OK, I could have titled this post “Social CRM is Dead.” But that wouldn’t be right, because I already said that two years ago.
I’ve been following developments at Get Satisfaction for the past couple of years, ever since Wendy Lea — a friend from my days as a PRM consultant — became CEO. The company essentially followed the Salesforce.com model, providing a SaaS solution for online communities.
The company’s initial focus was on customer service — what I’ve dubbed “CrowdService” — to enable customers to help themselves. This is not a new application, of course. Forums have been around for a long time, but got a boost during the Social CRM mania of the 2008-2011 timeframe.
About 18 months ago I wrote about Kiddicare’s use of Get Satisfaction, which enabled the retailer to cut inbound emails and increase FCR. That’s just one example of the 60K+ customers (a larger one, anyway) Get Satisfaction had acquired by that time.
Surfing the CX Wave
In the past couple of years the spotlight has shifted from Social Media to Customer Experience (CX), and vendors are following that trend. Get Satisfaction, which had previously embraced Social CRM messaging, now declares itself a “community platform for creating engaging customer experiences” in its most recent press release announcing platform updates.
So my first question for Lea was simply whether this was just a marketing makeover to capitalize on CX interest. In short, the answer is “no.” As I learned about the firm’s shift in strategy and updated design, Lea and product VP Scott Hirsch are making significant changes that demonstrate a deeper understanding of what CX is really about.
- An online community, even one designed for customer service/support, is highly valuable in a buying process. Much more so that Facebook or Twitter. An online search is likely to land on a brand’s online community, where a prospect can read discussions, reviews, etc.
Source: Get Satisfaction
Get Satisfaction says 35% of their page views come from search engines. The redesign helps marketers capitalize on this traffic and display relevant content to buyers on their journey. Hirsch says you could think of the community as a kind of lightweight landing page, such as offered by Marketo, a marketing automation vendor.
- An online community is just part of a larger CX ecosystem. I’m sure some big vendor will claim to offer a “complete” CX suite before long, but in my view such a thing will never exist. Think about all the different digital, human and other (e.g. store) touchpoints. The job of a CX designer is ensure that people and systems work together to deliver a useful if not delightful experience.
With that in mind, Get Satisfaction has updated its platform. Previously developed as a monolithic solution for customer service, the “V2” application is more modular, all to make it easier to integrate an online community into the large CX journey that would include (or require data from) CRM systems, analytics and more.
- A great community experience takes more than software. Yes, good tools help, and everyone likes software at a low price. But Lea says that they’ve learned that their clients had greater success when they invested in more professional services (read: expensive help) from Get Satisfaction.
Adding that support has an impact on price and the size of companies that Get Satisfaction can realistically serve. Many of the 60K+ early customers were small and self-serve. Some started with free trials, others paid $19/month — pricing that isn’t consistent with providing the services needed for success. So now pricing starts at $425/month.
In addition to the changes noted, Get Satisfaction is also improving the user experience for moderators and other business users; making apps mobile friendly; and supporting private communities. Platform and app enhancements will roll out over the next few months.
Challenges and opportunities
This is a bold move for Get Satisfaction. On the one hand, I’m disappointed to see the company de-emphasize small business. I’ve seen this pattern repeated often in the SaaS market, with companies like Salesforce.com, RightNow, NetSuite and many more. Enter the market with a simple solution designed for small business then enhance and move up market. It makes sense to investors, who like the “security” of the large enterprise market.
Now, Lea is quick to say they are not abandoning the small business market and that existing customers will be treated thoughtfully. My take is that their new strategy and pricing will discourage small business, but will compete nicely in medium- to large enterprises going forward.
The move up-market and into marketing applications will also bring Get Satisfaction into more direct competition with large, well-funded community providers like Jive, Lithium and Telligent. And these firms have a lot more experience in the large enterprise space. In addition to the platform and apps upgrades, Get Satisfaction will need to retool marketing and sales for bigger prospects.
Social CX, anyone?
When the Social CRM hype was raging, I pointed out that you could just as easily say that social media was part of the customer experience. In the past year, I’m hearing a lot more about digital and social experiences, and expect that trend to strengthen in the coming months.
Bottom line: CX is a bigger business goal and a better “hook” for software vendors than social media.
Adobe is increasingly talking about the social experience as part of the complete journey. Web Content Management vendors like SDL are developing solutions for Digital Experience Management, including social analytics. And now Get Satisfaction is tackling the same opportunity from the vantage point of an online community.
It will be interesting to see how this all plays out over the next couple of years. For now I’ll just say that Get Satisfaction is making an aggressive move that capitalizes on the CX wave with a sound strategy. Execution, along with more funding from investors, will be key to success.
- Reality check: Branded online communities outperform Facebook in consumer buying decisions
- SDL pushes for leadership in emerging market for Digital Customer Experience Management solutions
- Does CEM Need a Technology Platform?
- “Social CRM” is Dead, Long Live the Social Customer Experience
Disclosure: This post is part of my independent coverage of industry trends and is not meant as an endorsement of Get Satisfaction or any other company mentioned. Get Satisfaction has not been a CustomerThink sponsor within the past year.