Monday, 30 March 2009

The Commonwealth Bank wins the Twitter PR game

It's funny that I keep posting about Twitter, as I actually think it's hopelessly over-hyped. But I couldn't resist this story about an unhappy customer's tweet and CBA's rapid response:

"A TWO-line Twitter post pushed my mortgage application from the Commonwealth Bank's "to do" list to an urgent priority.

The post said simply: "CBA f#$&ked up our loan approval so we're still waiting to exchange contracts". One hour and 17 minutes after it went live I was contacted by someone offering help to solve my problem. That person was the head of Commonwealth Bank's customer service team.

He told me the message made him "feel like crap" and the bank was only just beginning to understand how crucial social media sites were in maintaining the corporate giant's image. By 3pm the next day, my loan was formally approved."

One person who responded couldn't understand how complaints on social media carry more weight than a complaint by phone. The reason is simple. A phone complaint is witnessed only by the customer and the corporation - and perhaps a few friends of the customer. But a complaint on twitter, or a blog, or any form of social media might be read by hundreds of people, if not more. As will their favourable review if the corporation moves to fix the problem rapidly. And THAT (to be cynical) is why the CBA moved so quickly on this incident.

When corporations respond rapidly and sincerely to bad PR on social media the effect is incredible. Suddenly bad PR is converted to "wow, look how responsive and switched on this organisation is". Of course, this effect may only last as long as social media is "cool" and "new". It may not be such an unusual thing in a year or two.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

New Think for Old Publishing: Tweeting audience 1, publishers 0

There has been a great kerfuffle about the "New Think for Old Publishers" panel held at the South By Southwest Interactive Conference in Austin, Texis. This conference sounds fantastic, revolving around new and interactive media (I'm downloading me some podcasts from it as we speak). The panel in question was promoted as traditional publishers sharing new ideas for interactivity. But it turned into a tedious half hour of introductions followed by "now YOU tell us your new ideas for our industry".

Little did they realise that they had completely lost the audience....and that all the action in the room was happening on Twitter. I love how Michael Tobis put it:

"...almost everybody in the audience was on a pre-announced twitter channel #sxswbp. And by the time anybody in the crowd got to ask anything, most of the crowd was in a very collective and connected foul mood."

I love that twitter (and subsequent blog posts) were able to give this audience a voice (and believe me, they had plenty to say - just check out the pages and pages of chatter on the twitter stream #sxswbp). After all, many of them are bloggers and essentially moved on to the new publishing model that traditional publishers are still wrapping their heads around. I highly recommend reading some of the posts from audience members, including "New Think? Not so much" by Kassia Kroszer and "Really New Think for Old Publishers" by William F. Aicher. I'll leave you with a quote from his blog as food for thought.

The ultimate “New Think” for the publishing industry that I’ve been pushing both in book publishing, as well as in the music publishing industry is to change the mindset that publishers are in charge and the customers should trust them. Instead, publishers need to stop trying to be tastemakers and instead realize that they are ultimately administrators of extraordinarily valuable copyright-protected content that they can build a brand around. Find content or creators that already have a following (and sometimes take risks on ones that have a potential to be big), cultivate those creators and their content with your professional editing staff and then get the content out to people.

William F. Aicher, "Really New Think for Old Publishers"

Powerful stuff!

Thanks to Heidi Allen for the heads up on this topic...she is quite rightly furious that publishers emerged from this looking like they have nothing to offer in the world of new media. And we we do have new ideas and innovative plans to interact with this world...check out what Henri van Engelen has to say on Wolters Kluwer and Next Generation publishing. However, I think this event (along with other situations) clearly indicates that publishers do need to be more savvy about how they engage with the new media community.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Electronic Document Managment is all I thought about this week

I'm a little late posting this week, and I'm going to shamelessly play the pity card. I injured my lower back which makes it uncomfortable to sit/stand/lie down/do anything!

That said, I actually had quite a busy week at work, and it was all about Electronic Document Management (EDM). First of all, a large chunk of my time was spent uploading and indexing a collection of resources into a Sharepoint document library. There is something incredibly satisfying in being able to populate 8 different fields with info on the one document, instead of trying to cram everything into a single file name on your share drive.

So I'm creating all this beautiful metadata, but the Sharepoint basic search is pretty much ignoring it when it comes to returning and ranking search results. (Makes me want to tear my hair out!) We are now investigating appropriate search plugins to rectify this situation. Does anybody know of a good Google-style search plugin that works with both document full text and assigned metadata? Much obliged!

I also had a wonderful "lightbulb" moment this week. We have commenced work on the next whitepaper, which is going to be all about accountants and the paperless office. Now this was troubling me for two reasons:
1) I don't know all that much about accountants despite them being the majority of our customers (!)
2) The term Paperless Office sends me straight back to the '90s and seems incredibly passe.

Then the whitepaper team sat in on a presentation regarding CCH Prosystems fx, our document management and workflow software for small to medium accounting firms. And I realised that it doesn't matter what your profession is, being "paperless" in the 2000s means Electronic Document Management. And of course EDM is a big component of Knowledge Management AND modern libraries. Which I know all about (or at least something about). Huzzah! Suddenly this whitepaper is no longer the Great Unknown.

So now we are wondering what consitutes the "paperless" ideal for most enterprises these days? We're inclined to think that just like "full employment" is classed as 95%, perhaps "paperless" actually means, I dunno, 80% of tasks are achieved without paper. Over the next week I'll be looking around for any benchmarking studies on this issue. If you know of any or have some thoughts on the topic, please let me know!