The Future of Customer Service: 3 strong crowd service cases

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Crowdsourcing and consumer collaboration are marketing buzzwords but the whole system is still in its infancy. Most co-creation experiments are really PR campaigns rather than examples of actual consumer involvement. At the university of customer collaboration, the corporate world is just a freshman.

Outsourcing (part of) your customer service to customers is obviously a drastic evolution. By taking this step, you’re really implying that customers have at least the same amount of product knowledge as the manufacturer.

The IT world was the first to make tentative strides in crowd service with organically constructed forums where ICT enthusiasts lend each other a helping hand. Today, the technological sector is still the most fertile ground for crowd service.

To read more about the evolution of customer service, feel free to read my paper ‘From personal, to self to crowd service’.

Giffgaff customer support

Giffgaff is a ‘SIM card only’ telecom player in the UK. The customer service is entirely in the hands of their community members. All members are customers. The more active their support for other customers, the bigger the rewards. There is no safety net and Giffgaff has no call center. In other words, the entire customer service consists of crowd service. In 2010, no fewer than 130,000 queries were posted on their forum and these questions elicited more than 1 million replies. 95% of all questions were answered within the hour. The average response time is three minutes.

Verizon

Telecom player Verizon uses a customer-helps-customer forum in support of their other service channels. The ratio on their forum is 1-9-90. One percent of their users are so-called super users. They spend between 20 to 30 hours a week on the forum helping others. These super users are not rewarded financially; instead they are rewarded with a digital status. They earn recognition instead of money. Nine percent of users frequently answer questions by other users. They don’t spend that much time on the forum but they do answer the questions they have personal experience with. Ninety percent of the community members are readers. They are just trying to find the answer to their queries. Crowd service only works when the super users are actively involved in a community. The presence of that one percent attracts the 90% of readers, which sparks the efficiency surge that companies are counting on.

Barclay Card

Barclay Card is a credit card built around a strong user community. On the one hand, Barclay’s online community helps the company brainstorm about the future of the product while on the other it acts as a crowd service platform. Customers discuss various financial topics and help each other with small operational questions about the credit card. The results are astounding. Customer retention is up 25%. The number of questions and complaints via traditional customer service channels dropped by 50%. Barclay Card puts the total return at 10 million dollars.

And this video contains some facts to show the evolution of crowd service and the openness consumers have towards this trend.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steven Van Belleghem
Steven Van Belleghem is inspirator at B-Conversational. He is an inspirator, a coach and gives strategic advice to help companies better understand the world of conversations, social media and digital marketing. In 2010, he published his first book The Conversation Manager, which became a management literature bestseller and was awarded with the Marketing Literature Prize. In 2012, The Conversation Company was published. Steven is also part time Marketing Professor at the Vlerick Management School. He is a former managing partner of the innovative research agency InSites Consulting.

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