Imagine an army of loyal, excited, eager customer support reps scouring the Internet putting out support fires, defending your reputation and solving customer issues…better yet, image that they work for FREE! Is such a thing possible? Yes it is – in four simple to explain steps!
Doing business well means leading well, so this is a leadership challenge. I hope to help you with your customer support issues by showing you how we do it every day in our business.
Before we reveal the four steps of crowdsourcing your customer support, first I have a couple of facts:
Fact one: If you have customers then you are going to need online and social customer support – this means you have to be EVERYWHERE that your customers are. Sound daunting? That’s because it IS! This recent article on Upwork explains Social Customer Service quite well.
Fact two: Either YOU can do your OWN customer support very well by being everywhere, or someone else is going to have to do it well for you. There is no third option. The underlying assumption here is that if your customer support stinks, you’ll struggle and your reputation will be damaged very quickly. This is the path to disaster.Is it possible however to have an army of unpaid advocates like I described above? Does this sound impossible? It’s not. We are doing it in our business, and many other companies are as well. (Amazon and Zappos come to mind instantly as two other great examples.)
I’ll tell you how we’ve done it.
You see, there’s a fantastic phenomenon in our community. When I say “our community” I’m talking about the 250,000+ or so people in the online community that my leadership/support team and I have built over the past decade or so. We’ve sold books, courses, products or training to hundreds of thousands in that time frame.
Not to brag, but we are doing something right as evidenced by the fact that our community has exploded in size, but our customer support runs smooth as silk day in and day out with basically just two people working it full-time and a handful more part-time when they “feel like it.” The fact is, we’ve CROWD SOURCED the vast majority of our customer support!
To the untrained eye it might look like some mystical mind control that we have over a large army of fans and followers who not only “like” our products and services, but they answer questions for us and advocate for our products and services. These champion advocates actually engage with prospects on our behalf!
Some might even think we are gaming the system somehow and accuse us of having set up thousands of fake Facebook followers and twitter accounts that all praise our products and offers all over the web – into even the deepest corners of discussion forums we’ve never visited ourselves…
…but that’s just not the case. It’s all legit.
For example, when my latest book launched we had hundreds in our community instantly and eagerly jump on a Facebook thread and excitedly agree to help spread the word about the launch promotion. The book rose rapidly in the Amazon best seller ranks and spent several days at number one in multiple categories.
Another example, when someone pops into our community (or pops up pretty much anywhere online in any venue) and has something potentially negative or even NEUTRAL to say about our products or services, or they have a question about any detail of our products or offers, something very interesting happens as our “crowd sourced support team” leaps into action.
Inevitably those asking questions or seeking support are met with a positive wave of corrective and supportive feedback – not from my paid staff and I, but from our COMMUNITY of CUSTOMERS!
Is there something nefarious in our business plan that manipulates our followers into such a state of willing support roles?
- Is this some sort of mind control? No.
- Is this manipulation of the system somehow? No.
- Do we pay people to say nice stuff about us? Sort of…and that’s the secret.
Here’s the secret in more detail:
When selling online the secret of “winning the crowd” and then “crowdsourcing” your support lies in the concept of risk reversal and over delivery.
Stated differently, thanks to he pace at which “good news” and “bad news” travel online, it now makes economic sense to be irrationally generous with product detail and quality as well as refund policies and overall customer experience.
With that in mind, we’ve removed all possible risks of doing business with us to the extent that WE clearly retain ALL of the risk of the transaction. We make our products appeal so precisely to our target audience that it all feels PERFECT to the right customers. All that’s left for our customers to experience is either an overwhelmingly positive experience, or a rapid refund that leaves them better than we found them (yes, we use that language in our business every day).
Is it expensive to do business this way? Yes it is, but consider the alternative. Generous risk reversal is nowhere near as expensive as having your reputation dragged around the internet getting muddied by mobs of unhappy clients who had to argue for a refund they never got, or claiming your under-delivered.
Are you ready to “crowd source” your customer support? Here are the steps to follow:
1) Only make great stuff and be in the “INFORMATION” business.
Create products and services that are so narrow and focused for your perfect customers that they’ll feel like you are in their head reading their mind. Be the go to source of expert advice and content in that niche. What is “quality content” you might ask? It’s the stuff that your audience would gladly pay you for, but you give it away. Give them something to talk about.
2) Be irrationally generous.
Your product quality, follow up and refund policies must prevent the possibility of an unhappy client/customer from ever happening.
3) Create a community and be available.
Give your customers a place to gather and openly discuss ideas related to your products. Be easy to contact and be transparent. Reward your biggest advocates with positions of responsibility and leadership.
4) Create advocates.
Fans and followers are nice (yawn), but ADVOCATES are the goal. Interact, problem solve, take suggestions, and turn doubters into raving advocates of your brand and message. Time and consistency build trust. Do the first three steps right for a long time, and you’ve arrived.
Your customer support is now crowd sourced!
If all this sounds like a rough road, that’s probably because it is, but going out of business is harder I’ve heard.