a crowd of cranes

Crowdsourcing support for your product or service used to mean getting your customers together online and engaging them to exchange solutions and advice via forums or discussion boards.

While that model is still viable and used by many organizations today, a Swiss company is taking crowdsourcing to new heights.

Manuel Grenacher
With an aim to make support for brands more efficient and cost effective, Mila’s online marketplace also engages the local community to help brands build trust, said the company’s CEO, Manuel Grenacher.

“In my view, the most value from crowdsourcing is going into a real-time, on-demand world where service is quick, but personalized,” he said. “Getting service from someone personalized to you – whether through age or skills – and getting it locally builds trust. It’s the perfect match.”

How It Works

With Mila.com, large companies can extend their support services by letting their customers find and book local experts to help them solve customer support issues. 

The platform offers large businesses a branded site through which they can offer services such as technical support, installation or consulting from prescreened providers. Customers can book and pay for services through the platform, as well as see ratings and reviews.

For example, Swisscom – the largest Swiss telecommunications provider – uses Mila to integrate services into their portfolio, said Grenacher. Through their “Swisscom Friends” community, they offer services such as installation of routers and wireless equipment from vetted providers.

Mila Screenshot

Crowdsourcing Tips

For companies considering implementing crowdsourcing services, but still have doubts about moving forward, Grenacher offers some things to think about.

1. Clarify the legal requirements

“You can’t offer everything by peer to peer,” he said. “You need to think about how people are insured, or whether they need approval to offer certain services.”

He added that, thanks to companies like Uber and Airbnb, it’s now easier for businesses to navigate through this process.

2. Think about how to drive traffic to your site

“It’s easy to find those people who can help with support, onboard them and build their profile,” said Grenacher. “But to bring the traffic to those people is hard. You need to think about how to deeply integrate this kind of support into your customer service touchpoints.”

3. Build your community

“Most companies don’t consider that if you build a crowd-sourced service, you also need to build the community around it,” he said. “Engage with them. Do events with them. Large companies usually struggle with this.”

Allocating people to manage the community is one way to ensure that the community aspect is addressed and nurtured, he said.

Grenacher added that many companies make the mistake of viewing crowdsourcing as simply farming work out to external providers.

“Crowdsourcing is not outsourcing,” he said. “It’s a community.”

4. Talk with others about crowdsourcing

Grenacher’s final recommendation is to connect with other companies that are sharing information and advice about crowdsourcing through sites like Crowd Companies and Crowdsourcing Week.

“Every statistic shows that people really want this kind of collaborative service,” he said. “Join a council, visit Crowdsourcing Week, and find out what it is going on. Get inspired.”

The Future of Crowdsourcing

So, how does Grenacher view the future of crowdsourcing?

“I can only see more and more brands thinking about how they can enable crowdsourcing or the collaborative economy before they are disrupted by startups,” said Grenacher.

“Every large company needs to find a way to empower their existing customer base to go into this new world; otherwise, someone else will do it.”

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  Title image by uzi yachin.