Community-based knowledge creation for customer service is not that new. However, enabled by the ubiquity and ease of use of the Web and the availability of social networking tools, it has gone to a whole new level, leading to the creation of the term "social knowledge." While more prevalent in B2C sectors, social knowledge is also starting to matter in B2B sectors. How can companies harvest the best of social knowledge for CRM customer service they offer through their own contact centers and service organizations? How should they engage with customers on social websites? The following five-step plan will help increase the odds of success in harvesting social knowledge for customer service.
1. ASSESS THE OPPORTUNITY
Companies need to first assess the opportunity for social knowledge harvesting in the context of the nature of their business (e.g. B2B, B2C etc.) and the customer queries they get (simple vs. complex).
Social knowledge creation has been more common in B2C sectors because it is easier to attain "critical mass" with more contributors and less specialized knowledge. This means a bigger harvesting opportunity in B2C than in B2B (see Figure 1).
[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]
Customer inquiries fall broadly into four categories--informational, transactional, diagnostic, and advice-oriented. On average, informational and transactional queries tend to be of low-to-moderate complexity while diagnostic and advice-seeking queries are of moderate-to-high complexity. Informational and transactional queries, therefore, are more likely to be resolved by social knowledge.
2. IDENTIFY HIGH-VALUE KNOWLEDGE
Social knowledge contributors have varying levels of reputation, prolificacy, and influence, which most social networking tools measure (number of posts, acceptance rate, number of connections, etc.). The Social Knowledge Value[TM] (SKV) of contributors can be estimated by using a combination of these metrics. Knowledge from high-SKV contributors is ideal for "deep dive" harvesting, while that from low-SKV contributors can be ignored or skimmed (see Figure 2).
[FIGURE 2 OMITTED]
3. ENGAGE CURRENT CUSTOMERS
Customers are key to the initiative--both as knowledge contributors and posters of queries on communities and social sites. Businesses need to make sure that queries posted on social sites are resolved in a timely manner, especially if they are from high lifetime financial value customers, whom you usually provide "platinum service" (e. …