Telstra a Telco in Australia announced this week that they would be seeking advice from their customers about how to resolve their poor customer service record.
In 2008-09, 104,000 Telstra users complained to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman and 30,000 Optus users. In 2007-08, there were 51,000 Telstra complaints and 23,000 by Optus users.
Those who sign up to the My Telstra Experience program will be asked to do online surveys and participate in online discussion forums on existing and new Telstra products.
This is all good stuff, customer participation is valuable, but surveys and online discussions are pretty standard features now days. Given the severity of the situation a bold move could be the answer.
So how could CrowdSourced Customer Support become apart of an organisations service delivery in a way that adds value to all parties?
I'm sure that even with their poor record Telstra will have many many long time customers who use a variety of Telstra services, all with plenty of knowledge and perhaps a few minuets everyday to login and check what questions they can answer. I'm thinking something similar to the Linkedin Questions and Answers feature, but with smart keyword recognition to pick up repeated questions
Of course you'll have to mix in specialized, technical in house support and have a way to push private issues through to a helpdesk like Zendesk.com for resolution and call backs but overall I think CrowdSourced support could dramatically deflect many of the time consuming questions customers ask that other customers already know away from your Support team.
Every time you answer a question and the customer marks that question as being solved by you, you should receive a point. Most points wins at the end of the month, where those people taking the bulk of the questions could be reimbursed in cash, gifts or discounted services to make it worth their while.
Community support is widely used by many company's to great effect using applications like GetSatisfaction.com, UserVoice.com, FixYa.com and Zendesk actively uses its forums to engage clients and encourage users to submit custom code/widgets help each other out.
What a BUZZ this could create for Telstra, all their customers discussing which plan is best for them, how to get modems installed and troubleshooting those simple, niggly bugs that crop up now and then. Not just that but the idea sharing and relationship building those people will partake in while solving problems. That could create some good vibes, It could actually be fun to submit a request, just to see who answers it.
A community portal of this nature could really strengthen and unite customers around Telstra. Imagine the chaos at a Rugby League game when a customers question pops up on the big screen - first one to text in the answer wins! Its a simple way to make sure your customers get to know you.
So reward for crowdsourced support, back it up with technical in house knowledge, a simple, intuitive, functional website and an active bunch of customers connecting the dots and I think you have the recipe for engaged customers, lower fixed costs and a more agile company
What do you think? Could you do something like this in your business? Would you be happy submitting questions to a community?