Australian carriers have all created online support forums that invite existing customers to help out with customer support. People post their questions relating to service issues, technical problems, billing concerns and all sort of left of field problems. And savvy customers chip in with their knowledge and experience to help the paid support staff in answering these questions.
Telstra, Optus and Vodafone all launched these forums over the past year and seem to host thriving communities.
But keeping the forums genuinely useful can be tricky. Carriers must watch out against misinformation by over enthusiastic contributors, without putting people off. And how would you cope with angry users venting loudly in a public forum? While it is a great strategy to build engagement and save costs, it is a double edged sword.
For smaller carriers like Virgin and iiNet Whirlpool continues to act as a public customer support service.
We found Telstra forums to be the best designed even though they have a much wider suite of services. Vodafone was the worst with poorly categorized content and shoddy search results.
Have you had an experience with resolving an issue through these forums?