Want customer satisfaction? Get it as good as you give it say Thor Muller and Lane Becker, co-founders of Satisfaction, a company that aims to provide people-powered customer service for absolutely everything.
I recently sat down with them to talk about the imminent launch of their new Web service. Satisfaction aims to make it easier for customers to answer each other’s questions, solve problems, and share ideas for how to improve products and services – with or without a company’s involvement.
In your model, how are you going to make money? Is it pay-to-play?
It isn’t, actually. We plan to let customers and companies use the system for free.
We see a number of much more interesting ways to make money helping people in their search for customer satisfaction. There are some next-generation advertising models that are interesting to us, building off of Google’s huge success with advertising that aligns with its users interests, and we have a couple of other ideas about how to generate income off of people’s satisfaction (or lack thereof) with the stuff they own and want.
How are people going to know to come to your site? Is it a portal? Doesn’t the amount of help one can receive relate directly to the number and diversity of people you can get online?
Every successful community site, as far as we can tell, can best be categorized as a “six month to one year overnight success.” We think of Satisfaction not as a technology company or a service company, but really as a community company, and recognize that the really hard work comes from building that community, one person at a time.
More specifically, we have some plans for rolling out initial customer service communities around some highly targeted industries where we believe the cost to acquire customers will be very low, thanks to word of mouth and network effects.
It will ultimately be a destination resource for customer service, but we will also make the content and tools easy to embed in other sites where it may be even more valuable.
Some customers will find us through very specific Google searches around the problems they need solved. Companies that are using Satisfaction to cultivate their own customer communities will direct other people to us. Still others may find us via the company’s partners who want their customers to be get the support they need.
Is this a sign up service?
It is, in the sense that you need a user name and password to get maximum value out of the system. That said, we’re making it pretty easy to anonymously post questions and responses, though the system works much better when you have an account and accumulate information – e.g. questions and responses across multiple company communities, your participation around a variety of products and services — over time.
Will companies be invited to participate as well? I think the service part can be a real point of differentiation for companies. Won’t they want to mix it up with Satisfaction for that reason?
Company participation is definitely part of the picture. When we say our customer service is “people-powered,” we recognize that there are people working inside companies, too. There’s a very specific role for companies and their employees in Satisfaction, modeled in part after the way we’ve seen them participate in established customer communities like Mini2.com and TivoCommmunity.com.
Are you going to leverage information already existing or will you create from scratch?
A little bit of both, but mostly we’re focused on attracting passionate customers and companies to identify and create the content that matters most to them. We’re also planning to build tools to make it easier for companies to get their own info (from FAQs, for example) into the system.
When is the launch?
Any day now! Seriously, though, we hope to roll out several initial communities around a few companies in the next month.
Our initial launch is targeted on a well-established business ecosystem (to be announced) that we hope will attract involvement from many related companies and their customers. This should shorten the time to a critical mass of participants, and make Satisfaction truly indispensable to customers everywhere.