Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Groundswell Support - Optimizing Benefits with Interactive Forums

Groundswell is illustrated in energizing, self-supporting, embracing and using twitter  aspects in chapter 7-10. In energizing part, it shows that why does word of mouth succeeds, the three basic techniques for energizing enthusiasts, the benefits of ratings and reviews and five tips for energizer. Then in chapter 8, there is the comparison between traditional support and groundswell support, the benefits of community support forum and how does company participate in this activity. Chapter 9 and 10 told us the importance of innovating faster, and the way to use groundswell with twitter.

In all of these parts, there is an interesting topic "traditional support versus groundswell support". Comparing with the traditional telephone customer service, it illustrates a visible, chapter and more comfortable way to solve the problems of customers - to build a community support forum.

Click here to know what is an internet forum.

Here is the beginning:

Before we have the community support forum, most companies choose to provide telephone customer service. But there are several disadvantages of the telephone customer service: 1) It leads to huge cost in your company. 2) The solutions cannot be shared widely in your customers. 3) Voice only, you can not provide visual supports to you customers...

In this condition, some companies choose the new ways to provide better supports, like Bank of America has good online chat service, users can consult with the experts of BOA directly online. Some companies outsource their customer services to the professional companies, this video shows HP's technical supports outsourcing:

Actually, these ways are also using the resources within your companies only, how can we use the external resource on the customer services? Now, groundswell gives us a chance to do a revolution.

In groundswell, base on the new computer technologies and huge online population, more and more people would like to share their experiences and knowledge on the internet forum about a specific topic, and there are many expert would like to help others without payment. The case study "dell: answering questions with support forums" is a good example of the self-supporting in groundswell.

Dell has a great online community support forum. Actually, this community includes many different forum by the product classification. Users can choose a topic as their wants:

Then, users will see the relevant posts. If they can find a similar problem which they are experiencing, they might also find the solutions in the comments; If there is no similar problems, they can post a new one; If they know how to solve an existing problem in this forum, they can try to help the poster:

You can see this interface after you click one of these topics. In this topic, the poster got an organized support by someone:

In the community support forum, there are three beneficiaries: company, questioner and answerer. 

For the company, community support forum can reduce the salary cost of customer service employees; it provides the comfortable and reliable interactive experiences to customers; potential customer could be motivated to buy company's product after they have viewed this community.

Questioners could get the multi-view solutions by the comments of different people; they could also get the high-level supports from the specialists whom like Jeff Stenski.

For answerers, they could get the similar feeling like Jeff's: "That's what got me hooked: when you help people and they say "thank you"; and they could also get the technical promotion in their interacting with other specialists in the community.

Online community support forum provides huge helps to all of its participants. For the serious or emergent technical questions, the users might still need the help of specialists in the companies. If the companies would like to combine these two ways for their customer service, I believe they will have the low-cost and high-quality customer services.

1 comment:

  1. thanks for the post! IT's pretty cool to think about online forums. Almost everyone can say they dread calling a company on the phone. Half of it is because of annoyance while the other half might be dealing with awkwardness. It's never fun when you have to speak with a machine for 30 minutes before you can find your answer. Online forums and support also allow you to feel more comfortable. You can relax, drink a cup of coffee, have something to eat, etc.