Citizen Customer Service

In the last ten or fifteen years, more and more citizens have been motivated to help others, assert their authority, share opinions, and be generous with their knowledge, wisdom and ideas. Because of this, it’s quite possible that the era of a “full technical support staff” is over. No longer can these departments hold on to the answers to service issues and complex problems.

The internet destroys that model because of the two monumental functions it provides:

Companies big and small have responded to this shift by developing what I call “citizen customer service.” Citizen customer service is about companies enlisting their own customers to handle the sometimes complex questions and service issues raised by other customers.

Technology companies like WordPress and Verizon have the vast majority of customer inquiries handled by other customers. Apple customers on the other hand, handle virtually 100% of the inquiries, while only using its own service employees when necessary to ensure quality.

Here’s why I think it’s becoming so popular:

  1. The ultimate goal of customer service.  Is to change feelings, not the facts. Most employees are taught to care about the facts, citizens naturally care about the feelings.
  2. No hidden agenda. Most companies customer service protocol is built around stall, deny, begrudge and finally, to the few who persist, they might save money, but it is a total failure. Citizen customer service has no agenda to save the company money, only to solve the problem.
  3. It provides the best measurement. Which is, after the interaction, would the customer recommend that business to a friend. With a community of generous problem-solvers the likelihood that your problem gets solved is great. Which makes you come back with your friends when looking for more help.

The end result is that citizens are in fact creating billions of dollars’ worth of time savings, entertainment, instruction, new information, and knowledge. With that being said, I’m interested to see how some of these customer service citizens will use this platform to positions themselves for more opportunities. Even including ways to monetize and build brand equity as well.

Question: Have you offered your advice or opinion in one of these communities? 

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