Is Customer Service the New Marketing? | Fast Company

Yesterday I attended the VCN Annual Conference in the Netherlands. The chair of the Dutch Customer Service Federation announced 3 action points because of the T-Mobile customer service riot. These are reducing waiting lines, improved collaboration and improving complaint management.  Not a very effective approach in 2011, in my humble opinion.  May be time to acknowledge and start acting according to insights like these.

Found at Is Customer Service the New Marketing? | Fast Company.

How Thor Muller and the gang at Get Satisfaction have helped thousands of companies and millions of consumers transform the fundamental notions of customer service.

Thor MullerJust three years ago, you needed to be a prominent blogger like Jeff Jarvis or Bob Garfield to make an online noise loud enough to inspire a company response to a particular product or service issue. It was about that time that Thor Muller, Co-founder and CTO of Get Satisfaction, developed an online tool that would “allow anybody that same power,” to in essence, “get satisfaction by pulling the company in.

To be continued at


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Jeff Jarvis about “The Future of (your) Business Is in Ecosystems”

From the author of the book “What would Google do”. And make a connection what would you or your business do?

Found at

Last week, I said that the future of news is entrepreneurial (not institutional). Today, a sequel: The future of business is in ecosystems (not conglomerates or industries).

At the Foursquare conference last week, I was struck by the miss-by-a-mile worldviews held by the chiefs of big, old conglomerates and the entrepreneurs starting new, nimble companies. The conference is off the record, so I won’t quote anyone by name. And in truth, these are the same conversations I hear often elsewhere. Having these different tribes conveniently in the same room merely focused the contrast for me.

In one moment, a very successful mogully man was slack-jawed in amazement at how little money – “$50,000!” – one of three entrepreneurs had used to start another fast-growing enterprise. The big man thinks big – that’s what made him big. The small guys think small and get big by using existing platforms and depending on their users to like and market them. To the new guys, it’s so obvious.

Here was the key moment for me last week: In a discussion about the importance of distribution, some start-up guys – each the creators of new enterprises that took off like gun shots – were asked by a representative of the big, old club which company they would most want to do distribution deals with. The start-up guys cocked their heads like confused puppies. Why would we want to do that? they asked. What was unsaid: Doing a deal with one company would be so limiting. We get our distribution through customers and developers, through embedding and APIs and social connections. That’s how we grew so big so fast for so little. Don’t you see that?

No, they don’t.

This week, we see this contrast, too, in Rupert Murdoch’s threat – he thinks it’s a threat – to cut off Google (GOOG). Nose. Face. Cut. Spite. Murdoch – who doesn’t use the internet – does not see how distribution works today. He does not understand that being open to the link economy brings him free distribution, free marketing, great benefit. That’s because he, like his fellow old machers, won by taking control rather than giving it up. This new world is utterly inside-out from the world they built. It breaks all their rules and makes new ones (which is what I tried to analyze in What Would Google Do?). That’s what makes it so damned hard for them to understand it.

In our New Business Models for News at CUNY, we saw quickly that a big, old newspaper company was not going to be replaced by a big, new newspaper company but that instead, news would come more and more from ecosystems made up of scores of companies operating under different means, motives, and models, each dependent on the others to optimize their success. That is why we built in networks that enable separate sites to join, creating critical mass they can sell to advertisers. That is also why we factored in the benefit of platforms, cutting their infrastructure costs to near-zero.

And there, I believe, is the structure of the future of business in the new, post-industrial, decentralized, opened economy. Oh, sure, every economy has always been an ecosystem made up of interdependent relationships. But they were based on zero-sum arithmetic: take and control so others cannot. They work at arm’s length. They negotiate every relationship.

Sure, even in the huggy ecosystem, companies fight and compete. But in an ecosystem-based economy, companies benefit – they find efficiency and growth – by working collaboratively. As I see it, the new economy and its opportunities will be built in three layers:

1. Platforms. There’s tremendous benefit in building a platform and the more people use to succeed, the more the platform succeeds. Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon (AMZN), eBay (EBAY) – you know all the examples.

2. Entrepreneurial enterprises.
Thanks to the platforms, it’s incredibly inexpensive to start new companies. It’s also a helluva lot cheaper to fail (and try again). This is why I believe that the future of news – and many other industries – is entrepreneurial: because it can be. It’s not just media and its bits. It’s manufacturing (because you can use others’ factories and distribution channels and your own customers as your platforms).

3. Networks. It is still necessary to gather the smalls together into bigs: audience brought together so advertisers can buy access to them more easily; purchasing brought together to get better prices. So there is business in creating and serving these networks.

For the sake a PowerPoint, a diagram of the three layers of an ecosystem-based economy:


In our New Business Models for News Project, this is how I (crudely) drew the ecosystem for news.


How do you draw the conglomerate-based industry? With boxes, each separate, with arrows pointing to each other at a distance. Simplistic? Sure, but the change in the worldview of the new economy looks that basic when you hear the two tribes trying to understand each other.

And if you haven’t had enough of my silly charts, here’s another on video.


Please feel free to react on his post on his site or on this blog! And anyway act!!

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Reconciling social computing with the enterprise

An author I highly esteem, is Dion Hinchcliffe This post is included because it give you insights on how to connect to our changing contexts as a consequence of social media and enterprise 2.0


June 8th, 2009 Posted by Dion Hinchcliffe @ 5:07 pm

Umair Haque wrote an impressive tract on his Harvard Business blog late last week about Twitter and how it changes the rules of innovation.

It’s an incisive and challenging piece that well worth reading if your looking at cutting-edge business trends. It also helps surface what’s turning into an increasingly larger gap between what happens in the business world and what happens everywhere else.

It will sometimes be a challenge to find the right metrics that help you to drive decisions about your social computing behaviors that improve the business.

Jeff Jarvis and Michael Arrington made similar points over the weekend about process vs. product, ostensibly about their particular industry (journalism) and how social processes are competing — often more effectively, though very differently — with traditional, non-social “product” creations, namely news stories.

As we’ll see, you can find similar examples of this now in many other industries.

The key point: The processes involved in how we accomplish our daily work are being transformed by social tools on the network. Along the way, the act of work itself is becoming more of a collective journey instead of a final destination as our individual work experiences become more open, collaborative, participatory, and social.

The net result is often better and richer outcomes, though the journey can occasionally devolve into a less-than-deterministic result that can be (for the time being) rather unsatisfying, though rarely does it come to a complete stop until everyone who wants to has a crack at it.

On the other hand, the classical way of working has been to create finished, perfect-as-possible outcomes (products, services, etc.) from opaque, unknowable, lengthy processes which outsiders, within or outside the organization, could not directly perceive, alter, or improve. As Jarvis writes of traditional work methods:

It is the byproduct of the means and requirements of mass production: If you have just one chance to put out a product and it has to serve everyone the same, you come to believe it’s perfect because it has to be, whether that product is a car (we are the experts, we took six years to tool up, it damned well better be perfect) or government (where, I’m learning, employees have a phobic fear of mistakes – because citizens and journalists will jump on them) or newspapers (we package the world each day in a box with a bow on it – you’re welcome).

The key point here is the broader changes we are experiencing today: The pervasive presence of social software and today’s highly open, interactive, and remixable Web embedded deeply into our personal lives is increasingly allowing us to experience a new way of living. And it’s one that bears less and less resemblance to the workplace all the time, with significantly differing behaviors, skills, tools, and expectations. This situation creates a delta that, sooner or later, will simply become untenable for many organizations. We simply aren’t keeping up with the pace of change, never mind that not all workers are experiencing the change of the modern world the same way or at the same speed. Media sharing sites, social networks, and social tools have become embedded deeply in a large percentage of people’s lives, just as long as we remember it’s not everyone.

This increasing distance between these two worlds creates a gap — a disconnect, even — that increasingly cuts organizations off from their most valuable assets (their people) and also exerts a subversive force on organizations as their workers help themselves to the tools of their own volition, bring their (and arguably better) new behaviors and processes to work, and try to get things done with them, whether that’s crowdsourcing, Enterprise 2.0, online customer communities, etc.

Enterprise Social Computing: New Social Behaviors, Skills, and Expectations Imposing Change on Traditional Organizations

So what will happen?

Will there just continue to be a growing chasm between the worlds of business and how we do things outside of work? Or will the gap just become too large to sustain, with an equilibrium shift suddenly taking place in some way that creates what I’ll call (for want of a better term), a social singularity.

Singularities are popular topics with tech audiences. Read about technology singularities and Internet singularities.

A social singularity would be embodied by a convergence of our social behaviors, skills, tools, and expectations between the workplace and our personal lives (and any other distinct settings). In practical terms, these different environments will never be exactly identical, but in a singularity they would be far more similar than they are different. In other words, it’s the effective collapse of the barriers separating our work habits and personal habits for engaging in group behavior (i.e, team work, collaboration, etc). When it takes place, it would simply reflect the realization that we are both creatures of habit as well as prefer to use the easier/best tools for the job.

In my talks on Web 2.0 in the enterprise, I usually review now well-worn stories of how the network effect of social systems often displaces more traditional systems in the workplace with surprising speed. These are simple examples of singularities taking place. These include how AOL’s Office Wiki platform quickly and largely displaced Documentum, how CIA’s Intellipedia began draining participation and knowledge from official systems of record, or how Doritos has steadily been using crowdsourcing the last few years with thousands of customers to create some fairly impressive results using open business processes. There are many others.

Many of them also show that social computing can be adopted but that they also tend to upset the apple cart. In particular, constituencies that have a stake in doing things the old way are disrupted by new social models for achieving those same business objectives, whether the replacements are highly collaborative work processes or the network co-creation of product designs and other outputs (aka Product Development 2.0).

That’s certainly not to say that there are nothing but success stories.

Fellow ZDNet blogger Jennifer Leggio recently covered the 9 largest social media failures of 2009, which underscores a key point: Organizations won’t trumpet failures and unless the efforts are visible on the Web, the stories often go untold and the lessons unlearnt. Ironically, we’d all learn a lot more about mistakes (which you often learn more from than successes) if only business were more open and social. And that’s the point. Most organizations, despite impressive adoption numbers over the last year of the tools for social computing, are generally failing to appreciate the widening gap between the way they operate and the changes in their workers and the wider world. One small example: In the last couple of months, social sites have become more popular even than e-mail in the U.K. (only Internet search is more often used than social apps), a seismic change indeed, but one in which we ourselves can barely process the implications of, much less the enterprise.

So what’s an organization to do? Are there strategies that can help mitigate the seemingly growing tension, take advantage of new skills and behaviors of our workers, and avoid potential for sudden and/or unexpected changes in our businesses? In fact, is it even possible to intentionally encourage and adopt bottom-up processes? Fortunately, based on the experiences of those that have adopted them, there do seem to be some general strategies that can help.

Strategies for reconciling social computing and the enterprise.

  1. Don’t plan for a specific outcome, plan for a successful new process. Social computing in business (and everything it encompasses such as Enterprise 2.0, online customer communities, etc.) isn’t about figuring it all out ahead of time, it’s the exact opposite. It’s a process of engagement in which the process itself is the star. It’s not even until everyone is involved do you even know what needs to take place. Transforming specific elements of a business intentionally can certainly happen, but social tools will create a successful process jointly with customers, workers, and partners that will continue to evolve and change based on reality on the ground.
  2. Consumer approaches to social computing are usually different than enterprise approaches. I just talked about a singularity converging upon business and the rest of the world, but there’s also no denying that businesses are unique environments in their own right. Rarely do we see the tools, behaviors, and processes of social computing be identical to the consumer Web. They often have their own distinct requirements and flavors. Security, for example, is just as important (if not more so in a world so open and social), different capabilities are required. Two steps are often the way to proceed, create smaller internally communities, learn from them, and then create a more permanent one with the right ingredients.
  3. The more control you give up, the more value you set free. The impedance that top-down management structures create is a vacuum where things won’t happen until decisions are made. In a social computing environment, you have much more access to ideas and inputs to make decisions, even partially formed decisions and decisions-in-process that can be encouraged, directed, approved, or even discouraged. Rather than holding on too tightly to the reins, allow broad margins for workers to operate within with clear mandates on critical parameters for your organization. Healthy, open processes can’t exist where freedom isn’t maximized to the point of best return. Leaders in the organization can then involve themselves selectively into the transparent, social processes of their organizations, tap into the best ideas, and nudge activities in the direction they wish while understanding that they can never understand and control it all.
  4. Social computing literacy differs dramatically by worker, department, and industry. I do not advocate social approaches for their own sake, but the reality is that different parts of the same organization or even entire organizations often have a low social computing maturity. This either puts some workers at a disadvantage in the modern workplace or it puts the entire company at risk if the bottom-line benefits (growth, profitability, efficienty, productivity, etc.) are continue to be borne out. (So far, the story is encouraging). Be aware that just like everyone had to undergo basic office computing literacy 20 years ago, everyone needs to go through social computing literacy in today’s workplace. This isn’t a huge body of knowledge, but it’s essential to ensure that workers (and even entire companies) aren’t left behind and can function well as the workplace evolves in the 2.0 era.
  5. Measure your social computing returns; understand the value you are receiving (or not). As I suggested in my Enterprise 2.0 ROI post recently, measuring return on investment of IT solutions is one of the hardest things to do. But formal ROI might not even be necessary. Understanding key social media metrics such as your blog post-to-comment ratios across your organization, the number of social messages sent daily by workers vs. e-mails, how many wiki edits are made, etc, to get a sense of what is happening and to provide feedback and balance to participants. Counting the number of new product ideas coming in via social channels by customers and how many of those make it into your products (and in turn, if those products do better) is yet another good example. Organizations will all be different and measurement turns blind adoption into something that you have conscious control over, even if it will sometimes be a challenge to find the right metrics that help you to drive decisions about your social computing behaviors that improve the business.


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Newspapers Aren’t Only Ones Struggling with Collaboration; is it not manager?

This post could be one of my items tagged blown to bits. I included it on my blog because of the referral to organizations that are struggling also with collaboration. And as organizations are you and me, please feel free to connect  and react!!

Source: by Ann All 8/6/2009

I’m a former print journalist who’s been working more or less exclusively online for about a dozen years.

(Yeah, I’m old.) Several other print veterans work at IT Business Edge.

All of us have friends who’ve been laid off from newspaper staffs in the past 18 months. Many of our still-employed friends are being asked to take more and more unpaid furloughs. It’s tough out there.

It doesn’t take a genius to see the viability of the traditional newspaper business model has been in decline for years. Newspapers spend far too much money on printing and delivering newspapers to the shrinking number of people who want to consume their news that way. There’s paper, ink, offset presses and the unionized labor that runs them, distribution centers, fleets of delivery trucks, etc., etc.

Yet newspapers appear to remain mired in the second stage of the five stages of grief, anger. They spend more time lashing out at Google, blogs and other media they feel are responsible for their decline than in trying to come up with workable solutions moving forward or to address issues such as a lack of expertise in search engine optimization.

As Jeff Jarvis of BuzzMachine points out, in its latest in a series of attacks on blogs, The New York Times shows its unwillingness to abandon “journalism‘s myth of perfection” and to see journalism as a process rather than a product.

Writes Jarvis:

Online, the story, the reporting, the knowledge are never done and never perfect. That doesn’t mean that we revel in imperfection, as is the implication of The Times’ story – that we have no standards. It just means that we do journalism differently, because we can. We have our standards, too, and they include collaboration, transparency, letting readers into the process, and trying to say what we don’t know when we publish – as caveats – rather than afterward – as corrections.

Old-school journalists want to cling to that control-drven model, as I wrote last month. But how long will that remain possible?

The push toward collaboration is happening all around us, including (for must of us) at work. It’s no longer about producing a “perfect” business report or spreadsheet or chart. (As if there is any such thing.)

It’s about wikis and instant messaging and Sharepoint and other tools that help us collaborate with our coworkers — and increasingly, with customers, suppliers and others.

Sadly, many newspapers continue to simply put the same old control-driven content online rather than involving their readers in the process.

In the same way, many companies simply adopt social tools without making necessary changes to their underlying processes. For those companies, Dion Hinchcliffe offers 12 rules for taking your business social.

Among them: Do not use social channels for traditional push communication. Censorship kills participation. If you’re not sure where your organization ends and the network begins, you’re doing it right.


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