Chapter 8 – Helping the Groundswell Support Itself

Traditional support = 

  • views supporting customers as a burden
  • upon purchase, the company doesn’t want to hear from you
  • direct inquires to outsourced services

Groundswell support =

  • support comes from each other
  • Ex: Dell
    • answers questions with support forums using several members of the community
    • people participate simply for gratitude

Forums provide a great way for a community to get involved. Not only does this help the consumer, but also call centres will be receiving a lot less calls this way. Not only do people use support forums to help with whatever inquires they may have or look for answers,  a “fan phenomena” develops when people share the same passion. In May 2007, people took this passion for the TV show Jericho to send $50,000 to the producers of the show, supporting this television series by creating a loyal and passionate community. An example of one of the community forums that was created for this show can be found here. 


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Necessary components to create a successful wiki:

  1. People – individuals with a common interest in contributing
  2. Content – develop more than just a discussion forum.
    1. Ex: eBay had it rules for buying and selling
  3. Patience & Policy – need to ensure rules are grounded in order to upkeep integrity

Throughout the chapter, several case studies are examined of different organizations and how they approach what applications will work best for them. It is important that an company examine three things when looking into the how the groundswell will support itself:

  1. What problem will you solve
    1. if you are creating a wiki, forum, or other community support, ask yourself ” why will people participate?”
  2. How will you participate
    1. be active with the participants, an example can again be referred to the Jericho television show and how the producers got involved.
  3. Whether you should create a support community or join an existing one
    1. A company having their own posts creates more attention, however, if an existing community is present, consider joining, sponsoring, or developing some relationship with it.

If the choice is to go forward with the third step, there are a few suggestions on what to do next:

  • Start small, but plan for larger presences
  • Reach out to your most active customers
  • Plan to drive traffic to your community
  • Build in a reputation system
  • Let your customers lead you

It is important in any organization to analyze the different dynamics that impact which route they should pursue. In the HR field, they play a key role in defining the policies for wikis and they need to ensure no unwanted content is being given and filter out unnecessary information. They are also in charge of the content they want to be seen, so it is important that they stay education on any content that may breach this.

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell. Massachusetts: Harvard School Business Publishing.


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