Social Media as a Process Improvement Tool?

While Facebook can be fun and Twitter seems to have captured the interest of the masses who are all tweeting in 140-character mini-blogs about everything from what they had for breakfast to the emerging news event they just saw outside their window, many still point to these tools as more of a diversion than a legitimate business tool.

Until recently.

A recent article I read about Intuit, indicated that the company has found social media to have a legitimate and profound impact on how users of their software – specifically QuickBooks – seek support. Their experience suggests opportunities for companies ranging from technology to health care to government to education – and everything in between.

The basic premise could be defined as “two heads are better than one” – and thousands of heads are exponentially better! Instead of customers calling the official help desk at Intuit, the company has found that more and more are solving each others’ problems and responding to each others’ questions via the online social media tools they provide.

This offers some significant possibilities in terms of process and staffing efficiencies. The truth of the matter is, the Internet has significantly challenged the traditional “owned-expertise” model of  most businesses, including health care. As the source for a recent article I was writing pointed out, consumers have taken control of their own health care with what might be called “health care advocates” often more knowledgeable about the latest medical advances in certain specialty areas than their doctors are.

Think about it – if you’re Intuit, for instance, where can users of QuickBooks turn to get the best, most readily accessible information about the product when they run into a “glitch”? To your help desk? Sure. Or, to your users’ forum where *thousands* of individuals can share their collective wisdom to come up with a solution?

The possibilities are virtually endless and not just from the standpoint that social media is “cool,” but from the standpoint that companies that seek to harness the potential of social media to address business challenges and improve business processes are not only “joining the conversation” but also improving productivity, reducing expenses and improving customer service.

Seems like a win-win-win – and a way to convince many still-to-be-convinced senior executives that social media is not only here to stay, but a tool that can be embraced for more bottom-line driven purposes than simply: “Hey! Here’s what I’m doing right now.”

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2 Responses to “Social Media as a Process Improvement Tool?”

  1. executive leadership development…

    I like the way you see things. 🙂 Feel free to use any content from my blog/website, I\’ll definitely keep yours on my favorite list….

  2. Kyle Nelson says:

    Right on target! I’ve run into many sales teams which are utilizing tools like Twitter to get real-time information to prepare them for sales calls. One well-known Fortune 1000 company’s sales teams require it. An example: a high-level sales professional was sent at the last moment to visit an account in St. Paul. Right before he arrived, he found out that the account had a network for which he was unfamiliar. So, he tweeted his team of 50 professionals (techs, support, AE’s, etc.). Shortly after, he received 14 tweets informing him of how his solution could work with such a network and ideas for selling the account on their solution. Without Twitter, would he have known who he should call in his 50 person team? Would he had received the wealth of information that helped him close the sell? Probably not.

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