any more social. We’ll start to see this backlash over the next 12-24 months.

On the positive side, we’ll start to see some practitioners and agencies that “get it.” These will be companies that are in it for the long term, not just for campaign wins. They’ll create metrics that provide a meaningful picture of how well companies socially engage with customers. They’ll provide concrete direction for what to do with all those fans and followers.

Question 2: How can businesses not be left behind?

Here’s the best way to avoid being left behind: get down to business first. Be social second. Find a sizable business objective where a social approach can help you achieve it. “Social” as a concept is just vague and overwhelming. So the best way not to be left behind in “social” is to think about socializing what drives your business. Wanting to improve customer service? Then “social service” might be your way in. Hoping to drive the top line? Then perhaps “social commerce” is a reasonable entry point. Tackle what’s old in a new way.

Question 3: What is going to happen in three years and beyond in the world of social?

Eventually, social will go the way of the phrase ‘world wide web’. We won’t need a special moniker for social. It will cease to be new and differentiated because it will be an intrinsic part of how we engage with consumers. Many of the questions we now ask about social technologies will seem as absurd as asking about the ROI of the telephone or a corporate website. Offline and online channels will be more fully linked—though there will still be work to do on integrating data and analytics across these engagement points. Dynamic content created by social customers will replace the static content that we know online today. Essentially, information, service and expertise will be ‘on demand’ and incredibly personalized to a consumer’s needs.

Companies that can keep the pace and evolve with this social, demanding consumer will win.

What Does RightNow Technologies Think of Social Business?

Next in our quest for vendor’s thoughts on Social Business is RightNow Technologies.  Want to read the previous ones? Here are OracleAttensityFuze DigitalMoxie SoftwareSAP, and GetSatisfaction.

1. Where is the Social world going to be in 12 months? 24 months?

As the social web continues to grow at a staggering pace, and as consumers rapidly flock to social sites and mobile devices, companies are aggressively working to assimilate social into business-as-usual.

Leading brands we’re working with are approaching this in three ways:

  1. Integrating social more deeply into the operational fabric of their global customer experience operations;
  2. weaving social more seamlessly across business goals/departments and geographies;
  3. extending the reach of their operations to natively include the emerging dominant social networks (fb, twitter, youtube).

To do this and succeed with social, companies are actively integrating conversations with company knowledge and social identities with contacts, bringing workflow to social as they do to traditional channels, and seeking a holistic view of customer experience analytics to move beyond community heath metrics to true attributable business impact.

2. How can business not be left behind

The only way to keep up is to simply start “being social”.  The most advanced and exciting social strategies we see are from folks who have tried a few things.

The best way for businesses to start is to weave social into the things they’re already doing.  A few places to start:

  • Have a web self-service knowledge base?  Allow customers to comment on articles, and set up a community best answers area to see what questions customers ask that you haven’t authored for, and allow other customers to answer them.
  • Have a Facebook fan page?  Give your a customers a reason to like you by adding a support tab. Let customers search your knowledge base, answer each other’s questions, even engage a support agent, all without leaving Facebook.
  • Set up a @AskYourBrand twitter account, and equip your agents who respond to emails to answer to tweets as well.  Taking a conversation seamlessly from the social web to another channel (from twitter to chat or email) is a great engage customers and scale proactive social support.

3. What is going to happen in three years and beyond in the world of social?

Customer service will quietly become the new heart of marketing and of commerce.  Companies are already realizing their brands are no longer defined by what they say about themselves, but by the customer experiences they deliver every day.  The companies that figure out how to make the transition from their current “image brands” to real-time “experience brands” will lead the market.  To get there:

  • Companies will rewire themselves to be more customer-centered, relationship-oriented, and transparent.  The lines between traditional departments of support, marketing, and commerce will disappear.
  • Marketing: marketers will become curators of brand not creators of it — they’ll follow, respond, and tune the ebbs and flows of customer conversation, opinion, and sentiment.
  • Customer service: the future contact centers will be better described as customer engagement centers, as they’ll be responsible for fulfilling on brand promises one interaction at a time with flawless execution.

As consumers, we can expect the companies we care about to behave more like friends — to know who we are when we reach out, to pick up conversations where we last left off, to listen to and act on our feedback, and most importantly to honor our trust and respect our privacy.

What Did Maslow Know About Customer Centricity? It Ain't Happening!

Abraham Maslow is spinning on his grave these days.

So many mis-interpretations of his work and theories abound, no wonder he is being made responsible for a slew of problems in this world that don’t even belong in his ground-breaking Hierarchy of Needs.

The concept of the pyramid is quite simple — humans grow as our needs are met.  Got a roof over your head? Get married.  Happy Marriage? Go get a job.  Got a job? Keep it.  Secure in your job? Help others.  The chain continues to the level of self-actualization – a point where we are complete and happy.

The problem is that this evolution has hiccups and kinks along the way, some of which are not solvable by the majority of the population.  For example, people tend to stay in unsastifactory marriages or jobs for a multitude of reasons that don’t fall in the realm of this post.  Those people cannot evolve to a higher level until they fulfill their current one.  If you are unhappy with your job then helping others is not a natural instinct – you are more proclive to help yourself first.

I don’t want to turn this into some thesis on Developmental Psychology, just use the basic information to assert my belief: Maslow knew that humans cannot be customer-centric (at least most of us), he just never quite said it in those words.  Hear me out.

To be customer centric you need to be at the very least realized at the level of job security (second layer in the above pyramid).  If you are not realized with job security, you are not going to progress to the next level.

This is the barrier for organizations becoming customer-centric: employees that are not secure in their jobs.  Mind you, it is not entirely their fault (again, in most cases) since their main aim is not to please their customer but rather please their bosses.  In turn, those bosses are there to please their bosses, who are there to justify their bonuses — usually tied to efficiency metrics not related to customer effectiveness and customer-centricity.

Maybe a cynic way to look at the world, but tell me it is not reality in your organization.

The problem is that as much as you (as a worker or even a manager) wants to provide customer-centric service and focus, the people above you don’t get paid to do that.  Blake Landau describes how Zappos surpasses this problem (and in the process describes the politics of fear at work quite well for companies unlike Zappos) in her recent post.

Bottom Line: Organizations cannot be customer-centric until the top-bosses embrace the concept, get compensated for it, and enforce adoption across the organization.

Once the top-boss is customer-centric (read compensated to care about customers more than himself), Maslow assures us that the rest of the organization will be also Customer Centric.

What do you think? Ever had to decide between keeping your job and making your customers happy?

What Does GetSatisfaction Think of Social Business?

Next in our series of opinions on Social Business is GetSatisfaction.  Interested in the previous ones?  Check out OracleAttensityFuze Digital, Moxie Software, and SAP.

Where is the social world going in 12 months?

Clearly the impact of social networks, and I am primarily talking about Facebook, is being felt by companies that rely on social channels in any way. Interoperability with Facebook and the analytics around measurement of impact will accelerate over the next year.

The addition of mobile and location based feature sets will also be an important area for vendors and companies alike to focus on, which will bleed over into an evolved definition of localization that is much more finely grained than language selection alone.

Lastly, increasing the fidelity of social channels will emerge as a priority for business operating on social channels. There is simply too much noise in the system today and as company capabilities increase so too will their expectations of vendors. We would define fidelity as increasing signal to noise and most importantly the measurement of discrete business objectives that have a social dimension to them.

How Can Businesses Not Be Left Behind?

Some will, on each side of the vendor/customer equation. The world is changing in dramatic and unpredictable ways and the environments that businesses of all stripes operate in is changing with equal veracity.

In the medium and long term many companies have to look at social as not something new they do in addition to everything else they have done but rather as a call to action for restructuring to accommodate different modalities in their business and also how their employees interact with them. Technology is only part of the solution and just like the emergence of the Internet itself forced dramatic business change so does the emergence of social.

What is going to happen 3 years and beyond?

I can’t say with certainty or specificity what will happen in 3 years. Just think back 3 years ago… if I told you that you would be communicating with your customers in 140 characters or less and that you would be asking them to “like” you, would you have believed me? Nobody then could have predicted the dramatic impact nor the speed which it has happened as a result of social networks in 2010 and I don’t believe that predictions for what will happen 3 years out hold much water.

What Does SAP Think of Social Business?

Next in our series of opinions on Social Business is SAP.  Interested in the previous ones?  Check out Oracle, Attensity, Fuze Digital, and Moxie Software.

1.  Where is the Social world going in 12 months?  In 24 months?

Over the next 12 months, I envision the social world continue to grow rapidly into various avenues both in the consumer and the business to business segments.  There is an explosion of new business ideas germinating to leverage the growing adoption of social media and networks, along with the explosive growth of smart phones, and we will start to see more exciting applications emerge to leverage the combined phenomenon of social interactions and anytime, anywhere connectivity.  In particular, I see the continued rapid growth of smart phones exponentially increase the number of participants in social media globally, and this is indeed going to be exciting – as when people, like my 76 year old aunt, suddenly became a Facebook addict after she got herself an iPhone!

In the B2B front, the leverage of social media for customer service is getting more and more established, and the ROI is also becoming very clear.  I foresee a lot more companies getting on this bandwagon.  Marketers are going to still experiment to figure out where the ROI lies; this is becoming more of an art than a science and the creative types will find ways to surge ahead and win.  Measurement tools and techniques for social media impact will continue to mature offering marketers better insight and guidance.

Around the 24 months timeframe, I do foresee participants in social media challenged by an overdose of channels, information, applications, and just plain noise.  Already, I am finding it challenging to catch up with the top 4 or 5 channels I want to be plugged into. And there are at least a dozen more clamoring for my attention, for which I have not enough time in my day.  People are going to pause and ask ‘Where is all this madness leading me to?’  This would then lead to some consolidations, more meaningful and useful ideas winning, etc.

2. How can businesses not be left behind?

Now, which business in its right mind is not already doing something with social media today?  The experimentations will continue.  The smart ones who can figure out how best to create attraction and meaning to their audiences will surge ahead, and leave others wondering “What the heck happened?   Did something just flash by me?”  Businesses do not have a choice but to participate in social media today.

3. What’s going to happen in three years and beyond in the world of social?

Since three years is eternity in social media terms, anything can happen and I will throw in my speculation.  One big thing that can happen is the end to marketing and sales as we know it today.  In a world where consumers are telling other consumers and companies what they need and how they need it, where companies are building products and solutions that customers are asking, where evangelical groups of consumers eagerly spread the experience of delight, what’s the need for today’s marketers and sales people?  These jobs are going to get transformed in very significant ways, and today’s marketers and sales guys better watch out!  Start engaging to build an identity and a social media following to be relevant in the not-too-distant future.

What Does Moxie Software Think of Social Business?

Next in our series of opinions on Social Business is SAP.  Interested in the previous ones?  Check out OracleAttensity, and Fuze Digital.

1)      Where is the Social world going to be in 12 months? 24 months?

Companies have traditionally segmented their external customer information from their internal enterprise collaboration, but the real value and power will come from bridging the two. The integration of external customer facing communities and internal employee engagement solutions, will lead to a breakthrough in the way companies collaborate and engage with each other, their partners and customers.  This will lead to measurable business value from accelerating innovation to improving communications and delighting customers.

Businesses will see faster innovation, deeper customer relationships, expanded market presence, improvements in complex business processes, and ultimately a stronger competitive advantage in marketplace.  This realization of the value of mobilizing collective knowledge, capability, and resources will empower and inspire teams and workgroups and spark an even deeper commitment to creating and fostering a collaborative culture.  To meet the ever increasing demand, social enterprise software vendors will evolve solutions with deeper and richer distribution, filtering and organization of business data.

2)      How can businesses not be left behind?

The very first step for an organization is to create and nurture a climate for sharing, connecting and solving problems collaboratively.  Participation needs to be intuitive, easy and require no training.  Participants should be rewarded for contributing expertise and helping each other.

Consider social enterprise software that is designed around the way people work, not around workflows and documents.  This will dramatically increase adoption and help avoid creating collaborative environments that are “empty” and disconnected from what individuals need to get their work done. The solution they pick needs to offer an intuitive user experience with zero training required and plug easily into existing business applications. Companies have invested a lot in other enterprise applications and any solution that drives collaboration, needs to easily integrate with existing systems that people use for document management, email, calendar, etc..  And finally, it needs to easily adopt the existing security standards set by each  company, so each user can access data and approve processes they are authorized to do so from within their social enterprise software.

3)      What is going to happen in three years and beyond in the world of social?

Macrowikinomics: Rebooting Business and the World, co authored by Don Tapscott, Chairman of nGenera Insight a business unit of Moxie Software examines the impact of collaboration on business and the world.  The authors state the many of today’s institutions are not functioning properly and have reached the end of their lifecycle. They explain the need for mass collaboration in areas such as transportation, finance, education, health care, journalism and government.

Changes of this magnitude have occurred before. In fact, human societies have always been punctuated by periods of great change that not only cause people to think and behave differently, but also give rise to new social orders and institutions. In many instances these changes are driven by disruptive technologies that penetrate societies to fundamentally change their culture and economy.

Wikinomics heralds the profound benefits of social, including the opportunity to broaden access to science and knowledge, impose greater transparency on financial markets, accelerate the invention and adoption of green technologies, and help make today’s leaders in business and government accountable for delivering outcomes that enhance well-being around the world.

What Does FuzeDigital Think of Social Business?

Third post on this series, more to come next week — first one was Oracle, second one was Attensity and today we have FuzeDigital answering the questions on the future of Social Business.

1. Where is the Social world going to be in 12 months? 24 months?

People will continue to congregate on some organization’s Facebook page, but in reality I suspect that less than 5% of organizations have the type of offering that will bring together consumers to interact with each other in any material volumes.  With rare exception, they will also not come to interact with staff for anything but getting an answer or something resolved.  More organizations will understand that it is in their best interest to monitor activity regarding their brand across the entire Web and direct activity for follow-up as appropriate by relevant PR, Sales and Support staff.  It will become clear that it is not in an organization’s best interest to cater to customers who are trying to bypass other support queues or grandstand with their “friends” to unfairly force a company’s hand and that what most consumers really expect is easy access to high quality support that quickly and accurately addresses their needs and facilitates open discussions with other relevant stakeholders to ensure broad perspectives are leveraged and that companies are accountable for their actions.  Responding to this insight and the realization that the Web has put their offering’s value and support center stage, organizations will focus on building their core communications and support infrastructure to support many to many communications capable of providing consistent, high quality support across all support channels.  Once they have done this sufficiently, organizations will be able to extend access to this infrastructure as appropriate to social network sites relevant to their stakeholders.  When people complain in social networking sites about organizations that offer this type of infrastructure and accessibility, they will be apologized to and politely directed to the organization’s resources where they can choose to constructively resolve issues in an open or private communication resource.  Consumers with fair expectations and intentions won’t care if clicking on a link within the social network to get an answer or seek a resolution results in opening a new browser tab or opens a tab within the social networking site itself.  Under any scenario companies have forever lost much of the control they once had over consumers, but to totally abdicate to the consumer is certainly foolhardy.

2. How can businesses not be left behind?

Don’t get distracted by the hype and instead understand how being “social” with your customers, staff, partners and other stakeholders can impact the short-term and long-term health and profitability of your organization and execute accordingly.

3. What is going to happen in three years and beyond in the world of social?

Although some will see this earlier, many organization will just begin to want to expand this collaboration beyond consumers and some staff relating to consumer-related issues to include all stakeholders on all issues that impact the health and profitability of their organization’s ecosystem.  However, the honeymoon period for “social” technology will be waning and the thought of free flowing communications without accountability will be considered unacceptable.  Companies that have invested in both E2.0 and SCRM technology will need to spend lots of money to somehow blend this siloed content and expertise and more and more software will be sold as Social Business Software.