Chapter 8: Helping the Groundswell Support itself



In chapter 8, Helping the Groundswell support itself, Li and Bernoff discuss how the objective of supporting is attained with the people and their behaviours (technographics) are identified and reached out to. The difference between traditional support and groundswell support is also discussed. Traditional support is an effective way of helping customers, though it can be pricey. Groundswell estimates an average call to cost an organization’s call centre is between $6 and $7 dollars. Technical support calls cost between $1o and $20 dollars.  This is where helping the Groundswell support itself shines. The groundswell support provides a less expensive and more effective alternative, through online forums such as wikis or Q & A website. Two trends that can decrease support costs are:

  • Web self- service revolution- companies send direct customers to their website which contains an immense amount of product and problem solving information.
  • Outsourcing– directing support calls abroad.

When creating communities for support, Li and Bernoff advised the following:

  1. Start small, but plan for a larger presence- Understand your customers and work around your product before expanding your presence to support other products.
  2. Reach out to your most active customers- Engaging with customers or celebrity customers on how they would prefer to participate. This advise is trusted since it is not coming from a company.
  3. Have a marketing plan to drive traffic to your community- advertise on websites where most of your customers visit.
  4. Build in a reputation system- Encourage users to engage and behave appropriately.
  5. Let your customers lead you- Customers will advise you on how the community should be run through criticism, requests, suggestions and evaluation.

(Li & Bernoff, 2011, p.161).

Star Wars is very old but still very famous in books, comic books, movies and characters. Their wikipedia is called Wookieepedia. Wikis provide clients with information on what they are looking for,  to make changes. Money can be made from wikis to the leads they provide. However, wikis and communities rules are difficult to create. There has to be strict control so that there is no offence to users. For example Instagram was in hot water for not allowing pictures of women with period stains, or women with hair in areas that are typically shaved. Hence, controlling such commentates is risky.


Li, C., Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technology. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.



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