According to Li & Bernoff (2011) supporting customers with their product is a big burden for companies because it usually cost their call centres $6 or $7. When all the cost are added up including the tech support, it would usually cost around $10 to $20. This adds up, thats why companies went to a quest to find a way to reduce those costs.
In the 1990s, companies have figured that they could send their customers to a website for informations. This resulted to what is now called as the “web self-service revolution”. e.g., Websites that has FAQ(Frequently Asked Questions). The second thing they figured was to move the call centres oversees. By doing this companies was able to reduce the cost by up to 40%.
The main goal of these companies is to reduce cost, but at the same time to be able to respond quickly to customer’s demands. This is where groundswell comes in because “people are far more willing to trust each other than a company, and people are willing to spend lots of time helping each other” (p. 158).
At present, companies can now utilize the groundswell to help them support the needs and wants of the consumers. In my own opinion, I believe the best way to go about supporting customer is to create a community. This is because it is not that expensive to set up, and it only needs to be moderated for posts that are inappropriate. This reduces the costs of call centres, and as well as the stress of always waiting on the phone for your turn to speak to the next available representative.
By creating a community, both employees and customers can collaborate with each other not only to support each other, but also to pilot new ideas which can bring a competitive advantage for the company.
Here is a practical advice for getting started with a community.
- Start small, but plan for a larger presence – starting small is the best way to succeed as in many groundswell activities.
- Reach out to your most active customers – Through the sales group, find the enthusiasts and ask them how they’d prefer to participate.
- Plan to drive traffic to your community – Advertise on sites where your customer shop, and put the community web address on the cover of the owner’s manual.
- Build in a reputation system – Allowing participants to build up a reputation because this is crucial
- Let your customers lead you – Include a thread called “Improving the community,” and pay close attention to what you hear throughout the forum.
Last but not the least, before you start a customer support initiative, you must first ask and answer this three questions:
- What problem is the support activity trying to solve?
- How will you participate?
- Should you create or join an existing community?
Li, C., Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing