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@Mike - most of the content in the community knowledge base saves a company time and funds that would have gone to address routine questions. The content helps bring people back to the site - being user generated, it's relevant. Thank you for the resources, I will definitely look into both.

@Linda - we can all relate to your scenario, I'm sure. In my experience, making a decision in an organization, especially a highly layered and hierarchical one (does the phone tree suggest that is the case? I think so), is at best difficult. It starts with whose decision it was to go with that, the investment already made, the systems that support it (or not), etc. My educated guess is that breaking through to provide a different experience can be a challenge.

Another way that customer service, BAD customer service, resembles groundhog day is when one calls a customer service hotline, jumps through the IVR hoops, inputting phone numbers, account numbers, selecting what branch of customer service you'd like to speak with, holding indefinitely to be met with an agent whose first question is... your phone number, your account number, why you're calling... This repetition is enough to drive an already frustrated customer away. We work with an award winning company, ciboodle, whose CRM software aims to eliminate these headaches. I mention it not simply to promote my client but also to express my personal frustration as a consumer at knowing that there is a better way and it hasn't been implemented by every company everywhere!

At Helpstream we've found a community approach to customer service can result in a 20-50% decrease in case volume. Some of this comes from customer Q&A -- in other words, customers helping customers. But as much as 40% or so of self service issue resolution comes from open access to a knowledge base. Providing customers a way to contribute content is key however because most service teams tend to be so busy working with customers, they don't have time to develop content. With the right tools you can not only capture content from customers, but also from your case system and Q&A threads. The combination of all these elements working together (community, knowledge base, and case management) is a key enabler. For more information on this topic, check out John Ragsdale's (Research director of the SSPA) Eye on Service blog -- 1) Support’s Perfect Storm Rages on, and 2) 2009 is a bad year to be a cost center. I'm certain you will find that making self service work via community collaboration is a critical ingredient to lowering cost to serve while providing an excellent customer experience.

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