When Communities Converge (or Collide)


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For years, we’ve always advocated—nay, evangelized—that customers and employees/stakeholders should be on the same page, with access to the same information, so that everyone has a 360-degree view of what’s going on. Part of our advocacy was promoting the convergence of customer and employee communities. But, as Matthew Lees, our community and social media mastermind points out in his article, Will Employee Communities and Customer Communities Converge?, creating a comprehensive community to address customer issues and employee issues doesn’t really make sense.

Although employees have (or should have) the goal of providing a great experience and easy access to relevant information to customers, the information they need in a community is about stuff that customers, frankly, don’t care about—HR stuff like payroll, expense reimbursement, insurance issues, and the like. And, while specific employees—especially customer-facing employees—should know what’s going on in customer blogs, this is typically a small portion of the entire staff. Not everyone on your payroll needs to be involved in a customer support community, or an innovation community, or…whatever it is that customers want to “commune” about. Their jobs, while always in support of making customers happy, albeit often indirectly (good HR policies make employees happy; happy employees stick around longer and can provide better customer support, for example), are not intended to solve all customer problems. Most employees will not become more productive by knowing about a workaround for an absent feature in the product. Nor will customers become more loyal to your brand because you offer a dental plan.

The key to effective communities is to understand the goals of the community and decide who should participate. So, based on Matthew’s insights, we will get off the “everyone should know and participate in everything” soapbox and concede that instead of converging, disparate communities may just collide.

Will Employee
Communities and Customer Communities Converge?

Can a Single Social
Technology Support Both Internal and External Communities?
By Matthew D. Lees, Senior Contributing Editor, May 13, 2010

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Ronni Marshak
Patricia Seybold Group
Ronni Marshak co-developed Patricia Seybold Group's Customer Scenario® Mapping (CSM) methodology with Patricia Seybold and PSGroup's customers. She runs the CSM methodology practice, including training, certification, and licensing. She identifies, codifies, and updates the recurring patterns in customers' ideal scenarios, customers' moments of truth, and customer metrics that she discovers across hundreds of customer co-design sessions.


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