Social Support Communities, SSC, are real and they are here today. As you plan your budgets for 2010 consider how SSC fits into your overall Social Business Strategy. Your customers may not be asking for this today but they will be and you need to be ready before your competitors. The richness of the experience and the cost savings that companies see with SSC will ensure that the companies that deploy SSCs first have a clear competitive advantage.
Sounds great, right? Now, add a little perspective to the conversation.
- I coined the Social Support Community term and I believe in the power of these communities.
- Swimfish, the company I work for, does not have SSC deployed. We will in the future but SSC is a tool that is part of an overall Social Business Strategy. We need to determine how SSC fits into our strategy before we deploy.
- I will write about how you approach this strategy in the near future, just not tonight.
- It is still unclear to me who will be the top one or two players in this space. Stay tuned, I’ll share my thoughts with you as I, and others that I know, learn and share. This is a community-drive learning experience, not the work of one or two people. We will all play a part.
- The price points for today’s SSCs may put them out of reach for most SMBs. As I learn more on pricing for companies like RightNow, Lithium, HelpStream, and others, I’ll will share.
Why should you consider using SSC as part of your Social Business Strategy? Based upon research from companies like Forrester, and real results seen from companies like HP, it is clear that customer engagement in Social Support Communities results in reduced support costs. Customers self-educate, self-support, and require less direct support from your company. The money you save here will enable you to invest in other initiatives.
Ignore the hype that vendors will throw your way about the use of SSC (or SCRM as most vendors still refer to their tools) to generate revenue. While you may seem some revenue gains they will not be impressive for some time and you should not invest in these solutions expecting increased sales. Take a close look at the $2 million in sales Dell reported having earned from Twitter (not SSC but a social channel to compare against). As my friend Prem Kumar noted, this represents 0.0025% of it’s revenue for that time period. While $2 million is impressive, 0.0025% of revenue in a 2 year period is not a large increase for most companies.
I was chatting with my Forrester friend Dr. Natalie Petouhoff today. Here is what she said to me, via Twitter:
RT @JohnFMoore: RT @prem_k: @CRMStrategies ALL case studies show ROI is from #ssc which fuels inc in marketing conversion rates & inc sales
Dr. Petouhoff notes that SSC is the starting point, we agree.
@JohnFMoore new doc coming- want #socialmedia ROI? start w/ #ssc – leads 2 #SCRM -inc marketing conver, inc sales -lower operating costs…
Dr. Petouhoff reinforced that lower operating costs will be seen, will lead to higher marketing conversions and increased sales. They will come in time. The only thing we disagree about is the use of Social CRM vs. Social Business Strategy. However, give me three months and I’m sure we’ll sort that out too.
Also, check out some thoughts from Dr. Petouhoff from May of 2009, she does a nice job discussing in more detail what you should expect in terms of ROI from these solutions.
What do you think? Will you consider SSC in your future?