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How salesforce.com Makes Sense of Customer Input

Posted by Bill Lee on October 15, 2008 at 12:10 PM

Blogging from the 2008 Communities Exchange Summit. We've had incredible  presentations from major B2B customer community programs: Intel (Josh  Hilliker, Rhett LIvengood), Intuit (Scott Wilder), Oracle (Jake Kuramoto). Bill Johnston at ForumOne Networks gave results  from their most recent research . . .


Salesforce.com's Kingsley Joseph - who created SFC's highly respected IdeaExchange platform for  making sense  of customer  input (used by Dell, Starbucks) -- just got done. What are you  doing with your customers' input? How do you make sense of it? How do you prioritize it? How do you make sure it gets, you know, implemented by your company?

Here's my take on Kingsley's answers, plus some tips to keep in mind:

IdeaExchange was inspired in part by Digg, combined with a prioritization platform (which  SFC acquired).


The way employees participate in a customer community is the single most critical  factor in the success of a community.


Moderation: the point is not just to weed out spam, but to encourage and reward participation  from members.


Handling "inconvenient" ideas from the community

- Reconsider - is it really a bad idea of lots of  people want it.

- Often adds useful  ammo for internal  debates

- Is it an opportunity for partner  solution?

- If it just can't be done, state why, if possible


Competitor activity on your site: let the community deal  with it. (they'll typically either ignore it, or dispute it for you). Be reluctant to take postings down.


Analytics for  Product Managers: These are the things that Kingsley's team  reports to PMs. How many of  these can you report?

# of Ideas – by product line, each release cycle

Top 20 Most Popular

% of All Ideas Delivered

% of Top 20 in last quarter that were delivered

# of undelivered All-Time Top 20 ideas

$ of Opportunities Lost due to Undelivered Ideas

Ideas From High-Potential Customers

Ideas From At-Risk Customers


Then, of course,  report back  to the community on progress in implementing product ideas.


CRM (Sales, Suppport and Marketing) - an often overlooked component of community programs. The community can do great things for you, but only if it's tied back  into CRM. Community information can provide context and nuance to otherwise static CRM info.

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