Lithium whitepaper: Hey, Tech! Get Serious About Social Customer Enlistment


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Learn about the current state social for tech and why social customer enlistment is a game-changer. Learn how to get social customers to co-create value with you with
gamification—done right. Get sustainable social strategies from Lithium.

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Lithium whitepaper: Hey, Tech! Get Serious About Social Customer Enlistment

  1. 1. hey, tech! get serious about social customer enlistment
  2. 2. 2 share this whitepaper | © 2013 Lithium Technologies, Inc. All Rights Reserved Lithium social software helps the world’s most iconic brands increase loyalty, reduce support costs, drive word-of-mouth marketing, and accelerate innovation. Lithium helps brands to build vibrant customer communities that: contents 1 the state of social for tech 3 the power of enlistment 5 getting to co-creation 6 gamification—done right 7 cultivating superfans 8 sustainable enlistment strategies request a demo subscribe to SocialMatters reduce service costs with social support grow brand advocay with social marketing drive sales with social commerce innovate faster with social innovation
  3. 3. 1 share this whitepaper Bravo to technology and telecommunications companies! You are among the most serious about social. A full 86% of you claim to have implemented at least one social tool— discussion forums, an online community, a Facebook page, a YouTube presence or a Twitter handle. You’re ahead of the second most social industry—professional services—by nearly 10 points. Of the four major categories of social technology (networks, blogs, microblogs and video sharing), social networking shows the deepest investment, more than doubling between 2008 and 2011. While all this is important to note, what really matters is what it means for your business. According to your industry peers, it means that: 1. Those responsible for creating value in your organization is radically changing. The customer is now becoming part of that process in a big way. 2. Work product will increasingly come from self-organized groups—inside and outside of your organization. 3. Decisions based on opinion and experience will be replaced by decisions based on data. the state of social for tech High tech, telecommunications Business legal, professional services Public administration Pharmaceuticals Retailing Transportation Health care, social services Manufacturing Financial services Energy 86 77 74 74 69 69 67 64 64 62 companies using at least 1 social technology Source: McKinsey & Company
  4. 4. 2 share this whitepaper The good news is that tech companies are social leaders. With a relatively high proportion of interaction workers (high- skill knowledge workers) tech companies have been quick to discover how social networking tools can enhance knowledge sharing and collaboration, and increase productivity. The not so good news is that few have come close to unlocking the full potential benefit of social.1 The extent of this missed opportunity varies widely by industry, but it’s especially acute for the technology sector which employs a relatively large proportion of interaction workers. Improved communication, accelerated research and collaboration, and better organized role-based tasks are all available through better application of social technologies. Tech companies are among those who stand to benefit the most from their deployment. 50 40 28 23 41 38 32 29 38 33 31 27 23 19 12 NA 2011 2010 2009 2006 social networking blogs video sharing microblogging social technology adoption Source: McKinsey & Company The boundaries between employees, vendors and customers will blur 35% Teams will self- organize 32% Decisions will be based primarily on the examination of data rather than reliance on opinion and experience 32% most likely organizational changes, 3-5 years Source: McKinsey & Company
  5. 5. 3 share this whitepaper The big difference between those tech companies that do unlock the full potential of social and those that don’t lies in the extent to which they are able to enlist their customers. Socially-savvy organizations use social technologies—social networks, blogs, forums, discussion boards—to enlist customers to help with tasks and responsibilities that have traditionally fallen to interaction workers. Things like answering common questions, providing creative solutions to problems, creating content around product usage, building and curating knowledge bases. And the great news is that we now live in a collaborative economy. If it’s not already, increasingly, your customer base will be made of digital natives—arguably the most collaborative generation we’ve seen by far. Use of social media has increased 356% since 2006. Those who use social media regularly—that’s 91% of all US adults online—spend an average of 11 hours a day connected to the Internet.2 And they’re not all just cooing over baby pics on Facebook. Here’s what happens when a technology company taps the naturally collaborative nature of social media and deploys social technology in a big way. the power of enlistment 34% 74% 55% rely on social media to guide purchase decisions share purchases on social networks choose social networks over traditional eCommerce sites when researching purchaes Social customers love to share Source: Mediabistro
  6. 6. 4 share this whitepaper the Skype enlistment story With more than 200 million customers connecting every month, Skype needed to scale a sustainable win-win customer experience in order to gain and keep competitive advantage. Through community interaction (not agent interaction) they transformed an obscure tech discussion forum into a bona fide peer-to-peer community—in ten languages. Enlisting their most engaged customers, their superfans, to offer speedier answers to new and trending support questions was a key part of this strategy. Skype is a prime example of how a technology company achieves social success in using community to enlist their customers to help create value. They’ve invited their customers to play an entirely new role in the business by enlisting them to act in ways that benefit each other and the brand. In doing so, they’ve ushered in a new kind of social media success that’s not only huge, but sustainable. why enlistment works—it’s sustainable Today, mastery of the social customer experience is a core vital sign for high tech companies. But it’s not at all obvious how to do it well. Loyalty may be your most valuable customer attribute, but only 13% of consumers and 25% of enterprises say they’re ‘very loyal’ to their vendors.3 Because enlisted customers are more effective, more scalable, and more personally relevant (other customers trust them more than they trust you), they help you acquire and engage more customers. Enlisting social customers to help you create value is the basis of getting to that all-important viral loop of social strategy—something truly sustainable. Instead of trying to influence every single social customer yourself, your focus on influencing the influencers will amplify the effects of all your efforts in the long run. Your next job is to get acquired customers to participate in your business—to enlist them, to inspire them to help you create something of mutual value. Things like customers helping you to acquire new customers and superfans helping you create, improve and scale some of your most valuable content online. Done well, your enlistment strategy drives real business objectives—things like increased awareness and new customer acquisition. Customers helping customers also improves the customer experience and drives increased loyalty.
  7. 7. 5 share this whitepaper The essence of enlistment is inspiring customers to work toward a common cause. It’s realized by converting community members with a shared interest into superfans with a shared purpose. The reason for enlistment is co-creation. Think of co-creation as the deepest, most active form of engagement. When customers are co-creating with you, they’re doing things that benefit themselves, other customers, and the brand. The goal is to generate something of such significant value that it motivates continued participation from those participating now—and inspires others to jump in and participate as well. Your engagement strategy is all about moving customers from passive engagement —browsing, viewing, downloading— to increasingly more active forms of engagement—sharing, curating and creating content. Each level of engagement from the most passive to the most active creates progressively greater value. Co-creation comes in several different forms: Co-Ideation – When customers submit and vote on ideas for product features and enhancements Co-Design – When community members participate in the development of new programs, campaigns or products Co-Production - When community members produce content with the brand that other customers use A sense of personal identification with the brand is the hallmark of successful enlistment. When customers co- create value with you, they become enlisted. And when they become enlisted, there’s a sense of belonging with the brand. The trickiest part of enlistment is that customers are not at all obligated to collaborate with brands. And once they do, they don’t have to continue. That’s the blessing and the curse of bona fide customer collaboration: participation is always optional. Giving consumers absolute freedom to participate, or not, in customer communities is not just a good idea—it’s strictly essential. But because participation is optional, it’s not always easy to get people to make that choice, or to continue making it. Which begs the question: how in the world do you get them to participate? What is the secret to long-term enlistment? getting to co-creation
  8. 8. 6 share this whitepaper Anyone can make a game that entices people to play a few times. Very few games, however, are ones people will play for life. Far too much gamification, the introduction of gaming dynamics into online social experiences, focuses on what we call gold star rewards—points, badges, leaderboards, etc. These sorts of rewards will almost always work in the short- term and they’re pretty easy to implement. That makes them super useful to you, but also means they’re not nearly enough to achieve your long-term business objectives. In order to reach those, you need to build into your gamification strategies different time scales of reinforcement. They need to hook consumers into play straight off, and make them want to come back even when the game’s not really the point for them anymore. To do that effectively we need to understand how to motivate people each step of the way. The principal human challenge to long-term gamification is that people eventually master the task before them… and then they get bored. The trick is to calibrate games with a level of challenge that exactly matches a player’s skills and ability. Too easy and it’s boring; too hard and it’s frustrating. For enlistment to happen you need to do more than get the customer’s attention, you’re trying to make participation in your community the satisfaction of a genuine craving. Good gamification strategies adjust the level of difficulty to match the player’s skill. Gamification can (and should be) an essential component of your enlistment strategy. But it must be done with an eye to sustainability, because enlistment is long-term by definition— like loyalty. You have a lot of gamification tools at your disposal—points, badges, and leaderboards. Some of these work to reinforce players immediately, but their effects are fleeting. You can solve the problem of a short-term effect by cascading different gamification tools with successively longer reinforcement timescales. The figure below shows a progression of reinforcements from the simplest, single actions to the richest, most valuable behaviors—reciprocity and collective action. gamification— done right
  9. 9. 7 share this whitepaper The progression from short to long-term motivation succeeds because along the way you and your customers are generating a lot of value. Customers might start out by working for points and badges, but they never stay for ’gold star’ rewards. Customers first get hooked in by points, badges and perks, then get progressively more deeply engaged as they participate in useful activities they deeply and personally care about. Fans become superfans because they personally value the work they do for you in and of itself. Engaged customers identify with your brand, take pride in it, and vest their reputations by contributing to it. Those stronger relationships sustain themselves—and they’re beneficial to everyone. Short timescale rewards work fast and quickly and earn a high level of adoption—they can help you scale. But their shelf life is short. People figure out the game and get tired of playing. Then they start thinking they’ve just wasted a whole bunch of time and they quit. Consider Foursquare, for example. While gaming mechanics drive immediate behavior at a huge scale (over 30 million people play Foursquare) the churn rate is very high (many end up quitting). Earn three badges and a player is usually pretty excited, but at 200 badges who really cares anymore? People figured out the game of Foursquare, and they know they are just going to get another badge. So they stop. Long timescale reinforcement mechanics work more slowly, meaning fewer people get to that stage and only about 1% become superfans. That means with long timescale reinforcements you get sustainability in exchange for scale. But don’t forget that this exceptional 1%—your superfans— is all you really need to scale for social. You might be looking at just a handful of people who actually complete the journey all the way to the furthest end of your spectrum. cultivating superfans
  10. 10. 8 share this whitepaper What you’re aiming for when it comes to enlistment is how to get that viral loop going—building something that’s sustainable over the long haul. In order to get there, you need to tap into things that motivate your customers intrinsically, not extrinsically—that is, activities that create value for themselves. There are two ways to go about that. the value mechanism strategy This strategy jumpstarts activity that has intrinsic long-term value for the player. As consumers engage and participate in gamified activity, reflect back to them the value they’ve created. Initially, you just need to reflect the value they’ve created for themselves to get them hooked and to continue participating. Gradually, using tools with increasing time scales of reinforcement, you can shift the players’ focus from the value they’ve created for themselves to the greater value created for others. Here are some examples: 1. Start with rewarding customers for consumption, “Congrats! You’ve read 100 posts!”—things customers value for themselves. Then move to rewarding them for sharing, “Yay! You shared a post with 500 friends!”— actions that bring value to their friends. 2. Move from, “Right on! You’ve rated 100 posts”—value to themselves—to “You’re a rock star! 100 people find your ratings helpful”—value to community members. 3. Move from, “Wonderful! You’ve created 10 ideas”—value to the community—to “Congrats! 3 of your ideas submissions have been implemented”—value to the company. 4. Move from “10 of your posts have been used in knowledge base articles”—value to the company—to “1000 people have viewed your knowledge base contributions.”—value to the rest of the world. As customers come to realize the long term value they’ve created, their motivation for continued participation changes. Now, it’s the value itself that becomes the primary behavior driver. At this point you’ve created a positive feedback loop that reinforces the value customers create. the motivation mechanism strategy This strategy jumpstarts a variety of activities that players can freely explore in order to discover which one motivates them best. The platform collects all the data from that exploration and discovery and reinforces the behavior that is most intrinsically motivating to the players. A motivation mechanism enlistment strategy is trickier. Instead of teaching players the value they’ve generated through reinforcement, it shifts a player’s behavior from being extrinsically motivated toward more intrinsic motivations— and it’s not easy. A motivation mechanism uses community sustainable enlistment strategies
  11. 11. 9 share this whitepaper About Lithium Technologies: Lithium social software helps companies unlock the passion of their customers. Lithium powers amazing social customer experiences for more than 300 iconic brands including AT&T, BT, BestBuy, Indosat, Sephora, Skype and Telstra. The 100% SaaS-based Lithium Social Customer Experience™ platform enables brands to build and engage vibrant customer communities to drive sales, reduce service costs, accelerate innovation and grow brand advocacy. For more information, visit,or connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and our own community–the Lithosphere. Lithium is privately held with corporate headquarters in San Francisco and offices across Europe, Asia and Australia. The Lithium® logo is a registered Service Mark of Lithium Technologies. All trademarks and product names are the property of their respective owners. to figure out a player’s intrinsic motivation from a set of options—something quite a bit more complex. Whenever a player is performing a gamified activity, he leaves behind lots of digital footprints in the form of activity data. Think of this strategy as setting up a kind of Montessori classroom, where the students always have a choice of activities within a prescribed range of options. Only, in this classroom, we’re carefully monitoring every choice and coming up with a model of which activities motivate any given student best. Once we figure out a fan’s intrinsic motivation, we’re on our way to sustainability. sustainable enlistment—a must have for tech Yes, customer loyalty is important today. But the data shows it’s not something you can count on. Especially for tech and telcom companies where the pace of innovation is extremely high. The next new device, killer app, brand new technology or better customer experience offering can cause significant customer defection at any time. Customer loyalty today is only as good as your last offering. Enlisted customers are a far more powerful asset for your business. Because they co-create value with you, their loyalty is born of a different place all together—not just a sense of love for your products, but a sense of belonging to your brand. That enlisted customers also make your more effective, more scalable, and more personally relevant to potential new customers, is almost like icing on the cake. The cake is that they provide a sustainable engine for continued growth and competitive advantage. resources 1. McKinsey & Company, The Social Economy: Unlocking Value and Productivity Through Social Technologies 2. Mediabistro, The Rise of Social Commerce 3. Accenture, Lessons from the Recession: Where Customer Service and Support Investments Yeild Superior Returns for Media, Communications and Technology Companies