Have you ever encountered a problem in which your family and friends were unable to help? I bet many of us have experienced this before. In such a situation, we panic and feel frustrated as seeing no one else can offer any assistance. And there is good news for any help seeker: we can now explore avenues of support in the groundswell.
There are two ways to launch support in the groundswell: forums and wikis. In a forum, individuals serve a dual role; they can be help seeker and problem solver at the same time. Like the tradition support method, customers need to make available the details of the problems. However, under the new process, it is the customers but not the companies to provide answers to those questions.
Companies and consumers both love the idea of support forum. From the customers’ standpoint, they no longer need to take a long wait for a solution. Instead of gaining help from a single person in a company, they now can get as many helps as possible on the web. For companies, the system helps reduce the support costs significantly. It also strengthens the brand image due to less complaint from customers. Companies, like Dell and Linksys, clearly profit by the groundswell support.
Similar to consumers, companies also need support from the groundswell and they obtain the collaborative power by introducing wiki to both internal and external parties. Different from forum, wiki enables participants to get direct involvement into the development process. This, in turn, creates a win-win situation for companies and consumers.
With the groundswell support, companies can enhance their products features at a minimum cost. They may well be able to capture more market attention which brings in more sales. On the other hand, consumers are able to obtain their dreamt products. Most importantly, they are comfortable to spend money on the products because they feel valued and support given by the companies. As an example, BearingPoint is using wiki to create more business opportunities.
Yet, any form of community support doesn’t come naturally. There must be a reason that drives people to help others. This requires companies to hold the perspective of customers to look for the deeper cause—the desire of psychic income—using this element to create activities to drive traffic and links. The companies themselves must also become active participants in the community in order to make the support system work out successfully.
Li, C. & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, Massachusetts: Harvard Business Review press