Crowdsourcing Customer Service Engages a Community

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The first goal of the crowdsourcing platform was to improve communications, but NAASF soon knew the value of using crowdsourced information for problem-solving.

Crowdsourcing for Advocacy and Education

The community platform allows us to understand the issues that are important to our members and respond with education and advocacy.

As restaurateurs, many of our franchisees are small business owners who don’t have the time or inclination to be experts on government policy and regulations. When we saw many requests for information on how minimum-wage changes would affect their business, we offered a webinar hosted by an expert that provided a clear overview of the issues.

Similarly, when the Affordable Care Act was being Implemented, we saw many discussions about how and when it would affect members’ businesses and how they could calculate the financial impact. In response, we offered a webinar and other educational events that many members considered invaluable.

Also, after every webinar, we use our online community to share further information and foster continuing discussions about the topics, increasing the reach of our educational efforts.

Crowdsourcing for Polling the Community

A final way we crowdsource valuable information from the community is through a polling capability built into the Higher Logic platform. We regularly poll our members on advertising strategy and other association-related questions. The response rates typically show percents in the high teens or low 20s, but they have been as high as 40 percent. This demonstrates extraordinary engagement by our community.

Every association tries to find new ways to provide value to its members, and in just 18 months our community has become a vital NAASF membership benefit. During a recent membership drive, for example, we sent out an e-communication about access to the community and immediately received a flurry of renewals.

Through crowdsourcing, we have become a true participatory community. The more our members participate, the more value we can provide to them, which encourages even greater participation.

Where once our organization was spread out all over North America—and communicated via a series of town hall meetings, email and a static website—our online community is now a communications and educational hub. This hub directly connects our members and enables us to fulfill our mission more effectively.

Illya Berecz is executive director of NAASF. She joined the organization as communications director in 2000 and was named its executive director in 2008. Before that, she managed communications for Subway corporate in its advertising and marketing department.

This article was originally published on 2016-10-06
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