More so than for any other department within your company, taking advantage of the social in customer support requires that your organization be allowed to behave social as well. The reason for that is twofold – people will seek help from others about your products in a variety of places, not just your customer support community; and people want to be helped by people, not faceless organizations.
While it may seem obvious that customer would seek support for your products in your customer support community, in reality they will look for it across a multitude of sites. That is especially true for products that have complex distribution channels. When you have a problem with your shiny new Canon lens, do you look for help on Canon.com, Bestbuy.com, Amazon.com or GetSatisfaction.com? Or do you turn to your independent photography enthusiast community, or maybe a photography Facebook group you belong to? If you truly want to support your customers, you need to empower your employees to engage those people where they are. Sometimes that is your site, sometimes it is all over the place, and sometimes it’s on a focused destination that you did not set up. That was the case with TiVo, where a vibrant TiVo customer support community was set up by users and ran independently from the company. Tivo did not try to set up their own customer community and lure people away, which many companies would have attempted in the name of controllable knowledge management – i.e., access to people’s profile, ability to mine the content, ability to generate reports, etc. They engaged where people were already hanging out, and turned the existing community into a real competitive advantage. They realized that in order to take advantage of the social in customer support you need to behave social yourself.