An online community does not just increase an organization’s top-line revenue, but it can also reduce its bottom line-costs. This typically occurs when a community can perform an activity cheaper in the community than through existing methods. As we mentioned earlier, some top-line revenue can also appear as reduced costs. These cost reductions might include:
- Customer Support Costs. Customer support costs refer to all the costs the organization incurs to support its customers. The prime cost is the number of customer service staff required to handle questions and complaints about the product or service. The community could reduce these costs by sharing answers in the community so others can find them before calling the support line (or encouraging members to answer questions created by other members). The community may also create content which allows customer service staff to solve questions at the first attempt or answer questions faster. These activities are known as call deflection, first contact resolution, and average handling time.
- Call Deflection/Indirect Call Deflection. Call deflection (which will also include email/instant messenger deflection) occurs when the community solves a problem before the customer has contacted a customer service agent. This encompasses two varieties of deflection: direct and indirect. Direct call deflection refers to questions which were solved by other community members (e.g. if my question was answered by another community member). Indirect call deflection refers to answers people found to their question in the community and thus didn’t need to post their own question.
- First Contact Resolution. First contact resolution is the number (or percentage) of calls that a customer service agent was able to solve at the first attempt. The customer, therefore, didn’t need to call the line again. The community can help improve first contact resolution by identifying possible problems (and solutions faster). This can help prepare customer service teams for calls and questions they have not previously received. It can also highlight innovation solutions identified by other customers. This is also likely to improve the customer satisfaction score (CSAT).