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Vala Afshar is Chief Customer Officer and CMO at Enterasys

If you are not a social business you are losing market share. If you are not a social business, you are also losing the opportunity to recruit and retain the very best talent in the market. In this social and mobile era, customers have choices and voices that are scaled and amplified like never before. For businesses to truly connect with their employees and customers they must be able to listen, respond, engage, and add value in a timely and robust manner. But, to truly connect we must do so by way of a personalized and mutually beneficial approach; and in order to do this well, we must embrace social collaboration.

There isn’t a Social Business for Dummies book, but there are some guidelines to get you on your way. Here are the four main tenants that you should consider and we have implemented at my company, Enterasys:

Culture: Culture is the collective personality of a business. In order to have a social business your company must establish a culture of transparency, accountability, innovation and reliability. It is also crucial to align the purpose of your social transformation (e.g. provider superior customer service, etc.) to the company culture. After all, being a social business can only be genuine if your employees believe and align with your purpose. These core traits can unlock the value that a social mindset can bring to any organization.

Defining a purpose of your social enterprise transformation is an important step in accelerating adoption that is closely aligned with your core cultural attributes. This is not just about technology; it’s about having a purpose.

For example, in 2010 we introduced enterprise social networking by implementing Salesforce.com Chatter throughout our business. We created Chatter accounts for every single employee and this instantly allowed collaboration from the top down. Our use of internal social networking tools such as Chatter creates the feel of a business that’s structurally flat and this is an important part of our company culture and purpose. Social collaboration has turned Enterasys into a place where the best ideas win, not just the ideas from people with the highest titles.

Team-CulturePeople: In a social business, the social employee is someone who not only has an online presence, whether it is through Twitter, blogging or other social media, but also fits the cultural mode of a social business – open-minded, customer-focused and fostering a collaborative mindset.  At a social business, there is either a formal or informal 360-degree review of employee performance based on the judgment, experience and influence of team members.  This could include a peer review process and also an in-person review with his or her boss. When you think of someone’s contribution to the company, all three elements (judgment, experience and influence) come into play. Of course some people have influence, but display poor judgment. Truly social employees display equal parts of all three criteria to make their company better.

Process: Process is about the alignment of core values and guiding principles. If you don’t measure your performance, you can’t be a successful social business. At Enterasys, we measure our performance both on a business level (i.e. financial results, etc.), as well as individual (i.e. peer review, etc.) and have an open culture where results are shared with all employees.

A few years ago we introduced gamification concepts within our services organization to build balanced performance scorecards. We categorized our service professionals as professional athletes – i.e. Hall of Famers, All-Stars, Starters, Bench and Minor Leaguers. Why professional athletes? Because the highest level of accountability is at the professional arena. Why? Because there is a scoreboard and everyone is aware of everyone else's performance and contribution towards the win, or loss. Contact center and engineering staff can access real-time benchmarking data and compare their performance against group average and group best results across all key performance indicators (KPIs), such as most case closed, first call closure, etc. This has resulted in an improved team spirit, where employees understand if and where they need to improve personally and, if they are excelling, they are expected to help others who are struggling. The Enterasys services call center, called the Global Technical Assistance Center (GTAC), has an attrition rate of less than 2 percent.  

Technology: In a social business, you need to build technology around process.  Start with a lean process, and then the technology decision will naturally follow. To further social collaboration at Enterasys we have implemented a cloud-based Salesforce.com CRM solution, utilizing a streamlined call center.  This solution increased access to our product experts in ways other call centers cannot dream of.  Being a “cloud first” company – where cloud-based applications are the first option when it comes to introducing new tools into the business – allowed us to increase our agility and responsiveness to customers.

A good example of this is in taking a customer’s temperature. A customer contact is profiled and using a specific set of parameters – hardware defective returns, software errors, customer satisfaction survey results, etc. – a customer's temperature can be forecast, ranging from cool to hot. Contact center professionals can see the “customer temperature gauge” embedded in the Salesforce solution. From there are developed and managed escalation workflows and automated service level agreement (SLA) conformance measures based on customer predictions. The most important benefit is being able to proactively contact customers when predictions point to warm-to-hot temperatures in order to prevent dissatisfaction. As a result of these improvements, Enterasys’ Net Promoter (NPS) score is 8.1 (out of 10) – a measure of customer loyalty that is industry best.

By integrating these four tenants, you will find that your business will grow, employees will be happier and more productive, and your customers will be delighted. At Enterasys we have achieved the following with this strategy:

  • Grown year-over-year revenue for three straight years
  • Added thousands of new customers
  • Grown company headcount by 25%
  • Service optimizations – achieved industry leading customer satisfaction (95%!) and loyalty
  • IT optimizations – 75% fewer broadcast emails
  • Introduced social innovation to the market (i.e. isaac) integrated with Salesforce Chatter that changes the way IT operates

To learn more about this topic, check out the recently published book The Pursuit of Social Business Excellence, which I coauthored with my colleague Brad Martin