There are two types of support: traditional and groundswell support.
The traditional approach consists of two forms that are used to support customers. First, companies would direct their customers to their Web sites for product and problem-solving information. Second, companies outsourced- moved support calls overseas. Although these forms allow companies to save money, people tend to get frustrated with the long waits, unguaranteed quality, and unavoidable paperwork that each of the forms would require.
The new support applications include a wide variety of forums work. For example, there is the iRobot which is used for its robot vacuum cleaners to solve problems. Another application is the FICO, which allows people to help each other understand the ins and out of credit scores. However, these applications are not about saving money; instead, they offer many benefits that outweighs the cost.
So is wiki right for you?
The answer is simple. If you think that your customers are willing to share in common collection of information, then you should look into creating one. Once you start it and get it going, customers will stay active and engaged. But then again, nothing comes without a risk. The only difference is that wiki’s potential risks are greater than you think. The risk is in getting them going, because they are way harder than support forums! If you decide that wiki is the right form for your business, then here are some tips for a successful one:
- People: Find people with a common interest in contributing, and connect with some of those active participants in your customer base, then invite them to help you start it.
- Content: although you can expect the wiki to grow and evolve, but it still needs a pretty substantial seed crystals to get started. So, keep in mind that it take a lot more content to get a wiki off the ground compared to a discussion forum.
- Patience and policy: the rules of you wiki should be clear and balanced. Also, relate and think of the wiki as it belong to you and your customers.
How about, helping the groundswell support itself?
Should that be an option? Let me tell you: if your concern just about saving money, then do not bother. But if your vision includes moving all you customers online and lay off those support reps then do not hesitate. Doing so, will allow you to help your customers support each other, which, in return, makes them happier, save money, and generate insights.
Did I convince you? Cool, now here are some aspects that you need to consider before starting:
- What problem is your support activity trying to solve? Think of what seems to be your customers’ biggest issue.
- Groundswell support needs your participation. Support communities need activities, because they create traffic and links, which increases search engine placement.
- Why build it if you can join it? Check whether there is an existing community for your customers. As a matter of fact, the members of those already-created communities are dying to hear from you, so why not connecting to them?
Did you decided to go ahead and build a community for support? Here are some suggestions to keep in mind:
- Start small, but expect a bigger presence: many companies have multiple product lines, so they think that they have to do it all at one. However, the best way is to start small maybe with one product. Only when you learn what works for your customers you can start expanding.
- Reach out to your most active customers: find the enthusiasts group of you customers to participate. These particular customers will become the most important in your online community. Thus, you must ensure you keep their support and enthusiasm.
- Plan to drive traffic to your community: be sure that if you do not advertise your product or service, no one will know about it. So, advertise on site where your customers shop.
- Build on a reputation system: allow the participants to build up a good reputation as this will drive more participants to join your community.
- Let your customers lead you: having customer is really all you need to direct your company. They will tell you what to do and not do. So pay attention to what they tell you.
(Li & Bernoff, 2011, pp. 174-175)
What does it add to your company?
When you participate in community forums, your forum will become a place for customers to talk about everything. And by everything I really mean everything (products, usage, pricing, competitors, salespeople, new products, stocks even your logo, labor and factories). You should think of this as an opportunity where you are directly obtaining all the information and data you need to enhance sales and marketing.
Can you think of a company that has a great community support? take a look at the one that Sony has Playstation Community
Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Massachusetts, Boston, United States of America: Forrester Research, Inc.
Nissan (n.d). Community support. [Image]. Retrieved from http://pictures.dealer.com/j/jenkinsnissan/1481/5a2f536cfc01a41ba5eb62755103a742x.jpg
WordPress. (n.d). Helping the groundswell support itself. [Cartoon]. Retrieved from