Learning to Share

By David Strom Print this article Print

Wikis, hosted CRM tools, and Web-based discussion forums and messaging products enable better cross-pollination of ideas and boost sales with improved customer support.

Learning to Share

The third step is to focus on the particular knowledge you’re trying to capture and share across the enterprise. Whether this is to share a common collection of contacts or customers and best client practices, or to energize customer feedback or facilitate group decision-making, it’s important to understand how this knowledge is created and how it will be shared internally among your team and externally with your customers. Then you need to find the best tools for your requirements.

Jeremy Turgeon, IT manager for the Bel Air, Calif.-based Presbyterian Church, has been using the group discussion tool Yammer.com for the past six months to handle communications issues within various church departments. “It has helped us avoid duplication of work and get key stakeholders aware of what’s going on,” he says. “The downside is that you must have a large percentage of people in an organization using it to be relevant or to use the information to move on any decisions.”

Greg Pemberton, who’s in a university IT support role, is experimenting with Yammer. “It breaks down barriers that naturally build up between business groups over time and helps distant colleagues get to know each other quicker,” he says. “Yammer also fosters brainstorming among personnel with diverse skills and experience.

“This is a communications tool that expands your networking base to crowd-source your solutions. Most of our users have never used Twitter, so it is a new experience for them.”

For the past year, Intuit has been using a collaboration technology from UserVoice.com to get its customers to suggest new features for its QuickBooks software. Using a Digg-like system, customers can vote on which ideas and features are most important to them. Intuit can directly respond to customers about their suggestions and can engage them in the development process.

“What jumped out at me was its ease of use,” says Scott Wilder, general manager of communities at Intuit. “Every person in my position has budget constraints, and everyone wants me to create every feature possible. We work with our users and let them vote on what our focus should be with our development dollars. This gives them more input than just being a beta tester and makes it a better experience for our customers.”

This article was originally published on 2009-08-03
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