Customer Experience News & Trends

Peer-to-peer communities: 6 ways to make them your best customer service tool

The best person to help a customer in need may not be one of your employees. 

A fellow customer may provide a better experience.

As social media use soars, peer-to-peer support does, too. In fact, community peer-to-peer support is expected to replace almost 40% of existing phone support, according to an Accenture report.

Peer-to-peer communities allow customers to share ideas, ask questions and get answers from people using the same products and services as them.

“These communities can grow naturally,” says Paul Johns, CMO of Conversocial, “as long as they’re useful. You want to make sure things are resolved, not just discussed.”

Although customers tend to drive peer-to-peer communities, companies want a customer service professional at least monitoring activity so they’re sure questions get answered and exchanges remain appropriate, Johns said.

Get the right people

Follow these best practices for establishing and maintaining a peer-to-peer community:

  • Recruit. Although communities are less defined than traditional customer service channels, you still want to keep it professional. Johns recommends creating a profile that includes customers who you recognize in social media and interactions as articulate, respectful, fair and understanding.
  • Invite them to be a part of the community via an email or tweet, and include a link to sign up for a platform they can use online and on mobile devices.
  • Monitor. Ask customers who pose questions or seek advice to rate the customers who give them answers. Also, keep track of their expertise and try to send them questions on those subjects.
  • Train. Share best practices with the community. Send URL links to webcasts and relevant industry news that they’d find interesting or helpful in answering other customers’ questions. Show them some scripted responses so they can establish a good tone of voice, but don’t expect them to follow scripts. Peer help is more authentic and appreciated when it’s not scripted, Johns said.
  • Reward. Some companies set up rewards systems that give peers points for answering other customers’ questions. Then they can turn those points in for products.
  • Cut ties. If a customer expert doesn’t work out as well as expected, or just doesn’t participate as much as you had expected, keep them out of the queue for receiving questions.

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