I haven’t written a Scout Labs “vision” post in a while, but now is the time. Because the new enhancements that come online today take Scout Labs closer to our vision than ever before.
Today’s release incorporates lots more data - more forums, more news, more Tweets - and offers more powerful (and beautiful) graphing capabilities. Our product team will detail those enhancements in an upcoming post. What I want to discuss today are the new collaboration features and place them on the backdrop of the Scout Labs mission.
We founded this company upon a fundamental belief: that brands are protected in “packs”; that listening should NOT be one person’s job, but the every day job of many. The un-mediated voice of the customer should flow to the desktop of everyone - Product teams, Marketing teams, Customer Service departments, senior executives, PR teams, and the Agencies and Agents of all of the above. When the voice of the customer is in the hands of knowledgeable people, innovation happens - new product ideas, new marketing ideas, new service ideas, new connections with customers.
Collaboration at Scout Labs So, “collaboration” is a not a FEATURE for Scout Labs. It’s not a thing that we launch in month 10. It’s a belief system and vision that permeates our product, our UI, our pricing model and, yes, even our technology and our algorithms. Because if you believe that listening is the job of TEAMS, not an individual, you build your app in a very particular way:
You create an app that is intuitive and simple to use and understand instantly. If it’s a crazy flex app, people won’t use it. If it takes tons of training to figure out, people won’t use it. If you make people work hard or if it takes a long time to get actionable insight to come out the other end, people won’t use it. When people rave about Scout Labs’ ease of use, how intuitive it is, and how much insight they gain for so little work, we are very proud but we are not surprised or amazed. This is what we work at every day. Quick story: A major television network signed up as a customer recently and immediately had dozens of people logged in. When our account team reached out to welcome them and asked if anyone on the team needed a quick training the answer was, “Our team has taken to Scout Labs like fish to water. I can’t imagine needing training but I’ll ask around just in case.” How many other social media monitoring vendors / listening platforms can point to stories like that?
You focus on the functionality that the most people need every day to do their jobs better. You give them the insight they need in an easy to digest way and you remove confusing advanced controls (for most). Do people need to see social-graph-visualizations every day to do their jobs? Not very many, so we didn’t start there. If you layer in too much deep-dive researcher functionality, you will baffle the people who need the information the most and who can do the most with it - those on the front-lines.
You do NOT charge by seat. Charging by seat just limits the product’s viral potential and its effectiveness in the organization. If you care about teams really uniting around your dashboard, then, instead, you encourage team usage and sharing and find other ways to earn revenue. We choose to charge by the number of things (searches) your extended team tracks / we analyze on your behalf. So, if we are useful and valuable, you will rely on us more and more, and you will pay more.
You cherish collaborative interaction by teams and use it to get even smarter! At Scout Labs, we have architected for user feedback loops. As users work with each other and with the data - change a sentiment score, flag something as spam, etc. - we use that feedback as labeled data which can train our algorithms (which are almost all learning and adapting). This gives us a major competitive advantage, because we have thousands of highly motivated, highly skilled Scout Labs users unwittingly “labeling” data for us, which we use to improve algorithms and augment dictionaries and linguistic rules.
All of the above are core tenets of Scout Labs and fundamental to how our platform works and what makes us unique. It’s why Scout Labs is the hands-down platform of choice for extended teams that want to tune in to social media.
(One of the many things) New in this release: Assignments If you are a customer of Scout Labs, you have a common, voice-of-the-customer dashboard and a common set of social media metrics to navigate by. You have adoption and usage throughout the company, and you have a robust platform for taking action.
But you may also need help to NOT trip over yourselves - a way to coordinate your interactions with each other and with your customers. You need “Assignments”, a flexible ticketing and workflow feature which is what has launched today as a feature at the Professional level.
As Scout Labs users know, you have always been able to tag and discuss and route things via email to others on your team, and Standard level plans will have all those same capabilities, but this Pro feature offers:
A built-in ticketing system so that any piece of content can be assigned to a person, given a status, and tracked by all.
A team control panel showing how well you are doing at responding - # open tickets, # closed tickets, average days to close tickets, etc.
A personal to-do list and stats for your own engagement metrics.
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts This is not a new idea. Other platforms in our space have a workflow feature, BUT they do not as completely live and breathe collaboration the way Scout Labs does (see above), so the feature’s utility has been limited.
If you charge by seat and hence hardly anyone buys additional seats, there’s no one to collaborate with! If the app is difficult to use and thus is mainly used by the one person who had training and can figure the thing out, what’s the point of a ticketing system? Scout Labs did it the other way around. We EARNED the honor of being the voice-of-the-customer dashboard to entire organizations, and now, with “Assignments”, we give our customers even more powerful ways to collaborate, coordinate and take action.
Again, the new Assignments feature in this release is in addition to major new data enhancements that everyone gets access to - lots more forum data, general news sources broken out, richer Twitter data options, and sexy new graphs. Look for a post from Margaret next that will give more detail on those enhancements soon.
Previously posted on scoutlabs.com/blog on Feb 8, 2010