The long awaited results from our 2011 End of Year survey on Rational Client Support's Social Business efforts are in. You may recall back in December that we ran the survey over the course of the month, ending Dec 31st . Well, we've run it all through our trusty Megatronhydromatic-5000, twisted knobs, pushed buttons, and switched toggles to get some results (don't ask if we used Watson, they won't even let Jason in the same state... something to do with protecting the system from data "corruption", whatever that means ...), which is really all to say: we've finally collated all the responses we received and done the analysis on the data. In the spirit of social transparency, authenticity, honesty, and knowledge sharing, we are sharing out our results below...
But first, a quick reminder of the mission, scope, and intent: IBM Rational support's Social Business mission is to improve visibility of support content, helping to solve problems and get the right answers at the right time to the people who need them, to set ourselves as thought leaders, and to improve satisfaction with all aspects of Rational software. The survey's intent was to elicit feedback from you, our direct audience base, to identify who you are and whether or not you are seeing value from our efforts. The scope of the survey was specific to only our followers/fans (direct audience) who consume our content and may interact with us. While open to all, the survey was not intended for a general audience as it is specific to our efforts in the social business space with questions only our fans and followers would be equipped to answer.
So, with the scope and intent in mind, here's our analysis of responses to each of the six questions we posed:
- Question 1: Which of the following best identifies you?
55.6% of respondents indicated they were IBMers, while 32.5% noted they were clients. The high 55.6% indicates that we have a large internal following, though it can possibly indicate that IBMers are simply more likely to leave feedback when requested. In terms of social business success, this spread of clients to IBMers shows us value as it indicates a large network of connected IBM SMEs, providing the structure to leverage skills to assist clients ad hoc.
- Question 2: Why do you follow Rational Support on any of our channels? (multiple choices were selectable)
Predominantly, 68.5% of respondents follow us to stay up to date with support in a general sense, indicating that a wide scope of support related content is appropriate for this audience. Second to general content, 61.1% noted they follow for self assist material. Taken in conjunction with the desire for general content as well, this indicates that a good balance of technical and non-technical content is both desired and appropriate. With 33.3% noting they follow to feel a connection to support, this shows that retaining individual voice and personality is appropriate and appreciated.
- Question 3: Please rate each of our channels.
Not surprisingly the top rated channel is our NFRS blog, with 61.1% indicating it was “Very useful” or better. Facebook and Twitter both show a gap between “not following” and “somewhat useful” which indicates those who follow find some value. While there is nothing to indicate why our audience doesn't follow one or both of these channels, it is likely due to personal preferences or corporate blocks of those channels. Across the spread of Facebook and Twitter, Facebook does come out ahead in terms of being seen as more useful with 66% of responses indicating value was seen there as opposed to 51.8% indicating the same for Twitter. In general, the results indicate retaining a heavier focus on the blog is the right course of action for us.
- Question 4: Has content from Rational Support's social channels helped you solve an issue without calling support?
42.6% of all respondents have avoided at least one support call, with the majority of responses indicating they have avoided creating PMRs at least twice. Of the 24.1% 'other' responses, all but two were IBMers, for whom the question was irrelevant. The two 'other' responses indicated that specific content is tough to find and that using Google to locate specific answers was more effective. Generally speaking, these results show our efforts in amplification of high value content and improving search result efficiencies (socially shared content tends to bubble up in search results now) reflect more value.
- Question 5: On which social channel would you be more inclined to interact with us?
Surprisingly, 53.7% indicated they are more inclined to interact with us on Facebook than any other channel. Second to Facebook was the NFRS blog at 40.7% with Twitter and G+ showing an equal level around 25%. This indicates we're in the right place on Facebook. With the number of responses for GooglePlus we will continue to investigate the benefits of a page in that space and how we may be able to bring our audience even more value there. The 'other' responses highlighted LinkedIn as a requested channel, a XING group, on developerWorks forums, as well as direct email. All these responses indicate that investigating these various channel solutions in the next year and adopting those which make business sense will be a target goal, as well as retaining the more traditional forms of communication already in play.
- Question 6: Optional, Free text entry. Please let us know what you would like to see from these channels, or provide any additional comments to help us serve you more effectively.
There were some great call-outs here. The most actionable was a request for info on general Support how-tos and entry points. I am happy to say we are currently working on building out some solid posts to address these areas. Another request was to focus on our 'Google juice' to ensure hits via search engines. This actually plays directly into our model showing more value in social amplification and effectiveness via search result improvements. We also got a few comments noting that we had “Too many posts in a short time”. This resulted in an immediate adjustment of our channel feeds to reduce the potential for content floods even before the survey was closed. (In full transparency, the same content floods that caused the comments in the survey were also pain points for me in my own channels.)
In general it seems you, our audience, do find value in our social business efforts. Our blog appears to be the most highly valued of our efforts and as such we should retain our main focus, using the other channels as aggregates to amplify visibility. A focus on helpful support items like 'how to contact' and clarifications of various support concepts like STCs, various IDs, and other how-to type posts will show higher value for our channels. With slightly over 55% of our followers as IBMers, a focus on leveraging our present network to function in a distributed method connecting the right clients with the right SMEs should help us provide even more effective and efficient value across the board. We need to continue targeting and pushing the right content through our social channels at the right times to enable clients like you more direct and ready access to the information you need.
And lastly we owe a huge thank you to everyone who took the time to provide responses via the survey. Without that kind of direct feedback, we'd just be shooting in the dark and hoping we hit our targets... helping us to identify the targets means even better accuracy in the future, and better accuracy in the support world means you spend less time and resources finding good solutions to issues when they crop up.