What we learned: How a few companies are successfully using the Groundswell Framework, and what exactly it is that they are doing.

Listening – companies must listen to what customers are saying to gain better understanding

– Starbucks: My Starbucks Idea (www.mystarbucksidea.com) – a place where registered users can provide ideas, feedback, and talk to each other about the drinks, the food, whatever; Starbucks also monitors twitter feeds and responds directly to customer complaints or questions.

– Sprint: monitors twitter feeds about the company.

– New York Times: The TimesPeople application (http://timespeople.nytimes.com/home/about/) allows users to share and recommend articles more easily than e-mail (which it also supports, though requires some fields have input).

– (Eventually listening) Comcast: Comcast began listening to and acting upon customer complaints at the customer blog Comcast Must Die (http://comcastmustdie.com/). Eventually won that user over by changing service levels and becoming a more customer friendly organization.

Talking – Through social interactive tools (blogs, forums, communities), begin spreading messages to customers

– Starbucks: gives feedback on ideas at its idea site (above), and responds to concerns via twitter.

Example: Anon. twitters: “wtf – i thought starbucks had free internets now… gotta love random open network connections.” 09:02 AM September 26, 2008. Starbucks replies: @anon a registered Starbucks card will get you 2 hours of free at&t wifi … at: http://www.starbucks.com/ca… 10:28 AM September 26, 2008.

– Sprint – responds to twitter concerns directly – see blog post from www.brandflakesforbreakfast.com attached at end of document.

– New York Times: Over 60 blogs with content updated at least daily – many with world class authors such as Steven Dubner. Also uses twitter to send out headlines to followers (subscribers.)

Energizing – Determine who the most energetic users are and leverage their enthusiasm for the brand; essentially making them brand evangelists

– Starbucks: uses a leaderboard at the idea site to recognize significant contributors of ideas; contributors and members can vote for the best ideas which are then sometimes product tested

– Lego: the LUGNET group, which meets online as well as in person, consists of 25 ambassadors for the product and these positions are highly sought after – the title is, in essence, a reward that further incentivizes positive word-of-mouth.

– Apple: uses a reputation function to identify high quality posters among the many thousands who frequent their support and help forums

Supporting – Help customers support each other; an example is Dell’s user generated support forums – people have a natural affinity to help

– BestBuy: BB took this in an inward-facing direction – they set up Blue Shirt Network – a site where employees can connect, share their concerns, and get support from one another

– Apple: has user forums where users help each other

Embracing – After companies have succeeded in the first four steps, engage customers in product development through active feedback principles

– Starbucks: At My Starbucks Idea customer ideas sometimes become reality, as with their new smoother, richer hot chocolate that was obviously in high demand; also reversed their removal of the breakfast sandwiches due to customer feedback – customers have, in turn, responded positively and feel more like part of a community.

– Dell: the Dell IdeaStorm site has promoted user ideas and embraced changes – a site admin provides updates and personally welcomes new users that become solid contributors – many user generated ideas become reality, thus providing more impetus for fans to contribute again and again.

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