In a guest blog post at the Competitive Advantage Marketing Blog, we analyze the nature of engagement. Much of this work forms the foundation for the functional flows being implemented in Topaz Social.
Just a quick update on some of the things we are currently working on:
1/ Upgrading the code to support Rails 3.2
2/ Support Case functionality
3/ Integrations with Twitter
4/ Usability improvements
Activity streams are used extensively in social networking platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn as a very effective and efficient means of communication.
Topaz Social makes use of Activity Streams as a powerful communication mechanism and paradigm within the context of CRM business flows.
A user can follow another user.
A user can also follow an entity (such as a ServiceCase or a ForumPost entity).
The activity stream of a user consists of updates made by user’s being followed and entities being followed, interspersed with updates made by the user himself/herself.
It is possible to assign tags to each entity in Topaz Social.
This allows for unstructured classification and easy search of entities.
Each entity in Topaz Social allows for associating unstructured information in the form of notes.
The ServiceCase entity represents a problem reported by a customer or customer questions.
A ServiceCase has a type, priority, status, and impact. These help in assigning and monitoring of the ServiceCase.
On resolution, the solution is entered in the ServiceCase.
A ServiceCase is assigned to an employee, who is responsible to solving the case. The employee will record progress in the ServiceCaseLog entity. A ServiceCase can be re-assigned to another employee also.
All interactions with the customer are recorded in the ServiceCaseInteraction entity.
Forums allow for the creation of online communities of customers and prospective customers of a company.
There are 2 main types of conversations which can happen in a forum:
1. Conversations between customers, or between prospects and customers. These can be deemed as conversations amongst peers (customers helping customers/prospects).
2. Conversations between the company and it’s customers, and between the company and prospects.
Forums allow prospects to learn more about product features and ask questions before making an informed decision on whether to buy or not to buy. These conversations can potentially result in creation of leads/opportunities.
Forums allow existing customers to discuss product usage, bugs, issues, suggest enhancements, and request new features. These interactions can potentially result in creation of service cases.
By making these conversations visible to other customers/prospects, it is possible to help/reach-out to lot more people, lot quicker, and lot more effectively than traditional means of communication.
Posts to forums can be moderated.
Forums (like accounts/sites/contacts), also have a hierarchical data model.
At the top of the hierarchy is the ForumCategory entity. A ForumCategory has many Forum entities.
A Forum entity has many ForumTopic entities, and each ForumTopic entity has many ForumPost entities.
We do not allow nesting of ForumPost entities.
Customers are represented in a 3-level hierarchical model consisting of accounts, sites, and contacts.
The account entity sits at the top of the hierarchy, and represents the company of a customer.
Each account can have one or more sites, where each site represents a different location of the company (account).
The contacts are at the lowest (or leaf) level in the hierarchy. Each site can have one or more contacts.
In addition to usual information about a contact such as their name, phone numbers, and email, we also store the contact’s LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook id’s.
If the LinkedIn id of the contact is available, the LinkedIn profile of the contact is displayed and recent updates.
If the Twitter id of the contact is available, the most recent tweets of the contact are displayed.
Employee can view/modify entity
Manager of employee can view/modify/re-assign entity
Users are of 4 types:
1. company admins
2. employees of the company
3. prospects (potential customers) of the company
4. customers of the company
Company (site) admin will invite employees of the company to signup. The company employee will receive an email at their company email address with signup instructions.
Employees of the company must signup using their company email address.
Customers/prospects can login using Twitter credentials.
These are the main entities in the Topaz Social data model:
2. Account, Site, Contact
3. Follow, Follower
4. ForumCategory, Forum, ForumTopic, ForumPost
5. ServiceCase, ServiceCaseInteraction, ServiceCaseLog
In the future, we plan to add the following entities (and associated business flows):
4. Product, Pricing, Promotion
5. Quote, SalesOrder
Topaz Social is a lightweight open source social CRM built in ruby on rails.
Topaz Social implements CRM business flows from the ground up using powerful social networking principles of users profiles, follow/followers, activity streams, user generated content and tags for searching. Topaz Social also integrates Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook into CRM business flows.
Our goal is to put the focus on the “R” in CRM. We want a company to be able to build better relationships with it’s customers through rich interactions and conversations supported by social channels of communication. This will result in significant efficiencies in the sales, marketing, and service processes, thus enabling the company to effectively acquire and retain customers, as well as grow top-line and bottom-line revenues.
In keeping with this general philosophy, we have chosen the name “Topaz”, which is the November birthstone, and a symbol of friendship (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Topaz).
We would like to keep the core of Topaz Social as lean as possible, implementing the most common entities and business flows as part of the core. This is for ease of understanding, adoption, and use.
We expect that additional entities and business flows will be implemented through extensions and customizations.