Supporting the Groundswell

Throughout the textbook groundswell written by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff we have not only learnt how much time and energy must be spent within the groundswell to make it the experience for your company worth it but how that time and energy spent much be effectively utilized in order to be successful. In saying that, it shouldn’t be hard to see the several advantages that can be gained from allowing an open communication channel for your customers to interact with one another. By allowing your customers to engage with each other and share knowledge and information regarding a particular product or service greatly helps to lessen the load put on your company’s traditional support which in turn helps to reduce the cost associated with this type of support. This type of open communication as outlined by Li & Bernoff can be in the form of blogs, such as the CarePages, forums or even wikis. (Li & Bernoff, 2011)

Of course as with developing and implementing any type of a new strategy the company must put in the time to ensure that the new implementation is the right one for the company. As we all know by now, it is simply not about adapting the strategies of other successful companies but rather finding what types of strategies are best suited for your company and ultimately which strategies best help your company reach their goals. “Before you start, you should examine three things: what problem will you solve, how will you participate, and whether you should create a support community or join an existing one. (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 171) By answering these three questions it helps the company get a better understanding about what it is they are trying to achieve and how they can set out to achieve it. Once your company has gone ahead and creating a support community or tapped into an existing one it is vital that you as a company are present within it. Think of it as an opportunity to learn and grow. If you are not listening to what those participants in the support community have to say that why put the time into creating the communication with them. “This dialogue-especially with your most active customers-inevitably draws them into your development process. You end up collaborating with your customers to create better products. That’s taking the power of psychic income and building it into your business.” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 176)

Within my work experience that I have been exposed to this summer working with the GNWT at Student Financial Assistance I have been able to gain important knowledge which I could bring forward to the department. This past week was the deadline for post-secondary students to submit their applications to receive financial assistance when they head to school in the fall. Of course, as you can imagine with the extreme popularity of procrastinating this is the day we receive the most applications throughout the entire summer; over 500 applications to be exact. We have a relatively short staff within our division so we need everyone involved in order to get done what we need to get done, however with constant e-mails and calls coming into the office with students asking question after question makes it hard to do what we need to do. That’s where the open communication in the shape of a forum really gains popularity for me. If we were able to incorporate some type of support forum for students to post their questions online and allow for others to answer their inquiries it could potentially help to eliminate the high volume of phone calls that our office receives. It would also help to increase the timeliness that students would receive a response to their question due to the fact that with such a short staff we are often struggling to reply to student’s questions as quickly as we would hope too. “So take the plunge. Let your customers support each other. But you’d better be prepared for how this will change the way you do business.” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 176) Supporting the groundswell helps the groundswell continue to grow, so make sure you are putting in the effort to evolve otherwise you will simply stand still.


Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). groundswell: winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston: Harvard Business Review Press .