John Moore spends a lot of time studying how companies implement ‘social CRM’. Currently CTO of consulting firm Swimfish, and an avid blogger (johnfmoore.wordpress.com), John has spent a lot of years as a senior engineer for SaaS apps. Last week John spoke at ParaFest and shared some of his observations about how some ‘name brand’ companies are approaching social support communities. Take HP. With 2.5 million customers visiting the site every month and 150,000 registered users in the community, John says Hewlett Packard realized early on they needed to treat social support communities in a truly strategic fashion. They made a solid business case as to how the community would work, the ROI expected, and got very detailed with their plan to bring people into the community. They defined internal experts and trained them on how to interact within the community, even bringing in Microsoft experts as well. Essentially, they use the community to “co-create value”, encouraging a steady stream of feedback from customers – feature requests, bugs noted, you name it. The head of the support community reviews feature requests weekly, feeding them directly into the product development pipeline. From there, they’re tied closely to the formal product development process. According to John, they key is that HP makes it very visible how ideas are being considered, so customers know they are truly helping to ‘co-create’ the products HP releases. And for the company, HP sees big payoffs in several ways. People come back to the community regularly, with a steady increase in registered users, an increase in ideas generated, and an overall reduction in customer support calls. A big caveat John points out: don’t expect to see a reduction in your support team size in rolling out this approach. In fact, you may even see an upfront increase in cost. But the extra spend will reduce costs and increase customer satisfaction in the long run, well worth the investment. John had several other really interesting case studies and great tips on deploying social support communities we’ll cover in future posts.