This week on our Friends on Friday guest blog post, my colleague Manuel Grenacher shares his top 5 reasons customers helping customers if the future of customer support. I agree and wrote about the idea of customers helping themselves and answering their own questions. – Shep Hyken More and more companies are turning to collaborative […]
This week on our Friends on Friday guest blog post, my colleague Manuel Grenacher shares his top 5 reasons customers helping customers if the future of customer support. I agree and wrote about the idea of customers helping themselves and answering their own questions. – Shep Hyken
More and more companies are turning to collaborative consumption practices to boost their customer support. Call it crowdsourcing, or crowd service; companies are increasingly recognizing that their own customers or brand advocates can be some of their most enthusiastic and efficient means of support for other customers.
Online forums, in which customers can seek out support for their products with other customers is common practice now. However, companies including Switzerland’s largest mobile operator Swisscom, Vodafone Germany, and DHL in Sweden are exploring this in the physical world by setting up platforms that let their brand advocates or enthusiasts offer their help to other customers. The additional help isn’t meant as a replacement of a company’s service obligations, and it isn’t a foisting off of support responsibilities. Rather, it extends support to products or encourages knowledge sharing to make the most of them.
So, here are our top 5 reasons we believe that customers helping customers is the future of customer support:
Consumers today have heightened expectations of customer service. A company’s brand can take a negative hit even when support for a product is not necessarily in their remit. Take for instance, building a piece of flat pack furniture. Every consumer knows this is the deal: the price of the flat pack is cheaper since you are required to build it. But not every customer has the time or inclination to do so. Why not offer an additional channel that lets them quickly and easily find someone who can do it for them, at a price they can agree on?
Support Customers 24/7
Consumers increasingly expect around-the-clock access to support and quick resolutions to their issues. On the positive side, they are not afraid to help themselves, nor, as it turns out are they afraid of asking help from other consumers or offering that help to others. As the success of Uber, Airbnb and Lyft show consumers are increasingly comfortable with the idea of getting help or using the assets of another consumer. Companies can use their own customer enthusiasts to provide additional support at times most convenient to the customer.
Feature-laden products are becoming more complex — and commonplace — than ever. We’re not just talking of the typical high tech products such as computers, mobile phones, and digiboxes. Daily items including thermostats, smoke alarms, and even the humble iron are being packed with more features; and are increasingly connected to the Internet. Their proper use and set can be difficult and time-consuming. Customers can help other customers set these products up and make the most of them.
Companies that have established ways for their customers to help one another have found this has stimulated sales. In the UK, big box home improvement chain B&Q runs the popular community tool-sharing platform “Streetclub”. Consumers get together, discuss DIY plans, help one another with jobs, and share tools. Did the shared tools mean a loss of sales to B&Q? No, it didn’t. In fact, sharing tools needed for one-off jobs meant consumers were willing to spend on the materials rather than putting the job off.
Your brand advocates are one of your most valuable resources. Giving them an outlet to help others — and to be paid for it — allows them to champion your products and be rewarded for it at the same time.
Manuel Grenacher is a tech serial entrepreneur from Switzerland. While completing his degree in computer sciences at the University of Applied Sciences in Windisch, he founded Coresystems – a software company offering mobile field service solutions.
Read Shep’s latest Forbes Article: The Corporate Version of Live Long and Prosper: A Tribute to Leonard Nimoy (1931-2015)
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