How far would you go in support of customer communities?
I have a great job as Community Manager for a big finance firm (over 6,000 employees) here in Sydney, Australia. We’re a socially responsible business; we have a great culture that promotes creativity and innovation; we nurture our people to become effective leaders; and we believe in the power of a social and connected workplace. (Just check out the AMPlify Festival coming up this June to see the kinds of innovative programs we run to bring new ideas to our staff).
We have a world-class Intranet and collaboration tool where we constantly grow and nurture a highly engaged and active community of users and believers. We back our investment in technology by making sure we have an awesome social team to manage an awesome engagement program that leads to awesome outcomes. (If that doesn’t sound perfect enough, it’s very sunny most of the year; famous Bondi beach and a crystal blue recreational harbor are mere moments away; the culture and nightlife is excellent; and world-class restaurants leave you spoilt for choice.)
But I am about to leave it all behind. I’m moving to the other side of the world to work for NewsGator in a position that will allow me to continue to evangelize the power of social collaboration and engagement through community building and nurturing. Here’s what I’ve learned so far and what I hope to build on:
IT as a Strategic Partner
I think the reason my firm has been so successful with its technology implementations is more than just the hardware and the team. It’s actually the philosophy and values that back it. We have long ago thrown out the old subservient IT model where the business instructs the technologists to build them a machine and off they go and do it.
We stopped being a mere sales vehicle and decided to steer the ship toward the warmer, clearer waters of co-creation and collaboration (way before they became buzz words). A core strategic intent of our IT division is to provide thought leadership to our business and to keep it on the cusp of emergent technology and digital change.
In essence, we stopped acting as just a service provider and became a business in our own right. We treat our business users as customers and we invite them to be members of our intra-company community online.
Your Network Working For You
The consumerization of IT we’ve been talking about for a few years now has, without a doubt, set in and this isn’t going to change. The timing of our shift from delivery vehicle to business partner has meant that we’ve been able to shape the world in which our users live and deliver things that I believe to be the best intranet in the world (but we will leave that to Jakob Nielsen!).
Our engaged digital community has become a naturally formed network of evangelists that have allowed us to deliver some of the biggest and most complex change programs we’ve ever undertaken. Of course these things aren’t without their challenges, but the network of helpers is a leg in and if you haven’t got one yet, you need to move fast and go social now.
There is Nothing to Fear but Greatness
In an enterprise social community, there is always an overarching culture of help; people are polite and give directions, offer support, share stories and challenge each other to greatness. There is no anonymity and in my three years in this role, I have never had to delete or moderate a single post.
It’s incredibly empowering for employees to become authors at work, to be able to share their stuff with everyone else and have their voice heard. And once they overcome their initial trepidation of “oh, so everyone can see what I write here,” they’ll be dropping public lines to the CEO in no time.
Community = Success
Social business is the future of work and with the right care and attention, an online community of customers who care can be the most powerful asset a business owns. Communities of engaged, connected, highly savvy customers quickly become vocal voices for your product or cause and that translates into real benefits for everyone involved. It’s time for all companies to start to view their employees as customers of the service they provide to them -- work.
My new role embodies these principals and offers me a chance to make social real on a global scale. I’m excited to share what we achieved in Sydney with the USA and with the world at large.
Image courtesy of sdecoret (Shutterstock)
Editor's Note: Read more from this month's focus on Customer Communities.