It is so refreshing being around people who just “get” social! No need to explain the value of social — instead one can just dwell in various nerd conversations. On May 19th I had the pleasure of just this, as I presented at the Sprinklr’s Customer eXperience Management Summit in London. Great to talk with all the various social media/social business experts who attended, and big thanks to Sprinklr and Hannah Craik at ASOS for arranging this.
As I’ve done previously, my presentation was actually a new blog post, which I have posted here. A bit long perhaps, (12 minute read) but it should give insights to how I/we see social business as part of an ecosystem: the why, the how, and the what. Have a good read and please add your own thoughts, comments, and questions. I’d be happy to learn more as well as share my thoughts and ideas!
The social web is full of shit. Pardon my language. However, it is a fact and the more we listen and develop our social intelligence capabilities, the more we learn to understand that the value of social is not in the quantities but in the quality. Not rocket science, I know, but stay with me. Let us get back to this point later, and first take a step back.
I have called this blog post “Building the Social Business Ecosystem through pioneering, pilots, and exploratory target groups” since it was my topic to speak about at the resent Sprinklr Customer eXperience Management Summit in London. I will try outlining why and how people, processes, and tools need to be connected in an ecosystem, to actually make sense.
Since the notion of an ecosystem is so comprehensive – in a perfect world it will contain everything – then I will limit my effort, focusing on just one of Grundfos’ audiences, namely the installers – to you probably better known as plumbers.
Let us dive in. One of the challenges, as well as opportunities, for social in Grundfos is that we do not really know or touch our customers. This is not typical for Grundfos alone, but perhaps a more common situation for B2B’s. A great quote I recently saw describes it well:
“We all hear that the B2B customer is ‘different’ from B2C. But what does that mean? For starters, the person who want’s your product may not be the same as the person buying the product, who may also be different than the person using the product.” (Phil Robins, Block & Company)
Let us take this in a Grundfos product context, with a regular heat pump that most of us have in or houses. The end-user is a house owner. In the best case, the end-user knows where the pump is located in the house. However, they do not really care for what brand it is. And even if energy saving pumps is catching on, it is still the plumber who usually makes the decision what pump to install. We seldom speak directly with the plumber as well. At times, we touch them through trade-shows, at events, and perhaps for training. The plumber buys their products from suppliers. Moreover, this is typically, where they get service and support. At times, through interviews and shadowing them on their job, Product Development of course does user studies, gather insights on purchase and usage behavior, etc.
We therefore see social as an opportunity to better get to know the end-users and the installers of our products. Customer Insights through social listening is not the Holy Grail. One thing we experience from internal stakeholders is that expectations to what can be found and how fast, are high. Way too high. This is mainly a maturity and competence issue – a sign that too much of this type of intelligence has been outsourced outside of the organization. I am of course generalizing a bit now, but management tend to learn and see the value of social through the lens of the end conclusions in a colorful PowerPoint presentation. But in reality they don’t have a team who can leverage the real value. They do not know the underlying data, nor do they understand the drivers and methods of how social works. Frankly said, the organization has an immature perception of social quality as a result per se. In practice, this means for instance focus on “Likes” and followers, instead of on real engagement and insights on a personal level.
A last challenge I want to bring up – again – is that the social web is really full of shit. Spammers hijack our #tweetchats; Black Hat SEO kidnap our brand names; The devaluation of our corporate channels by Fakers; And marketing gibberish takes up a large part of domain or industry topics. Sure, the platform and networks fight back – but the fakers seems to always find a way around.
This layer of social no-value nonsense makes it even harder to navigate towards the real value of social. In additional to several other macro and micro challenges, like language barriers, the key challenges can be summarized as:
- We don’t know our target group well
- Expectations are high, whilst maturity and organizational competence is low
- Quality of conversations and profiles are low
So how are we to handle these challenges, and instead turn them in to opportunities? Well, it is a never ending journey of course, and we will use a good old metaphor of “Ecosystems”. Wikipedia describes it as:
“An ecosystem is a community of living organisms (plants, animals and microbes) in conjunction with the nonliving component of their environment (things like air, water and mineral soil), interacting as a system.” (Wikipedia)
As I see it, we must create a Social Business Ecosystem, connecting people, processes, and tools. But we should not only consider online, we also need to bring offline in to the ecosystem. And the internal perspective is as important as the external. As ecosystems in the real world, it is constantly evolving. Therefore it needs to be agile, fast adopting, and constantly on the move. Our ecosystem should be built up around a core belief of exploration and real relationship building.
Again, mentioning all the various components of an ecosystem will be impossible. But a few of them that we are currently are working with are:
- Profiling – Constantly feed the ecosystem with “Validated Installers” profiles. This is currently done manually, by going through posts related to “plumbers” and then checking if the profile is real and valid. But also Grundfos employee networks should be added to this, like sellers contacts, or asking plumbers for their details when contacting the support or participates in training.However we do it, the key is that this must be an All-In and All-Hands activity in the future, since the more profiles we add, the better insights we gain.
- Listening Insights – We have in place key listening topics and queries for general listening. The simple examples could be for brand and competitive monitoring. More advanced could be industry topics like Water Treatment. We can then overlay the profile lists to ensure only results from validated profiles. So for instance, when asked what installers in UK or Germany are currently talking about, and where, then this can be produced on the fly.
- Messages – Collect and tag interesting messages and posts for sharing to relevant internal stakeholders, teams, or communities. Examples could be customer quotes or plumbers comparing our products with competition.
Many flavors and ingredients can be mentioned here, however, by experience then the key to success lies more in the behavior and culture of the organization – than it does in the technology or processes. Take external community building and management as an example. If the organization does not have an internal culture to foster communities, and people are lacking the competences – well, then it will not fly in the long run. And if employees are not encouraged to share externally, then internal sharing is doomed.
In Grundfos we work quite actively on this – especially in the small team that I’m part of. Global Working Culture looks at how Grundfos can capture the value of social business, collaboration, and networked organizations. We typically do this through use-cases, identifying what special mechanisms are in place in terms of employee behavior and leadership skills, coupled with relevant social technology.
A result of this work is our “Social Business Cooking at Grundfos” book. Here we describe the key value drivers and areas; exemplified with dissected real Grundfos use-cases; and spiced up with the key ingredients and fundamental components that must live in Grundfos. A few of these ingredients are:
- A global enterprise collaboration network must be in place, connecting all employees across organizations, job roles, seniority, and countries
- Digital Literacy as a key part of personal development
- Community Literacy as a Leadership Competence
- Working Out Loud, which means dare sharing your work even if it is not complete
- And social empowerment, igniting and engaging employees to share their stories and perspectives
When all this come in play, we actually have a fair chance of turning the previous challenges into valuable insights and behaviors:
- We will constantly know and build our target group, exploring them and building lasting relationships
- Expectations of what can be achieved and how will be a natural part of each employees social business maturity
- And we will turn the focus on real people and relationship building, where quality and engagement is the one and only goal and KPI
What could this then look like? We are far from there, and “there” really is a question of the purpose. But a guiding vision of what we hope it could look like could be this:
A seller visiting a supplier understands from a conversation with a couple of visiting plumbers that one of our products are causing extra work for them when installed. The problem is related to a new energy standard and how the Grundfos pump should be configured for this. The seller collects the contact details and any social profiles and promises to bring the feedback on. Back in the office she – our seller – takes the time to add this feedback to the product community. She also shares her story in the Voice of the Customer community. This community is a great place for all of us employees who are not customer facing, to actually get a feel for market realities.
The issue with the product is also quickly confirmed by an in-house service technician, who recently has been in contact with both a supplier and some plumbers on the same topic. Our service technician lists a couple of good resources that explains how to make this specific configuration – something he has actually compiled himself.
One of the assigned Voice of the Customer Community Managers “pings” in two experts to the conversation. One being product manager, who directly adds this topic to the next team meeting. And the other person is from marketing. Since our service technician has already created some good material, it takes little effort to make it into a self-help guide by an Expert. Within a week this is distributed to all suppliers, and perhaps more importantly, shared in the Grundfos Installers group.
As for the product manager, prior to the team meeting he also collects the latest end-user and installer comments from discussion forums. The insights confirms there is a problem. But not only for Grundfos – it seems our competitors have similar communications problems.
And product development reaches out to some valuable plumbers in the Grundfos Installers group, to get help making the right adjustments. With some quick updates to the configuration software, plus the already available and much trustworthy expert guide, then this has the chance to become an opportunity instead of problem.
The product manager feeds back the development into the Voice of the Customer community, publically praising and thanking the involved parties for the effort and help. And everyone lives happy ever after! And on it goes….
Now I have talked to long. I’ve tried giving you a glimpse of how we see Social Business Ecosystems in Grundfos. There is a huge risk that I have totally confused you – I’m a bit confused my self! Which is why I think it is time to open up for questions and discussion.
Thanks for hanging in there!