The Essentials To Planning A Successful Support Community

I was speaking with an eBusiness executive today who summarized his efforts around launching a support community in three succinctly non-ambiguous words: “It ain’t easy.”

A community can have many strategic purposes: PR, brand management, product development, customer service.

My colleague Melissa Parrish has written a really helpful report called “Community Management Checklist.” If you are considering launching — or have launched and want to optimize — a community, I highly recommend this report.

If your objectives are customer service-related, you will have unique requirements such as securing and rewarding internal product experts’ participation and creating internal guidelines around when to respond. To date, there hasn't been a wealth of established best practices for support communities. To assist in launching a support community, we’ve just published my report called, “Essentials To Planning A Successful Support Community.”

As a user of support communities, I’ve often wondered about what motivated these helpful strangers to guide me through resolving a download hiccup on my iTunes upgrade or navigating the mysteries of changing toner on my new printer. I’ve learned that — while their motivation may be a mystery to me — a good community manager knows exactly why each of these super-users participate, for example, for recognition, helping other people, or product passion. Some support community managers even telephone enthusiasts to develop direct relationships with them.

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Business Technology 2020 – Questions And Answers

What will business and technology be like in 2020 – and what’s IT’s place in this new world? This is the subject of a teleconference that James Staten and I held for our clients yesterday and also the subject of an upcoming Forrester report.

In this teleconference, we painted a picture of the impact of business-ready, self-service technology, a tech-savvy and self-sufficient workforce, and a business world in which today’s emerging economies dwarf the established ones, bringing a billion new consumers with a radically different view of products and services, as well as in which surging resource costs – especially energy costs – crush today’s global business models. 

In the past, when new waves of technology swept into our businesses – everything from the 1980s’ PCs to today’s empowered technologies – the reaction was the swinging pendulum of “decentralized/embedded IT” followed by “centralized/industrialized IT.” These tired old reactions won’t work in the world 2020. Instead, businesses must move to a model we call Empowered BT.

Empowered BT empowers business to pursue opportunities at the edge and the grassroots – but to balance this empowerment with enterprise concerns. Key to this balance is the interplay between four new “meta roles” – visionaries, consultants, integrators, and sustainability experts – combined with a new operating model based on guidelines, mentoring, and inspection. Also key is IT changing from a mindset in which it needs to control technology to one in which it embraces business ownership of technology decisions.

The teleconference chat window was busy as James and I presented our research. Here are the questions we weren’t able to answer due to time.

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Want To Change Your CRM Game? Push Customer-Facing Processes Into The Social Cloud

As the year comes to a close, it’s good to put a wrap on it by reviewing all the shifts — both subtle and seismic — that have rocked the world of enterprise architecture (EA). I really enjoyed Gene Leganza’s recent look back — and look ahead — on the top 15 EA technology trends, and not just because he incorporated findings from my recent Empowered reports on social network analysis and analytics-driven engagement in multichannel customer relationship management (CRM).

You can read those Empowered reports to get a deep dive on how those trends evolved in 2010 and what we see on the horizon for 2011 and beyond. Fundamentally, Forrester considers deep customer engagement through social media as a hallmark of the leading-edge customer service operation. A growing range of companies have established social-media-based customer communities for service and support, involving various blends of social media, blogging, and other approaches.

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