Customer Service operations have undergone some heavy changes in the last few years. To save money, many call centers have been moved offshore and self-service Websites allow users to tackle mundane tasks like ordering, paying bills and checking statements.
CrowdEngineering believe that the Social Web is bringing a new wave of disruption to the way customers get help. Their CrowdForce platform is already helping telecommunications companies to crowdsource assistance from distributed online communities and is delivering real value. In one year they raised 100k community members, managed over 500k support requests and reduced support costs by $3M.
Customers Looking for Help
When people experiences problems, they will often turn to Google, their friends or to online communities to look for solutions. This is a great opportunity for companies to reach out, connect with their customers and proactively solve their problems in these online places.
Forums and services like GetSatisfaction are established tools for customer support. What's different about the CrowdEngineering approach is that it invites community members and existing customers to support other customers for rewards. The CrowdForce platform technology facilitates support across many different sites and services like, Facebook, Twitter, MSN, Skype, SMS and Email as well as integration into a company's backend business processes.
Community members are rewarded for their participation with points. Like most of these models, points can be exchanged for things that the users value such as service discounts and accessories. Many teenagers, for example, are very happy to exchange their time and expertise for call credit, ring tones, or mobile phone accessories.
The CrowdForce platform uses a skills database and skills-based routing to match requests with community members when their online presence is detected at their preferred Website. If a contributor decides they can help, they accept the request and will be rewarded once complete. If tasks accepted but never completed, they will time out and be reallocated. If requests go unanswered for too long, they can be escalated to higher skilled specialists or even contractors to ensure that responses are delivered within service level agreements.
With a clever arsenal of Website widgets and applications, integration work can be kept to a minimum. Behind the scenes, a toolbox of business processes can be tailored to integrate with backend systems for monitoring and reporting.
Filtering requests collected from multiple sources allows CrowdForce to spot duplicates. Sudden avalanches of tweets or messages reporting that "XYZ is down" are all too common and can often be the first sign of a pandemic problem.
It can be handy to have an army of loyal customers easily contactable and willing to assist. There are many scenarios where they can help: beta testing, monitoring quality of service or referral programs and product promotion.
Triangle of Happiness
According to CEO Gioacchino La Vecchia, by harnessing online communities to support customers, companies are realizing a "triangle of happiness":
- Happy customers who like to be engaged online where they are discussing their problems.
- Happy contributors who like the rewards they receive in exchange for assistance given.
- And happy companies who are reducing support costs and delighting their customers.
CrowdEngineering was founded in 2008 with seed funding and targeted trials in the telecommunications industry in 2009. The CrowdForce platform has recently come out of stealth mode and has also been applied to the banking and manufacturing sectors.