Many businesses would love to reduce customer vents for technical issues, but have struggled to find a solution. These businesses have moved it offshore to countries like India to manage it cheaply and efficiently. However, the dialect has annoyed many customers who have bought these brands. So what other solutions are there to this problem?
I recently came across an article called “Outsourcing is so last year” at the Economist. The author refers to this solution as “Unsourcing”, I prefer “Insourcing” or “Netsourcing”. The solution isn’t new, as it began in the 1980’s but in today’s times it’s a revelation to managers. Some brands in software, consumer electronics and telecoms are offering expert advice at a fraction of the costs that these cheap nations supply.
The basic concept is that the business sets up an online community to enable person-to-person support among users.
Businesses use websites or social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to form these communities. The people who use the brand solve the customer’s problem. Generally these helpers are not paid.
Tom Tom, the maker of satellite-navigation systems, saved $150,000 in its first two weeks. It’s estimated these communities can reduce costs by up to 50%.
Some businesses reward these prized fans by giving them rankings for solving the problems. This helps in boosting their community status. While a telecom business reduced monthly phone bills for clients when they helped other clients and recruited new customers.
These communities could be monitored by technical support and customer service staff. This is to aid in company relations and rewarding these super fans through loyalty programs. While anything to do with personal customer accounts and billing needs to be diverted to another channel.
The temptation for most businesses to switch to this solution due to costs will be too hard to resist. While the added benefit for making it harder for customers to vent is all to appealing. The greatest concern will be the unsuccessful deployment that will send a wave of criticism to the business due to the lack of preparation and planning. Would your business consider this solution of online community person-to-person user support? What ways do you think you could improve on the reward system? Do you think this solution is a way of reducing customer vents for technical support?
Related and contributing article
- Outsourcing is so last year (economist.com)