This week we sat down with Mat Munro, Conversocial's VP of Product, to discuss how companies can extend the reach of their forums and communities by enabling their most dedicated customers to resolve their peers’ issues on social.
Read below for a transcript, or watch the video above.
What problem does CROWDS™ solve?
I think that traditionally, for a very long period of time, companies have associated the idea of community with forums. These two words are effectively used interchangeably because the forum has been the only platform that companies have had available to them to actually leverage a group of people who are impassioned about what they do and want to contribute on a brand's behalf. CROWDS™ allows that community to extend beyond the borders of the forum to reach out into social channels and engage with a company's customers where they are, as opposed to forcing them to come to them on a forum.
What does the rise of peer to peer social mean for traditional forums?
With CROWDS™ we're not suggesting that the forums are going anywhere. I think the use of forms is still a very much an active medium. There is a group of customers who like to self-serve. The archive of information that sits within forums is always going to be incredibly powerful for that user base. I think there's also a growing and increasing community or group of customers that are looking to have real conversations and are also looking to have those conversations on the platform of their choice.
Instead of coming to a walled garden that's owned by any given brand, they'd rather sit on a company agnostic platform like Facebook or Twitter and engage with the companies that they're customers of from there. I think that that's a behavior that we're going to see growing, and whatever the channel is, whatever the medium, whether that is a wall post, or a Tweet or a message through Facebook Messenger, the fundamental shift is empowering consumers to choose their own medium of communication. What we do with CROWDS™ is try to gather in those mediums into one place so that we can put them in front of your community, in the same way that you were doing previously with forms, but there you were gathering the customers into one place.
How can peer to peer resolution on social benefit the Contact Center?
I think there a number of ways that CROWDS™ can benefit the wider contact center. Financially there is an opportunity there to make operational savings; whether that is deflecting issues from agents—every issue that's handled by a customer is one that agent potentially doesn't need to deal with themselves.
If you have a multinational organization you may only offer official customer support in one, two, three languages but you may have a community base that stretches across dozens of languages. By using CROWDS™ you can actually put that community in front of customers in those languages.
I think there's also a reputational element to it as well. When you message a brand the expectation is that you would receive customer service, and you would expect to be treated in a certain way. But what if in seeking that assistance you actually receive help from another customer, someone who's just like you but is just so impassioned about and so believes so deeply in what the company is doing that they're willing to spend their time and effort engaging on that company's behalf? I think it's a real human voice, and it really lends power to the brand’s position in the eyes of the end customer.
How have you seen brands motivate their Crowd Experts?
Motivation for experts on CROWDS™ is pretty varied. We have spent quite a lot of time talking with the members of the communities across our implementations. I would say that really the users all fall into three camps:
1. You have the users for whom this company is a guiding light and they are just so passionate, and they do believe in it so strongly that their motivation really is just to help their fellow customer. It really is an altruistic motivation.
2.There are other users who believe in what the company is doing, but maybe their activity, maybe the help that they're offering the community is motivated or endorsed by some kind of community engagement program, and that can run the gamut from real world rewards through to elements of gamification, badges, status, and leaderboards.
3. The third group is probably somewhere in between on those first two, but they almost come off on another axis, and that is that they are interested in building out their personal brands. One of the strengths of CROWDS™ is that the responses are coming from a person who is an individual. So obviously if you’re interested in raising your profile, gaining reputation as an expert within a given field or area, the fact that you can use CROWDS™ to find customers in need and offer them assistance from you as a personal brand is a great way to grow that reputation.
So how does CROWDS™ work?
There are really two parties that engage on traditional forums. There's the experts, who are sort of these gurus. From talking to them we understood that they really liked the forum experience. And that makes a lot of sense. They get to sort of sit in one place and people come to them seeking knowledge.
Really what we're trying to do with CROWDS™ is to give the community experts that single destination, but maybe take out some of the pain and effort on the part of the end customer. Rather than making the customer come to the expert to seek their knowledge, the customer sits on the platform that they want to sit on. We use advanced searches and routing in order to find those customers and their issues, and put them in front of the relevant experts. Both parties can use a platform of their choice—CROWDS™ is providing the layer in between that allows that communication, and that conversation to take place.