Kiddicare’s Growth Powered by Customer Obsession, “CrowdService” Innovation

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In late 2009, Kiddicare, the UK’s largest online retailer of baby products, found itself inundated with emails asking the same questions, over and over. Important questions like, “When will my orders be received?”

Seriously, time is of the essence when parents need restocking of baby supplies from popular brands like Britax, Graco and Quinny. Do you want to tell junior to wait a day for his baby formula or diapers?

This sparked Fred Soneya, who leads Kiddicare’s eCRM and eCommerce activities, to look for an innovative way to serve customers cost-effectively, while making good on the retailer’s commitment to offer a hassle-free shopping experience. For example, Kiddicare guarantees that orders placed by 5 p.m. will be delivered the next working day within a one-hour time slot—a level of responsiveness that competitors don’t match according to Soneya.

In fact, I’m hard pressed to think of any retailer that offers this sort of hyper-responsive service. Perhaps Zappos comes close. In the U.S., we’re lucky if a cable company will give a four hour installation window two weeks from now.

Harnessing the wisdom of social customers

But I digress. Getting back to Kiddicare, Soneya discovered that the repetitive questions were not good for agent productivity or customer satisfaction. So they decided to “get satisfaction” (pun intended) by launching the Kiddicare online community, powered by GetSatisfaction.

This is a great example of what I’ve dubbed “CrowdService“—harnessing the power of an online community to enable customers to help each other, avoiding unnecessary work by contact center agents. Done right, it’s truly a win-win for customers and the company.

Why was GetSatisfaction selected? Soneya says that other solutions they reviewed (e.g. Lithium) were built around a forum paradigm and reminded him of a “techie website”—not consistent with the fun and easy-to-use experience they wanted to deliver to parents online.

Now well into its second year of usage, Soneya reports that they cut inbound emails by 30%, and increased First Call Resolution (FCR) from 60% to 98%. You see, Kiddicare made it easier for customers to get order status online and find answer in the community instead of requiring multiple calls or emails to agents. Win-win.

Disruptive innovators can sneak up on an industry

GetSatisfaction is an interested story in itself. After taking the CEO reins nearly 3 years ago, Wendy Lea has grown the company’s customer base six fold to more than 63,000 customers as of this writing.

Of course, many are small and don’t generate much revenue. But that’s precisely the point of a disruptive business model, which helped Salesforce.com grow rapidly in the shadows of industry giants like Siebel, Oracle and SAP. They didn’t take the disruptive innovator seriously, and now are scrambling to react.

Following a similar path, GetSatisfaction is offering a simpler, lower-cost and and easier-to-use alternative to existing community solutions designed for larger enterprises, from vendors like Lithium, Jive and many others.

This is is a great example of what Clayton Christensen calls “disruptive innovation,” where a product or service enters at the bottom of a market, often targeting un-served or under-served segments, and then moves up market to eventually challenge and displace established competitors.

The future will be mobile

Looking ahead, Kiddicare has a bright future as part of Morrisons, a huge supermarket chain. So, you could see Kiddicare’s online service available throughout Europe and maybe elsewhere. That will drive Kiddicare’s volumes several times higher than the current 50K+ orders each month from 1 million unique visitors, says Soneya.

Mobile figures prominently into Kiddicare’s plans, too. The retailer already gets about 11% of daily visits from iPhones and other smartphones. Soneya notes that people are buying products earlier and later in the day, and don’t always have time to get to a traditional computer. Furthermore, iPhone users can use a bar code scanner to check Kiddicare prices, which in effect “turns all competitors into showrooms.” Soneya is currently reviewing GetSatisfaction’s new mobile solutions to see how they might help.

Kiddicare + GetSatisfaction is a powerful example of how customer-obsessed innovation can disrupt the status quo and drive outsized growth. What are you doing in your industry to shake things up?

1 COMMENT

  1. Bob:

    This does not look like a good example of “crowdservice” to me, since 99%+ of the answers provided are by staff and not customers. In my quick review I could not find even one question answered by another customer.

    Check out http://community.kiddicare.com/kiddicare/questions/answered to see what I am talking about for yourself.

    The same questions also seem to be answered multiple times.

    GetSatisfaction certainly has a good online community product, but this community seems to be more about trying to create a community of open engagement between customers and staff and not one that has demonstrated any capability of reducing assisted-service costs.

    Although quite common for many vendors to include as deflected all questions answered in a community, I fail to see how it makes sense to include questions answered in a community by staff in any deflection metric.

    ….justsayin, Chuck

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