Chapter 8 – Helping the Groundswell Support Itself
As we start Chapter 8 off, we read about how companies view supporting their customers as a burden. Not only does it cost money to be on the phone dealing with issues and questions, its taking time away from something else that could be getting done. I can relate to this because in my job, I usually know that when someone’s calling its because something hasn’t been done right, or something needs to be done differently. It also takes me away from my tasks that I need to get done, resulting in lots of overtime to makeup for work that should’ve been done in the day. Companies in 1990 recognized they could take some of this off their plate by directing customers to their websites, which soon became known as “the self service revolution“. It also discusses how people are actually inclined to help out total strangers because people are far more willing to trust other people than a company. Dell is mentioned as a prime example of a company who uses online forums and support groups to create “a community” amongst their customers who can rely on one another for information in regards to their products or services. The reason they are interacting in this way isn’t for fun, but rather answers.
This makes me think….how many less calls a day would I have, and how much MORE work could I get done if there was simply a place customers could go to communicate these questions and get answers back without even talking to a company representative?
I think its important for companies to understand that creating wiki’s, blogs or forums as a resource for customers can not only help their business financially, but it can help them create a tight knit community together. It provides a place where they can problem solve together and adds value all around and can create leads and produce new clients.
The chapter discusses the importance of creating a community of experts in order for it to be successful. Its important to get support from your customers, ask them for help, and involve them in the process. Its also important to remember about patience and policies. What rules will you make to ensure the integrity of the information?
Next, chapter 8 discusses the importance of three questions that will need to examine what the groundswell means for your company.
- What problem will you solve?
- How will you participate?
- Whether you should create a support community or join an existing on
I like how they mention to ask yourself the question WHY? Why will your customers find these forums or wikis helpful? I think its so important as a business owner to always put yourself in the customers shoes. If you were them, would you use it? How can you make it the best experience possible and ensure people will continue using it? All these questions that business owners & managers must think about when implementing and working with the groundswell.
Here is some great advice for starting a community for support:
- Start small, but plan for a larger presence
- reach out to your most active customers
- Plan to drive traffic to your community
- Build a reputation system
- Let your customers lead you
After doing some additional research on other great support forums out there, companies such as Cisco have built support communities for their members to collaborate and communicate about anything they wish. Companies such as Apple have also done the same. In conclusion of chapter 8, its important that companies look at these support communities as a huge opportunity. There are going to be times where customers use these resources to put negative feedback about price and certain experiences they’ve had, but look at like “you have a front row seat”. You can ask people to clarify their comments, add additional information to better a situation, and collaborate with these people to gather as much information as possible. In the end, the more information you have, the better off you and the success of your company will be.
Charlene Li, Josh Bernoff,. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies. (expanded and revised edition.). Harvard Business School Press.