Market research helps companies go global

Web Surveys recently reported that 62% of companies who were international remained optimistic about the current state of the economy. When thinking about going international, it’s very important that companies do their market research. Not only are the countries possibly speaking different languages, but they also have dramatically different cultures. Conducting market research is a must for any company thinking of going global. Read the complete article here.

Social media diary 27/2/2009 – UK National Museums

Nine museums in the UK launch Creative Spaces

This week in the UK saw the beta launch of Creative Spaces. An online community and federated search project across nine National Museums, part of the National Museums Online Learning Project (NMOLP) and involving the Tate, V&A, British Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Natural History Museum, Imperial War Museum, Royal Armouries, Wallace Collection and Sir John Soanes’ Museum. The core idea is to provide a way for people to find, discuss and be inspired by the collections of all these museums.

The project really has two components:

  1. A federated search, allowing users to search and explore the collections across all nine museums in one place, online.
  2. An online community, allowing people to create notebooks (their own collections combining objects from the museums with their own content), create and join groups and review and add comments to objects that they like (or otherwise, of course).

It’s been an ambitious project, running for a number of years and the outcomes are exciting. The ability to search across and explore the collections is of huge value. But the social elements of the site allow individuals to essentially curate their own experience. Bringing objects from the different museums together with their own content, annotating them and making their own notebook – an exhibition for others to view and comment on.

So what can we learn from this?

This is a great example of using social media and online communities in a museums context. But it is also a great example of When thinking about how to use social media and online communities, it is important for brands and organisations to explore what it is they can uniquely offer. What do they have that they can share with people, and why would people come to a site that they were running to interact. With Creative Spaces, I think these nine museums have got it right. They have not just launched an online community, asking people to talk about art – there are many places you can do that. What these organisations can offer that is different is access to their catalogues, and by coming together to make Creative Spaces they are offering something even more unique – the ability to search the collective catalogues of some of the leading museums in the UK. They have something unique and of value that they can offer to people with this search, and also with the online community they have built to support this. One problem with some online communities is that they focus too much on forums and verbal communication. Other media can sometimes be a more effective way of communicating: video can be a great way to engage some people, others want to express themselves with images or objects. In a museums context this becomes even more important. I may not want to discuss my reaction to an object, but I might want to upload an image of my own as a reaction to it. Creative Spaces lets you do this, and indeed let’s you curate your own collection (they call it a notebook) with objects from the collections alongside your own content or content you’ve got from elsewhere. This is clever, allowing people to react and respond in whatever medium is most appropriate to them. Creative Spaces is a great idea, it brings social media to a museums context and creates a social experience online that centres on the unique content these museums have – their own collections. It’s easy to set up a site and expect people to come and engage there, but this rarely happens. You need to build a site that meets a need and offers something new, leveraging your own position to give a real reason for people to come and engage on your site rather than elsewhere. If you decide to join up, feel free to add me as a contact: Matt Rhodes. (In interest of open disclosure, I should say that FreshNetworks has done some strategy work with the NMOLP to help them launch and grow Creative Spaces. But it would always have been a great example of social media!)From the FreshNetworks Blog
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Sitel: The Call Center People

In the Star Gazette of the Buffalo, New York area, they share that Sitel is hiring more customer service representatives to man customer service calls. This company provides the customer service call centers for many of the Fortune 500 companies, and fields an average of about 99% incoming calls. Each employee answers 25-30 calls a day.

Sitel site director Jeffrey Mortlock said
“It’s a hard job. Ninety-five percent of the people calling in have a problem or they are upset about something. We have to teach employees how to solve people’s problems, and that’s what our goal is.”

For more, read the article here.

More Interactivity is now available on YouTube

I came across this post from Adam Ostrow on Mashable in which he highlights some new social features that YouTube has recently added. If you haven’t noticed yet when you login to YouTube you can now view activities like commenting, favoriting, and information on uploading videos from your friends. It’s taken a while for YouTube to get on board with this, but glad they have!

New way to measure online communities

Are you having trouble tracking the progress of your online communities? Lithium Technologies announced the software Lithium Insight, a new technology which will help businesses measure and benchmark the health of their online communities. The software comes with two key features: Lithium’s Community Health Index and The Lifestyle Benchmark Service. For more on the product, read the article here.

Customer service and customer experience

Recently at Retail Customer Experience Magazine, the address the issue of customer experience versus customer service, and how the two should not be confused. Bruce Temkin, a Forrester blogger, said, “For most companies, customer service deals with some key ‘moments of truth’ for customers,” he writes. “So that function is an important participant in most efforts to improve customer experience. But firms can’t just focus on customer service interactions or offload responsibility for customer experience to the customer service organization.” They also provided the diagram to the right.

How do you keep the two separated for your customers?

5 Recession-Busting Customer Service Strategies

Christopher Musico of, reports that the one thing that happens in a downturn is that everyone is focused on keeping customers,” explains Natalie Petouhoff, senior analyst at Forrester and co-author of the report “The Economic Necessity of Customer Service.” “Don’t you spend on advertising? Of course you do, and it costs money — but it has value if it’s done well. The same goes for investment in customer service.”Petouhoff’s 5 Recession Busters: make self-service work across all channels;
be proactive about chat;
invest in online social-networking communities;
explore unified communications (UC); and
empower sales agents with co-browsing tools. What do you think? Could you add a few more to the list?