Another implication of a community [Part 1]

Every one of you probably knows examples of how online communities achieve great results. Examples of such achievements are the great amount of knowledge on Wikipedia, the accuracy of a search query on Google and the development of Linux. These businesses are greatly reliable on the community. But what if you’re, let’s say, a tech company offering software products? How can you use a community to improve your business?

Unity in the Community Logo2

Malone et al. (2010) described in ‘’The collective Intelligence Genome’’ how you can get crowds to do what your business needs done. According to the article, there are four questions behind Collective Intelligence which are; (1)What is being done, (2)Who is doing it, (3)Why are they doing it, and (4)How is it being done. Most of the examples in the article refer to marketing related implications of a community. I rather talk about a less sexy subject; customer service.

Calling a call centre is probably not one of your favourite activities. Normally you end up in a 3 minutes queue (if not more) and talk to an uninformed customer service representative who actually don’t know the answer to your, very specific and complex, question. According to Dixon et al. (2010) customers rather leave a company because of bad service, than stick to them because of good service. Furthermore, they found out that customers are searching for a simple and quick solution to their problem. Customers don’t want the bells and whistles of an over-the-top service experience.

From my point of view, a perfect way to address the needs of the customer (a simple and quick solution) and the needs of a business (decreasing customer service costs and deliver a ‘good’ service experience for the customer) is a community platform. A platform on which customers can interact with each other, ask questions and just find the answer they are looking for, even if they search via a search engine.  

A lot of companies already have a sort of online community to help other customers, such as Apple, TomTom and Barclaycard Ring. Yes, even a credit card company has launched a community platform where customers can interact and help each other solving issues. And yes, it works. Without financially rewarding customers for helping each other, they do. A superuser at TomTom (Zsolt) has posted 25.849 comments since October 16th, 2011. That is an average of >18 posts a day (, 2015)! Imagine the work (s)he has done for TomTom. Furthermore, companies have improved the first contact resolution by 70% (Skype)(, 2015) and others decreased the conversations which required an offline resolution by 17% (MoneyGram) (, 2015).

So yes, even in a less sexy subject, such as customer service, communities can help you achieve business objectives and make it easier for customers to find their answer quick and easy.

In part two I will go more in-depth about setting up a community, the drivers for customers to be so active, and other business gains you can get from the same community. If you love to see some real-world community examples, check out the links below.

Interested? Check out part 2! Another implication of a community [Part 2]


Apple community:

TomTom community:

GiffGaff community:

Lego community:

Google community:  

Kayako community:

Magento community:


Author: Ivar van der Lugt

S.I.D.: 418691il



Dixon, M., Freeman, K. and Toman, N. (2010). Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers. Harvard Business Review, 88(7/8), pp.116-122.

Lithium, (2015). Succeeding Where Others #FAIL. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Sep. 2015]., (2015). Our clients create their own success | Lithium. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Sep. 2015].

Malone, T., Laubacher, R. and Dellarocas, C. (2010). The collective intelligence genome. MITSloen Management Review, 51(3), pp.20-31., (2015). Profile of Zsolt | TomTom EN. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Sep. 2015].


3 responses to “Another implication of a community [Part 1]”

  1. gabriellapimpao says :

    I completely agree with your article that customers can many many times answer other customer’s questions/problems better than call centre employees and there is even another side to it.
    Those companies who let their users be helped out by other fellow users are putting enormous trust in their customers. Because if their brand or their products are not good enough these communities can easily backfire and start being a complain platform for unhappy users. So for me this is a sign of good confidence in the brand and in whatever the companies has to offer.
    For companies planning to start such communities I think a good piece of advise could be to include gamefication in their platforms, sometimes even the simple fact of having levels that users can achieve or rewards for activity can increase the engagement of people.
    Looking forward to the second part 🙂

  2. ivarvdlugt says :

    Hi Gabriella,

    Thanks for your reply!
    Totally true, you should really trust your customers, and your products. Transperancy is key and probably drives your company further into the right direction.

    Regarding gamification, yes, from my point of view it is one of the most important parts of the community platform. For that reason I’ve put a lot of attention to the ”Superusers” in part two (online now 🙂 ).

    You can check it out here:

    Regards, Ivar

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