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Posted by James Kobielus on October 24, 2010
Community is an ideal toward which all social networks should aspire. In a true community, everybody is pulling for everybody else, sharing whatever assistance, expertise, and insight they possess with anybody who might benefit.
We all know that most communities are a bit more one-sided than that. In most communities, most people are essentially there for the ride, contributing little while benefiting from whatever resources the more generous among them have chosen to share. This is not necessarily a criticism of individuals or of society in general, but rather a recognition that as communities scale beyond close personal relationships, the bonds of reciprocity and altruism often grow weak.
This truism applies just as much to customer communities as to any other. Enterprises have avidly adopted social networks as virtual extensions to such customer relationship management (CRM) functions as call centers and user groups. In the new world of social-network customer communities leveraging blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and other channels, it is not uncommon that a handful of individuals post most of the useful content and feedback while the majority simply consume without contributing. And that’s fine, as long as you keep encouraging and incentivizing these actively engaged individuals —whom Forrester refers to as CRM highly empowered and resourceful operatives (HEROes) — to keep the useful content coming. In the final analysis, these are the sorts of individuals — expert customer service professionals, longtime customers, or even highly enthusiastic hobbyists — who can spell all the difference between true community and a haphazard scattering of nominally affiliated strangers.
How can you spot a true CRM HERO when you see one and make them the pillar of your customer satisfaction strategy? I recently published a two-part Forrester study that explains how CRM professionals can bring the best of leading-edge advanced analytics and even some slightly lower-tech approaches to zero in on these HEROes wherever they reside, inside your organization or out on the public social networks. In this two-part study, I discussed the criteria for finding CRM HEROes, which boil down to the following:
Business process professionals can search for these HERO hallmarks in various ways. In each of the following approaches, you can apply various levels of analytics to look for telltale signs of the requisite expertise, influence, and technical innovation:
As social CRM gains traction in enterprises everywhere, leading-edge organizations will focus the full power of advanced analytics on the customer-relevant communications that flow through social media. Influence and expertise-mining tools — leveraging statistics-based social network analysis — are coming to social CRM. If you want to find many of today’s leading CRM HEROes, mine the communications within public social communities as well as within your company’s private social networks. The fact that someone is blazing new trails in social-focused customer communities would indicate that they are, at the very least, a technology-savvy, expertise-sharing influence magnet.
None of these approaches, by itself, is a surefire method of finding CRM HEROes. But they should all be employed to narrow down the list of people who have the motivation, creativity, and influence necessary to become HEROes. It’s up to your organization to give them the recognition and encouragement to realize their potential within your customer community.