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Thanks for your reply Valeria.

I do indeed happen to be the founder of a company that sells software in this space. In addition to living and breathing this stuff for many years now, I am also one of those "high maintenance" consumers with not enough time in the day and no tolerance for poor customer care.

I understand that your article was about the "why" and my comment was just intending to get people to think about the "how" and why it matters so much.

Bests, Chuck

@Community - The last comment was brought to you by a representative of a company that has a technology that allegedly does the very things the comment is about.

@Chuck - you are welcome here. And yes, your comment is on point in terms of having a strong back end system that manages work flows so that inquiries get timely responses. There are many companies that offer good technologies -- Lithium, Jive Software, Telligent for the enterprise, and more. The role of Community Manager and of the company is paramount in this sense. It's important to note that the post answered the "why" vs. the "how" question.

Customer communities can certainly provide a lot of value and save companies tons of money in support costs.

However, most of these communities do not include the infrastructure required to ensure that questions get timely answers and many questions remain unanswered entirely. When this happens, the consumer not getting their question answered does not blame the community, they rightfully blame the brand for offloading their support responsibilities.

For communities to be effective in providing answers: the technology used to support them must allow active management of unanswered questions and they must clearly and consistently recognize the people providing the right answers. They also need to include search engines that quickly get people to desired content and help stop repetitive questions from being asked. When questions do not get answered within acceptable and established service levels, the questioner should be able to proactively call upon relevant subject matter experts for help with the eventual escalation to support staff as necessary.

A 2010 study by 80Legs found that 72 percent of topic threads asking a question had no resolution. Pretty bad!

I totally agree that the ultimate success of support communities will come down to the community members, but without the proper technology in place to adequately manage things, its unlikely that the community will realistically provide sustainable value as a support alternative.

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