Big Boulder: Engaging with Customers Online with Wendy Lea

Get Satisfaction’s CEO Wendy Lea on how brands are learning to provide social customer service, how Get Satisfaction’s platform is evolving, emerging businesses cases of Get Satisfaction and how Get Satisfaction views social data.

Wendy Lea of Get Satisfaction

The heart of the product at Get Satisfaction is to help companies connect with their customers online, wherever they are. “We talk about ourselves as a customer engagement platform that allows companies of all sizes and industries to build a community and have conversations,” Wendy says. It’s about the organic nature of consumers engaging with companies, also known as the outside-in model. In the beginning, individuals needed service and support and would find one another through Google searches about their issue. Suffice it to say that when customers are talking to one another about a product, they usually have quality idea. If the company gets out of the way, these ideas incubate and then amplify, creating huge potential.

47% of the activities inside a Get Satisfaction community are questions about the product itself, not specific problems about the product. This is both a sales and customer development opportunity and marketers need to be paying attention. The solutions to the use cases need to make sense to the businesses, i.e. not a horizontal come-one, come-all frenzy of suggestions from the market. Everyone is used to ratings and reviews technologies and Get Satisfaction is finding that companies have more success when they embed their customer and community interactions inside their purchase place. When a customer’s transacting in the flow of a purchase and they have a question, often not getting a response is what causes them to abandon their cart and not follow through with buying. Customers helping customers to expedite a transaction is a whole new market.

Rob Johnson of Gnip talks about the intrigue that led Wendy to get involved in the social conversation world. When Get Satisfaction was first pitched to Wendy, she recognized it as a simple model: true relationship building. Companies don’t always have the courage to be public about conversations. She knew the opportunity of the social CRM is what matters most. Get Satisfaction is sitting between the social web and systems of record but it’s a freemium, SaaS model and now has 3,000+ paying customers. Wendy describes the words “brands” and “engagement” as jargon. Get Satisfaction’s mascot is even named Jargon. “Being from the South, I like to talk straight,” she drawls. It’s not about run-on sentences that mislead or confuse the customer regarding solutions. It’s about productive interactions inside each conversation. When this happens, relationships are built around not only the product but also around the interest in the product.

Skills, process, and legal issues for each employee online all come into play. For example,at a big corporation, what details are even allowed to be public? Bringing value to the conversation happens when customers connect with companies on a human level. “Cut and paste crap does not work in a community,” Wendy says. Community managers have to hone their skills because jumping into the conversation too early can kill a good idea, too late can reflect poorly on the company, and it’s crucial to let the flow incubate somewhere between those two extremes.

Wendy also offered her insight on how to successfully scale community management. “As social media conversations grow and proliferate, and they will, that’s when community managers become facilitators. It’s not one to one and it’s not a call que so it’s also easier to scale. You’re basically gathering a party under a tent and you need that tent to be structured enough to expand.” Get Satisfaction likes to keep its communities open so as to not limit any potential conversations. Get Satisfaction also scales by pulling in all departments in to support the community managers in a cross-functioning capacity.

Big Boulder is the world’s first social data conference. Follow along at #BigBoulder, on the blog under Big BoulderBig Boulder on Storify and on Gnip’s Facebook page.