I must say, this is actually one of the most interesting topics in the Groundswell I read so far. the fact that a company can allow those who share common interest communicate and support each other while saving huge costs and earn a profit is truly a step forward into the world of Groundswell.
Chapter 8 explains this objective more thoroughly. The main idea here is that customers or clients can actually support each other and thus, save you huge costs. One of the examples used by the two authors is Dell’s support forum, where a question regarding a dell product can be answered by Jeff Stenski. this question being asked in the support forum instead of a phone call, saved Dell, at least, $10, multiplied by the number of those who visited this forum, Dell would be saving huge costs. (Li & Bernoff, p. 159-160). Other kinds of forums can be made.
Wikis are also a great way to establish connections between customers. MIKE2.0 is a wiki where clients can collaborate. MIKE2.0 is “Method for an Integrated Knowledge Environment” where all a company’s information is gathered to give a better idea about where its business is standing. (Li & Bernoff, p. 166). one of the benefits of an open wiki is gaining more confidence before making a “multi-million dollar commitment by allowing clients to feel supported as they solve problems together.
Although wikis are a great way to establish connections and foster support among clients, it is not for everyone. This is because not every company has people with common interests who are willing to contribute and experts to help out. Also, there has to be content as well as patience and policy.
Moreover, Li and Bernoff present some suggestions to start a community, these suggestions are:
- Start small but be prepared to grow: taking small steps gives you the opportunity to learn more about your customers and what works for them before overspending.
- Reach out to your most active enthusiasts: your enthusiasts will potentially be the leaders of your community, so it’s important to reach out to them and inquire about their preferences in contributing to the community.
- Use all your resources to drive traffic to the community: just like the example of Linksys mentioned by the two authors, they took advantage of the increased phone calls to remind callers while on hold, to check to check out their support system, and the result was fewer customer complaints.
- Build in a reputation system, allowing reward for activity: this will definitely encourage members to participate. Jeff Stenski, Dell’s community forum contributor, is at diamond level making his advice more credible (Li & Bernoff, p. 175)
- Let the customers shape the future of the community: customers using your community may have opinions about how it should run. Their opinions must be taken seriously to encourage them to continue using your community.
Last week I had a problem with my Microsoft Word (Office 365). As I was working on a paper for another class, I noticed that typing was extremely slow. I decided to ask Google for help and it took me to community page only for office 365. A user posted his/her suggestion he said “I was going to ask about it here, but I actually found some more about it…” this shows that he/she was having the same issue and were going to ask about on the same forum, but were able to think of a solution, which they still chose to share it with other community members saving Microsoft a long costly phone call. (it helped me)
Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell. Boston, Massachusetts: Harvard Business School Publishing.