November 2007 - Successful communities start right here. And here’s the latest news about online customer support communities from your friends at Lithium Technologies.
Keeping Good Company FileMaker, Juniper Networks, and Thomson Scientific have launched support communities with Lithium in the last few weeks. Click here to see other companies who are deploying online communities as an exciting and cost-effective new channel in their support ecosystem.
Building Successful Communities Joe Cothrel, an expert in managing online community, shares his insights about how to succeed. Hint: software is only part of the solution.
#2: Appoint a community manager who conducts planning and day-to-day decision-making. Like any other business initiative, online communities require planning and management. The community manager is responsible for basic configuration decisions, feature choices, forum structure, and granting permissions and roles. The community manager is also responsible for communication out to the community, and is the single point of contact for community members who have issues or concerns to resolve. Read more on the requirements for success.
Spotting a Trend Dan Greenfield covers the intersection of new media with PR, Marketing & Communications. He’s seeing a trend:
“Clearly, the customer support model has come a long way – from one-on-one calls into a support center then to users helping themselves through a company knowledge base to today where more customers are using social networks to get their answers.”
Dan interviewed Lithium’s Joe Cothrel and SSPA’s John Ragsdale and blogged about it here. Dan Greenfield, New Media Blogger
Meeting an Unlikely Customer Hero Last month we introduced you to X2Wolverine from Real Networks. One reader challenged us, “Sure, it’s easy to find people to help other users with online music and video, but what about my business?” Not all our heroes wear headphones! This month we’re spotlighting Fused, a super-user from Fair Isaac’s myFico Forums, where the subject is credit reports. Although Fico’s support community is just eight months old, Fused is already averaging 98 posts per week and enjoys helping his peers navigate the intricacies involved with their credit scores. Find out what motivates him in his Member Spotlight profile. “I don’t visit FICO forums, I’m a permanent resident!” Fused
Looking Ahead Get ready. Soon Community Managers can define their own secret formulas for ranking members, using any weighted combination of user metrics. And that includes the latest accepted solutions feature we shared with you last month. With our new enhanced ranking feature, it’s easy to customize your members’ ranks anytime based on what’s important to you. Use any of dozens of criteria. And even factor in your own unique business metrics via SSO.
Stay tuned ... Other new features are available in our Fall 2007 release. Watch this space for the complete word on it in the December issue.
Joining In We'd love to hear your thoughts on our newsflash - please join in with your comments below.
And remember you can join us any Thursday at 11am PT to learn lots more during our free weekly Webinar.
OK for this month, remember that we’re all in this together … Successful communities start right here.
Lithium Technologies Marketers, Russ & Jess
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With our rash of new hiring and the rapidly growing demand for new support communities, we were busting at the seams of our old office space here in Emeryville. Luckily, we were able to move right across the parking lot into a hip warehouse space in the historic Heritage Square complex. We've been settled in for about a month now and the space hums with excitement. Take a look.
Tons of natural light, color and open space keep the energy high.
With ping pong, pool, video games, and HDTV, it's tough to get anyone outside.
Our new corporate ID, colors and iconography blend right in.
Give a shout the next time you are in the Bay area and come visit ...
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Successful communities start right here. And here’s the latest community industry buzz from your friends at Lithium Technologies for October 2007.
You’re in Good Company 16 new support communities have just joined the “powered by Lithium” ranks. AT&T, British Telecom, DoubleClick, Future Shop, SanDisk, and Qwest are just a few of the companies that have recently launched new online communities as an exciting and cost-effective new channel in their support ecosystem. And, Dell and Linksys have both added a few new language versions alongside their existing communities. Click here to see the other savvy companies deploying support communities with us .
Future Shops' Virtual Expert Aaron guides visitors to the community
Requirements for Successful Communities Our Joe Cothrel has been leading the charge in community research since the mid-90s. We’ll share his valuable insights into what's really required to create and manage online communities that are truly successful in this continuing series. Tip #1: Select a business owner in charge of overseeing budget and setting direction. Zero in on business ownership to ensure the company mission and user mission are well defined, and the direction of the community remains up-to-date and pertinent.
Support Communities are Making Mainstream News The Wall Street Journal recently reported on the widening adoption of peer-to-peer support: “…some other sites, particularly technology ones, are relying on discussion forums. Their basic appeal is easy to understand: They enable especially knowledgeable customers to help the less knowledgeable, at little cost to the company.” Michael Totty features Lithium and our client, Palm, in this special technology report “Companies Expand Online Support”.
Discover Your Customer Heroes Influencers. Mavens. Opinion-Makers. They are the elusive 1 in 10. And if you do things right, they are willing and eager to actively participate in your community. X2Wolverine has been helping his peers in the Real Networks support community for over 2.5 years and averages 48 posts per week. As an active gamer, he lends the most help on the RealArcade Games boards and is also a member of the Dell and Logitech boards. Find out what motivates him in this Member Spotlight profile.
"It puts a smile on my face when I see someone who needs help & I help them out."
Upcoming Features Soon it'll be easier to know which answers resolved your customers' questions and to see what questions still need to be escalated for additional support. With the upcoming 'accepted solutions' feature any thread can be marked as ‘answered’ by the member who originated the thread, or by super users that you designate. Now even more of your support issues can be clearly measured as resolved or not, right in the forums.
Stay tuned ... we're gearing up to introduce a few more new support features with our Fall 2007 release. Watch this space for the advance word on them in the upcoming issues.
Jump In We'd love to hear your thoughts on our newsflash - please jump in with your comments. And remember you can join us any Thursday at 11am PT to learn lots more during our free weekly Webinar.
OK for this month, remember that we’re all in this together … Successful communities can start right here.
Lithium Technologies Marketers, Russ & Jess Message Edited by Russ on 10-18-2007 08:36 AM
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Lithium is thrilled to have participated with over 400 of our industry peers in the Fall Services Leadership Conference of the Service & Support Professionals Association (SSPA) this Sep 30 – Oct 2 in New Orleans. It was exciting to see almost every keynote reference the importance of community in the support arena. And we were happy to share our experiences on how successfully run online communities are proving to be one of the most cost-effective and exciting new support channels available anywhere and a regular part of how companies interact with their customers.
For those of you who weren't onsite, here's a chance to see how online communities can become that first line of defense and an invaluable part of your support ecosystem in this short demo.
And here's a recap of how Lithium was able to contribute at this year's event:
1. Co-authors of the official SSPA Support Community RFP (coming soon from John Ragsdale)
2. Co-sponsors of the support research study "Generational Differences in Support Attitudes" referenced by Steve Smith in his keynote (results to be published in November)
3. Presentors at the "Preparing for Web 2.0" pre-conference workshop
4. Presentors of the Tools & Technology speaking session "Successful Communities Start Right Here" lead by Joe Cothrel and our client, Tarik Mahmoud of Linksys
5. Exhibitors in the Tech Expo with our new 10x20 "Virtual Agent" booth display
6. Silver Sponsors of the SSPA Session Track “Developing a World-Class, Scalable Support Infrastructure”
7. Exclusive Sponsors of the STAR Awards & Lunch
Be sure to watch for the upcoming new SSPA online community powered by Lithium over the next few months ...
And a BIG kudos to the SSPA for bringing us to New Orleans. The downtown business center and French Quarter were more than ready for us. It's definitely time to go back to New Orleans and show your support after Katrina. Message Edited by Russ on 10-30-2007 11:49 AM
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Back in the day, all conferences were either in the Fall or the Spring. Now with CES and MacWorld fighting for the first few days of every January and E3 taking over convention centers around the country every July, it's a continually year round circuit of industry events ... even in our Support world. We’ve had a busy end-of-summer over the past few weeks with participation at a few of the biggest Support shows: Customer Self Service, dCRM, and the RightNow Technologies North American User Conference. Altogether we assembled with over 1,500 customer service and support professionals to discuss topics ranging from call center efficiencies to CRM advances to the benefits of peer-support with online communities. We led popular discussions in sessions like "Harness Community Spirit for Your Self Service Efforts" at CSS, with our clients, Tom Diederich and Dawn De-Levi of Symantec; “Radically Improve Customer Service Through Online Communities” at dCRM; and “How to Engage Customer Interaction and Collaboration Through Customer Communities” at RNT, with our client, Jennifer Crawford of Fair Isaac. Our Joe Cothrel was zipping across country overnight to speak at the conference sessions. And we had booths and sponsorships to supplement our participation in all 3 expo halls. Feedback has been extremely encouraging with more and more attendees looking to talk about communities as a hot new support channel.
Karen Orton and Greg Joy before the dCRM Show open in NYC.
Did you attend any of the August Support shows? If so, weigh-in with what your insights and comments on what you observed and where you think the future of support is heading. Until the next one ...
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