HELLO, WE ARE 4 ROADS

BESPOKE.

Do you need a digital solution that an off-the-shelf product just can’t provide? We’ve created everything from bespoke health platforms to autonomous production line systems.

We also create bespoke products to integrate systems that run on disparate technologies.

ENTERPRISE.

Whether it’s a global solution or a small WordPress site, we can catapult your brand to the next level. In fact, we’re even a Sitecore Certified Solution Partner for Implementation.

COMMUNITY.

Are you looking to build better customer relationships through an online community?

We’re experts in strategy, implementation, and integration – as well as being the longest standing global partner of Telligent Community.

Contact us on  0808 189 2044 to discuss your digital requirements.

A SMALL TEAM WITH BIG IDEAS

"The combination of their extensive knowledge and their experience with a diverse client base has been invaluable, supporting everything from development on small and
large projects, to consulting on our roadmap and strategy. 4 Roads have been responsive, timely and always willing to go the extra mile, we cannot recommend them enough."

Magnus-Andreas Sølvberg Aase, AFS Intercultural Programs

Online communities

CONSULTATION

If you are implementing yourself, our strategic advice will set you on the road to long-term success.

Our consultation service will help you:

  • Understand your community
  • Identify the opportunities

We can then offer strategic direction before and during implementation to:

  • Provide a clear community focus
  • Ensure community engagement
  • Safeguard innovation
  • Help promote your community socially
  • Help monetise your community
  • Futureproof your community’s development

IMPLEMENTATION

Implementation is our core offering. If you’d like us to implement a community solution on your behalf we can take full responsibility for the project.

Alternatively, we’re happy to augment an internal team, offering our experience to enrich your own capabilities as we implement in partnership.

Our implementation process relies on:

  • Agile project methodologies
  • Regular client interaction
  • Driving high-quality results quickly and efficiently
  • Focusing on accelerating time to market
  • Ensuring clients stay within budget

INTEGRATIONS

We’ve been Telligent partners since 2004 and Sitecore Certified Solution Partners since 2016, so we know a thing or two about adding community features to Sitecore websites.

If you run – or are about to implement – a Sitecore-powered site, we can help you add forums, blogs, wikis, chat, gamification elements and so much more…

Read more about our work with Telligent and Sitecore

Bespoke solutions

INTEGRATIONS

Our expert developers can create a wholly new system to ensure different technology solutions work together intuitively.

SYSTEM DEVELOPMENT

Whether you’re starting with a blank sheet of paper, or planning to make use of existing software as you introduce a new application or technology, we have the development knowledge and experience to create new solutions to help transform your business.

Software Implementations

SITECORE

As a Sitecore Certified Solution Partner, we’re can create a truly responsive website.  Combining a CMS with analytics and automation features for enhanced engagement and personalisation, will turn your website into a lead generation and optimisation engine.

We can also help you manage the transition to using the Sitecore Experience Platform.

Our overall Sitecore offering includes:

  • Implementation
  • Training
  • Ongoing support

WEBSITE DESIGN 

Our design and development experts deliver solutions for both B2B and B2C clients. Here are a few of the ways we create stunning websites:

  • We use NET and PHP solutions
  • We develop on open source platforms – like Umbraco and WordPress
  • We also develop on closed source and bespoke platforms
  • Our coders are experienced with ASP, ASP.NET, PHP, HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript
  • Our sites incorporate SEO, social media, mobile and other tools

E-COMMERCE

We have a wealth of experience in creating e-commerce platforms that really deliver. We can help you with:

  • Conversion rate optimisation
  • User experience design
  • Creating bespoke features
  • Integrating your site with an e-comms solution

WHY WORK WITH 4-ROADS?

Successful Projects
Cups of Tea Consumed Annually
Community Users Worldwide
Years of Operation

What our customers say

Our latest thinking and insights

Audience cinema chairs

Why Your Audience Is Your Best Marketing Asset

Customers, employees, prospects and suppliers: your audience and best marketing asset…

It has never been easier to switch service suppliers than in today’s digital economy. As such, marketers know that to keep a brand strong, the idea of moving to a competitor must remain unattractive. In short, it’s critical for them to establish lasting relationships and create loyalty amongst the customers.

So, how do they do that?

Customers don’t just want a sale, they expect service providers to enrich their experience. In this article, we’ll examine how a business can offer something extra by implementing an online community that taps the collective knowledge of customers, employees, suppliers, and other partners, to provide a benefit-rich service for all.

Shared values

Speaking recently at the You Are The Media Conference in Bournemouth, the Content Marketing Academy’s Chris Marr introduced delegates to the concept of The Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD).

Put simply, ZPD means group learning. Individuals achieve more when surrounded by relatable people with whom they can share knowledge (thanks to Espirian for its excellent coverage of the You Are The Media event).

Shared objectives, commonalities, and a shared philosophy help people grow and learn. Online communities work in exactly this way. They enable individuals to gain specific knowledge from experts and change at speed.

Everyone is open and willing to help as, ultimately, they know that if they need to tap into this great reservoir of knowledge, they’ll benefit from such values being in place in the group.

Information silos

Of course, businesses don’t have a strong tradition of enabling groups to talk. They’ve tended keep a dividing line between customers, employees, suppliers, and partners because there has been no reason to do anything other

However, in today’s information-hungry digital world, keeping these groups apart means missing a great opportunity to tap into the collective knowledge they hold and using that to create strong relationships around a brand.

The changing nature of our digital economy means that all groups that exist around a business are equally important. As such, it pays to have a space to talk to them and for them to talk to each other.

Smarter marketing

Smart marketers know all the unused insights held in these different groups could be put to use if the old silos were dismantled. They want to see a single group; an audience that can be brought together by a shared interest in a business, its services, and products.

Marketers recognise that an online community is a great way to facilitate engagement of this kind. People can seek answers to questions from peers and, in turn, this sharing process creates a value that helps the brand retain customers, boost exposure, and enhance its credibility.

Varied use

Communities can take many forms. They can be generalist or focused around a key use; like the way Nordic Semiconductors uses its community as a customer service portal where people can source information from peers.

Other uses focus round things like product innovation or – as is the case for the British Medical Association – communities can be established for the professional development of the membership.

Communities don’t even have to be public facing. Some of the best marketing is done through internal communities, where a business creates a space for all its employees to come together. These spaces can be used for shared working, knowledge sharing, and mentoring.

Perhaps their best use, however, is in breaking down the silos that exist in larger organisations and encouraging smarter working and collaboration across departments.

A person, not a persona

The final key point to raise is about the manner in which communities can be an important marketing tool.

Unlike other forms of marketing the rely on pushing messages at people, communities simply allow individuals to build useful connections with peers and enable brands to build powerful connections with customers through person-by-person interaction.

Members of a community aren’t a segment or persona, they’re a real. The host business can talk to individuals on a human level, not through the sloganeering of the comms message.

This kind of direct communication is extremely appealing. In well-run groups, members don’t just exchange information, they become a brand’s biggest and most vocal advocates.

Loyalty like this can’t be bought. It can only develop through honest, open, and real relationships.

If you’d like to know more about maximising the digital relationship you have with customers, please either call, email, or complete this short form.

 

4 Roads appoints Kerys Morgan-Smith as Delivery Manager

4 Roads are thrilled to announce the appointment of Kerys Morgan-Smith as Delivery Manager.

She joins from BrewBroker, an online marketplace for the brewing industry where she ran their digital marketing campaign during their hugely successful crowdfunding raise.

Commenting on the appointment, 4 Roads Founder, Robert Nash said: “Kerys has a strong track record in project and marketing management and we welcome her to the team.”

Kerys will play a key role in ensuring 4 Roads customer satisfaction rates remain consistently high. Not only has she been bought on-board to lead project delivery and management of some large projects, she will be working to define and refine some of our internal processes and reporting procedures. This includes the brief to implement a Quality Management System – ISO 9001 accreditation.

Robert continues “We are sure Kerys will be a huge asset to the team at 4 Roads, and equally, to our customers!”

woman on laptop

How to build a winning online community

Once an organisation has taken the decision to implement an online community as part of its customer engagement strategy, it’s likely to have a ‘what next’ moment – how on earth will it get people to use this new resource?

The first thing to say is: don’t worry. There’s a well-trodden path to get this community performing. In this article, we’ll examine the nine key elements needed for an organisation to turn its new online community into a roaring success.

#1 Offer exclusive content

A principal aim of a community is offering people specific and insightful content they can’t get elsewhere, but this won’t happen overnight. In the early days, the host business will need to create much of the content itself.

It’s important to get this right as work done in the first weeks will help establish trust amongst a nascent audience. Content isn’t an opportunity for marketing. This can be off-putting. It should seek to answer audience questions. It should seek to understand what the audience wants and deal with the pain points of its members.

Content plays a huge role in the health and vitality of every community, but first it needs to establish credibility. Which brings us nicely to…

#2 Understand motivation

Participation needs to feel authentic. For a business to deal honestly and openly with its audience, it needs to understand the motivation of its membership. What can you help them achieve?

Motivation can be anything from completing a task, fulfilling a passion, or wanting to share an insight or useful piece of information. However, it’s vital everyone is treated as an individual. This means talking to them in a language they’ll understand and appreciate.

#3 Provide usual tools

We’ve talked about satisfying the audience with content, but it isn’t enough to just make information available. Equally important is enabling quick and easy access with high-quality design and a gratifying user experience.

It’s no use providing helpful posts if the audience grows frustrated with set-up of the community. Ultimately, the community will only thrive if it talks to itself more than it talks to the host. It needs to be able to do this with minimum fuss and maximum effect.

The experience can be enriched further through use of rewards for active users and through smart integrations, like Nordic Semiconductor’s introduction of its customer service ticketing system into its community to allow customers to source all the solutions they need from a single destination.

#4 Align your values

So far, we’ve examined mainly practical steps but before an organisation can put these measures into place, it needs to think about the strategic aims of the project.

One of the biggest strategic considerations is whether executives understand how the community could contribute to the success of the business. They must understand that making the organisation social in this way will help drive it forward.

#5 Further buy-in

If an organisation is going to deliver on strategic aims of becoming a social business, then cross-company buy-in is fundamental.

Each department needs to recognise the value a community can bring and executives need to ensure each maximises the opportunity.

Of course, the community will act as a vital customer service channel but beyond that development teams will find it’s an ideal place to gather feedback, answer customer queries, and to find out what to develop next.

For sales people, the benefits are equally strong. They can look for leads in the community, develop relationships with prospects, and start the process of cross- and upselling.

#6 Offer guidelines

For some organisations, the prospect of launching a community means worries about misuse, but they risk missing a great opportunity if they let those concerns drive them away.

A community offers a way to capture feedback and interact directly with people that are passionate about a product or service. The way to promote a safe, happy, and harmonious environment is to set clear guidelines around tone, audience expectation, and acceptable behaviour.

Once the rules are clear, the community can thrive.

#7 Measure success

A business might want to use its community to help it meet an ambitious mixture of lead generation, product feedback, and customer service targets.

But how is it going to measure success? What are the KPIs? What does ROI look like?

Until these markers are set, an organisation will find it hard to judge the effectiveness of its community or create a plan for it to deliver even greater results.

#8 Gather audience data

As part of the drive to measure success, a forward-thinking business should be keen to get hold usage data and use it to understand audience behaviours.

Not only will analysis provide evidence on what’s popular, it will act as a powerful tool to help aid the development of future content, features, and functionality.

#9 And lastly, promote

The final stage is to actively promote both the overall benefits of the community and individual pieces of content. Email, social updates, and search engine optimisation will be critical in helping to pull new people into the community where they can become engaged and enlightened.

Once this piece of the jigsaw is in place, the community will be on the way to cementing an active and growing membership that can start to deliver real benefits for each other and the host organisation.

 

If you enjoyed this blog post, you may also like these:

hexagon pattern

These six critical benefits show why your business needs its own social community

Organisations of all sizes recognise the benefit of being social yet many still assume platforms like Facebook and Twitter can meet all their engagements needs and fail to consider the alternatives.

A thriving community isn’t just great for an organisation’s reputation and brand awareness, the real advantages are often more actionable. Here, we’ll look at six major areas of benefit a forward-thinking business can gain from developing its own community rather than just using existing social networks.

Audience engagement

An audience is made up of lots of different groups. It can include customers, employees, prospects, and partner businesses. One of the greatest virtues of a dedicated community is how it brings together a group of individuals that might otherwise never meet around a common subject matter.

Good communities work by providing members with the necessary tools to connect with peers and host organisation, to build meaningful relationships, find answers to vital questions, share experiences, and to gather necessary feedback.

Over time as relationships develop, engagement grows and enhances.

Exclusive content

The result of all that engagement is specific and detailed content. Peer-to-peer chats, problem solving, and all the thought leadership that goes on plays a huge role in building the value of a community to its members – and over time, as content volumes increase, as does that value.

Multiple departments

Often a community development project has its genesis in the marketing department as it sees the benefit of establishing a permanent feedback loop to help it quickly and easily understand the needs, drives and desires of the various groups that interact with the business.

In forward-thinking businesses, however, the benefit of a dedicated community will soon become apparent to other departments.

For development teams, communities are ideal places to gather feedback on existing products, to answer customer queries, and to find out what the audience would like them to develop next.

While they’re busy understanding what needs to be built, sales people can look for leads in the community. They can develop relationships with prospects, gain an understanding of customer pain points, and once empowered with all that knowledge they can start to cross- and upsell.

Of course, the community also acts as a vital customer service channel, which brings us neatly to…

Customer service

The need to provide good customer service is critical to any business. Usually, this means operatives at the end of a telephone or internet connection – but as an organisation grows, how should it meet the increased customer service demand?

There must be a smarter way than simply scaling the customer service team to keep up with demand?

By integrating its customer service operation with an online community, Nordic Semiconductor was able to reduce the burden on its support teams – and restrict the need for it to grow exponentially – as customers more readily sought answers to their questions from peers.

Customers got their queries answered quickly in the community allowing operatives to offer a more valuable service as they dedicated more time to individuals whose queries couldn’t be dealt with in a public forum.

Why not Facebook?

Of course, these are all significant advantages, but wouldn’t just be easier to use established social networks like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn to conduct all this activity? Isn’t it possible to engage an audience more quickly and cheaply on these platforms?

Owned conversations

Wherever it takes place, social engagement helps remove the divide between a business and the customers, but if an organisation uses third-party network for all its digital interactions it risks leaving a vital part of its operation outside its control.

Customers today want more than a sale, they need a relationship. If an organisation bases that relationship on a third-party site, it’s powerless to prevent service changes damaging its customer interactions.

With an owned community, not only can a business remove the risk of its interactions being compromised, it can add necessary functionality to enhance and encourage the quality of communications that take place.

Owned data

Owning the conversation is one thing, but more crucial for a company that runs its customer engagement on social networks is that it has no control over data. It can’t decide how data should be applied and it will have only limited access to analyse the interactions that take place.

Relationship data is powerful stuff. Without access to information on how customers behave, a business is unable to conduct meaningful analysis nor maximise its digital relationships.

Conversely, a business running its own community – and controlling its own data – can tailor the experience to suit the audience. It can build the site to make sharing and conversation simple, it can offer rewards and incentives, and it can gather information on every bit of usage to inform both the development of the community and the wider strategic aims of the business.

 

If you’d like to know more about maximising the digital relationship you have with your customers, please either call, email, or complete this short form.

4 Roads Sponsor Engage 2018 - The Verint Customer Conference

4 Roads Sponsor Engage 2018 – The Verint Customer Conference

This week, 4 Roads are pleased to be sponsoring Engage, the Verint Customer Conference in Dallas, USA.

The event runs from the 14th-17th May 2018 – three days of learning, networking and feeling inspired. People across the globe will meet with a common aim of crafting their roadmap to customer and employee engagement success.

4 Roads founder and CEO, Robert Nash will be working with Telligent to run a break out session on ‘How to Get Your Customers to Help Offload Agents and Build Reusable Knowledge‘ on Wednesday at 12.30pm. He will also be at the Verint and Telligent booth discussing how adding an online community into your customer engagement strategy, combined with knowledge management can not only benefit customers, but also the customer service agents.

Two of our most recent case studies demonstrate just that. Both Nordic Semiconductor and Cherwell Software use a branded social community as a customer support and engagement tool and have reduced contact centre volume, burden on support teams, and streamlined the entire customer experience.

We are very happy to have been given the opportunity to sponsor such an event and if you are there, please do come and say hello!

social media apps

What Is The True Value of Social Media?

Wetherspoon has quit social media – why aren’t more firms questioning its value?

The pub chain JD Wetherspoon walked into a storm of publicity when it announced it would close all its social media accounts – but was it really such a bad idea?

In this article we’ll look at why Wetherspoon took the decision it did and then ask why more businesses aren’t questioning the value of their social media investment.

Ditching Twitter

Wetherspoon’s chairman Tim Martin gave several reasons for taking down the company’s Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram profiles, but chief amongst them was that social media just wasn’t helping the business.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-43781281

Despite a reasonable following (100,000 on Facebook, 44,000 on Twitter), Wetherspoon’s couldn’t engage a sizable audience. It concluded there wasn’t a community for it on social media and that it would be better off communicating through its website and printed magazine.

To an outsider looking in, it seems like the right decision. Albeit one perhaps taken for the wrong reason.

Scale, but no love

Where Wetherspoon retreated, other businesses have prospered. Many have build large social followings and are well-established. However, like Wetherspoon, even some of these businesses are starting to question whether they can extract proper value from this online following.

Social media presents an opportunity for organisations to make customers feel part of the business. Firms use these channels to make things personal. Having adopted this strategy, however, many companies are failing to convert the conversations they have on social media into more meaningful experiences for their customers.

If these businesses find it hard to see the value in following Wetherspoon’s lead and quitting social media altogether, they’re at least starting to reconsider their relationship with it.

Many of these businesses realise they need to move conversations from social media to an owned digital community. They need to see social media as a channel rather than a destination – a tool to draw people to their own websites or applications where the customer experience is enhanced.

Who controls the data?

When social engagement is done well, it has a positive effect on a business. The issue is that if an organisation over-invests in established social media networks – using them for all digital interactions – it can leave a vital part of the business outside its control.

Customers today want more than a sale, they need a relationship. If an organisation bases that relationship on a third-party site like Facebook or Twitter, it’s powerless to prevent services changes damaging customer interactions and, crucially, it also has no control over data.

https://www.4-roads.com/online_communities/facebook-update/

Building knowledge

The Cambridge Analytica scandal has taught us just how much we give away each time we establish a profile on a site that offers a service for no obvious cost. If we’re not buying a product, we’re the product.

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/mar/26/the-cambridge-analytica-files-the-story-so-far

To its owners, the value of a social platform like Facebook lies in pooled user data. However, the users don’t have absolute control over how their data is applied nor do they get full access to analyse the interactions that take place on their dedicated pages.

For businesses that want to make the most of the relationships they build digitally, the realisation is dawning that they need to own their own data and run their own communities.

Building relationships

Relationship data is powerful stuff. Without access to information on how customers behave and interact, a business is unable to conduct meaningful analysis nor maximise its digital relationships.

Conversely, a business running its own community – and controlling its own data – can tailor the experience to suit the audience.

Squatting on someone else’s platform, none of that is possible.

 

If you’d like to know more about maximising the digital relationship you have with your customers, please either call, email, or complete this short form.

https://www.4-roads.com/#contact

CONTACT US

Contact Info