Thomas W. Malone is the director of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence, and he and his researchers have been doing some tremendous research that points to the tremendous potential of Social CRM. In newly published research, the research points out that the intelligence of a group of individuals can exceed the intelligence of the individual members of the group. I recently tested this theory with a group of approximately 300 individuals who had gathered to hear me present at a conference. I posed a fairly arcane history question (“Who originally came up with the idea that there are three kinds of lies – lies, damned lies, and statistics?”). Someone knew it wasn’t Mark Twain, so then I asked that person if they knew the Hubble Constant. “The who?” Then I asked the crowd the same question, and of course someone knew it.
That is the beauty of crowds. And the even greater beauty of teams: pull together an array of smart people with good skills and you will get a result greater than the sum of the parts. Now let’s apply that to the Customer Service organization. Rather than plunking 100 or 40 or 500 customer support personnel on the phones or Chat or email support each working on their own, connect them. Allow them to share ideas, learnings, sentiments about the service process and the customer experience. Give them incentives to collaborate and improve your knowledge base.
Next comes including your customers in the collaboration. Get them involved in creating solutions, or pointing out flaws, or offering advice. Let them interact with your customer service agents.
The early results in these collaborative efforts are very encouraging, and thank you to all of you out there who have sent me examples.
The less encouraging news is that the software systems are going to have to evolve more quickly, or else we will need to continue to advise hybrid solutions.
Regardless, collective intelligence is a concept to work into your customer service strategy over the next two years.