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Around the world in 3 weeks: How Witness Systems took on corporate blogging, one country at a time

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By Katherine Hand

Challenge: In past years, Witness Systems, a Roswell, Ga.-based workforce optimization company, spread the word of its annual Asia-Pacific seminar tour though press releases and media engagements. But this publicity’s reach was limited in that it typically stayed within one country.

Solution: Oscar Alban, Witness Systems’ principal global market consultant, said that not long ago, he heard a startling statistic—that 27,000 new blogs are added to the Internet daily. When he and colleague Bill Durr set off on their annual Witness Systems global seminar trip—a series of speaking engagements designed to help company contact centers with customer service strategies, evolving technology and employee retention techniques—they figured blogging would be a great way to communicate their globetrotting experiences and promote the series. And so was born the APAC Roadshow Blog.

“Blogging has become a very important communication channel,” Alban said. “And people are gravitating toward it. We knew that by not doing it, we would be missing out.”

While the corporate blogosphere is getting lot of buzz, relatively few corporations are taking advantage of this model. In a recent survey of 150 top-level executives from Fortune 1,000 companies released by Makovsky & Co., only 15% said their companies had corporate blogs; 51% admitted they had only a vague understanding of what blogging is.

Debbie Weil, author of the newly published “The Corporate Blogging Book” (Penguin Portfolio), said that b-to-b blogs are becoming imperative. “Big companies are like cities, and it gives them a way to grasp better the culture, the messaging, the strategy. It’s much more alive, it’s instant, it’s real,” Weil said. She attributes the low number of corporate blogs to the fact that the concept is still new and that many companies haven’t figured out how to tackle blogs in a way they can carry though with in terms of resources, staffing, technology, monitoring and upkeep. By starting with a limited scope, Witness Systems was able to utilize the technology and interest in a manageable first step.

“We were writing it to contact center directors, executives who are constantly curious if the things they run into are the things everyone runs into—but we hit an additional group—our engineers who are doing coding that people are going to use to solve problems,” Alban said. “There was something missing bringing that all together. So there was a huge payoff in communication internally.”

Alban and Durr rotated days posting to the blog, each researching interesting facts about the countries they visited and then writing entries that were part trivia, part anecdotal reflection and part business solutions. The focus of the blogs was on recounting things that resonated with each country’s particular audience along with their concerns and resolutions.

“I’d be so pumped up [after a speech]. It was a great outlet to get my thoughts out right away and send them,” said Durr, who recounted squeezing his writing into a busy travel schedule (stops in Auckland, Bangalore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Melbourne, Mumbai, Noida, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo and Wellington). During the three week trip, the pair blogged from airports, hotel rooms and planes.

Results: The APAC Roadshow Blog got more than 400 visitors in a two-week period. “I’ve had people come up to me who I’ve never even met say they’ve been reading my blog,” Alban said. He added that he’s been told the blog is on many call center managers “favorites” lists and that recently one of Witness Systems’ competitors announced the launch of its own blog. “They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery,” he said.  “We didn’t intend to do this, but it’s like, wow!—and people are asking for more.

In light of the blog’s success, Alban and Durr will continue to blog on their North American speaking tour experiences.

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