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Social Customer Service Thru the Power of the Crowd

 A recent GigaOM article titled “How can we provide better customer service? Create software that lets customers serve each other” caught our attention

Since CrowdEngineering’s focus is providing customer service by customers, for customers”, this article by software analyst Ashley Verrill resonated with us and we were happy to read her conclusion that  ”empowering most enthusiastic customers to respond” is a smart biz move: helps companies and customers alike.

Ashley’s passion on the topic inspired us to reach out to her and invite her to contribute a guest post for our blog. Her contributed article follows below. We liked what Ashley had to say and hope you do too…Let us know what YOU think!

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The Social Customer Service Software of the Future: Leveraging the Power of the Crowd

By Ashley Verrill
Analyst, Software Advice and Managing Editor, Customer Service Investigator 

Last year, I conducted a research project where I tested the social responsiveness of 14 of the nation’s top consumer brands. At the time, I was starting to notice customers increasingly using social customer service, so I wanted to know how well these companies were reacting to the trend. What I discovered was a little shocking.

Companies such as Coca-Cola, Starbucks and Pepsi responded to our messages just 14 percent of the time on average. This is a big problem when you consider more than half of Twitter users expect a personal response within two hours of sending a question or complaint.

Was this a failure in technology, or culture? Probably a bit of both.
I review customer service technology on a daily basis and so either way, it gave some ideas for how social customer service could evolve into the future.

 

The Value of Social Response Will Continue to Grow

Every time someone mentions your brand on Pinterest, Linkedin, Facebook or another social channel, it creates an instant opportunity to start a conversation. The more a brand can foster these engagements the better, as this is essentially marketing for your brand.

“Customers are interested in marketing, but they don’t believe what your company says about itself unless it matches what they and their friends say about you,” best-selling author and customer-service thought leader Micah Solomon told me recently. 

In other words, social customer service will become more than just providing another channel for customers to get their questions answered. It will be seen as means for producing natural, positive word-of-mouth marketing. The more companies realize this value, the more they will prioritize their response.

Technology for Filtering Out Social Customer Service Messages Will Improve

As more companies see the value in this response, the technologies for enabling these conversations will improve.

Most popular customer service applications are designed to enable employees to respond to requests sent on Twitter, Facebook and other social channels. They use social listening technology and keyword identifiers to categorize service-related messages and route them to a company-employed customer-service agent.

Currently, companies must meticulously program these services so that they find the right messages, at the right time. This can include listening for combinations of the brand name and “angry,” “mad,” “broken,” and the like. Companies can also choose to prioritize these tweets and updates based on the sentiment of the message and influence of the sender.

In the future, the modifications needed for this kind of filtering will be cheaper and more easily changed, in real-time if needed (if there is a PR crisis, for example). Additionally, they will enable users to route messages to people other than employees, which brings me to my next point: crowdsourcing questions to customer community users.

Companies Will Crowdsource Social Support to the Customer Communities

As I mentioned previously, companies can generate positive word of mouth by providing customer service on social media. But these conversations can be even more valuable and authentic if they come from people other than actual employees. Not only that, but companies can also better scale their response if they channel the power of the crowd.

So to whom would they crowdsource the response?   Customer community users.

Existing, active community members (or people that respond to questions in company-run discussion forums) can be the perfect candidates to respond for companies on social media for two reasons: For one, they’re already enthusiastic about your products and can therefore be good brand ambassadors; and two, they’ve proven their zeal for answering questions from other customers already.

The social customer service software of the future would essentially empower community users to respond to questions about a brand on social media (in addition to the community that exists already).

This hypothetical technology could still leverage all of the tools that make communities so effective – things like gamification and automated alerts. Also, social listening tools could filter out messages that would be better suited for an employee response. This could include messages from customers that are particularly angry, or questions that would require a technical expert.

What Do You See in The Future?

All of these changes are contingent on companies shifting the way they think about social media — from a platform for telling the world why they should like them, to a channel for listening and responding to what the world wants.

Ashley Verrill is an analyst for Software Advice, as well as the Managing Editor for the Customer Service Investigator blog. She has spent the last six years reporting and writing business news and strategy features. Her work has been featured or cited in Inc., Forbes, Business Insider, GigaOM, CIO.com, Yahoo News, the Upstart Business Journal, the Austin Business Journal and the North Bay Business Journal, among others. She also produces original research-based reports and video content with industry experts and thought leaders.

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Posted in Industry News, Newsroom

Top 5 Trends in Customer Service Today

Top 5 Trends in Customer Service Today

(Or The State of Online Customer Service in Dollars & Sense)

At CrowdEngineering, our daily obsession is providing and improving our flagship product: Crowd4Care™ — a comprehensive social care solution that helps enterprises build, manage & provide crowdsourced customer service to & thru their customers.

While our company is singularly focused on Social CRM solutions that leverage the knowledge and participation of crowds of customers, many other vendors have alternative offerings to address the needs of the $165 billion customer service market.

The folks over at salesforce.com have done a great service (for those of us that care about social customer service by putting together a compelling Slideshare deck titled “50 Facts That Will Make Businesses Rethink Their Customer Service.” 

With only a hint of a plug for its desk.com customer support application, salesforce.com’s presentation is perhaps the best single compendium of 3rd-party factoids supporting the need for quality care, and #SCRM —  bringing together an informative collection of what it describes as “cold, hard facts that might persuade you to rethink how you run your organization’s customer service.”

Reviewing those facts leads us to our a list of our own…

CrowdEngineering’s Top 5 Trends in Customer Service Today:

      1)  Customer support through conventional call centers isn’t enough anymore

     2)  There is strong demand for social customer support

    3)  The state of current online customer support is disappointing

    4)  There’s great potential and business value in providing quality social customer service

    5)  Companies must make customer experience & retention a priority. Invest in systems & processes to meet that priority

While we encourage you to check out this complete list of the 50 facts on the desk.com blog, a dozen data points stand out for us as solid documentation of what we see as the Top 5 Trends in Customer Service Today.

Here’s a selection of the desk.com facts (and their sources) re-organized to support what we see as the most significant current trends in customer service, engagement experience and retention: 

Phone support isn’t enough anymore: 

85% of consumers are dissatisfied with their phone experience.
Gartner

69% of customers said they were on hold for too long when seeking help from a company.
Harris Interactive, Customer Experience Impact Report

Online Customer Service Needs to Improve:

94% of all online retailers provide email customer service but 27% of email inquiries are answered incorrectly.
Zak Stambor, “Internet Retailer,” 2010

46% of online customers expect brands to provide customer service on Facebook… but only 23% provide it.
Oracle, “Consumer Views of Live Help Online 2012: A Global Perspective,” March 2012

41 percent of consumers expect an email response within six hours, yet only 36% of U.S. companies respond that quickly…14% never respond at all.
Forrester Research

Potential of Online Customer Support:

90% of consumers will always check a website first before emailing or calling a company.
Synthetix, 2012

91% of customers say they would use an online knowledge base if it were available.
Coleman Parkes, Online Survey, 2012

83% of the complainants that received a reply on social media liked or loved the fact that the company responded.
Maritz Research

7 out of 10 people think online customer service will dominate over traditional call-centres within a decade.
Synthetix, 2012

Importance of Customer Experience and Retention:

Companies that prioritize the customer experience generate 60% higher profits than their competitors.
Gartner, Inc.,  “Leading on the Edge of Chaos”

82% of US consumers in the U.S said they stopped doing business with a company due to a poor customer service experience.
RightNow Technologies,  “The Customer Experience Impact 2010 Report” 

81% of companies with strong capabilities and competencies for delivering customer experience excellence are outperforming their competitors.
Peppers and Rogers, “Customer Experience Maturity Monitor”

**

Thanks again to the Desk team for researching these facts and sharing them publicly.
While we hope you’ll want to reach out to CrowdEngineering, if you’re interested you can reach them by email at support@desk.com

 

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Posted in Industry News, Newsroom

Re-directing customer service back to customers

Harold Meyerson has penned a weekly op-ed column for The Washington Post since 2003.  Whether you consider yourself moderate, conservative, or share his liberal worldview — Meyerson’s columns are a good read for those who care about political and social issues.

While he’s covered a broad swath of topics from presidential politics to Wall Street, and from healthcare to retirement security — “work” and “workers” are frequent subjects in the archive of Meyerson’s columns and the central theme of his recent piece:

Taking the ‘service’ out of the service sector 

In this column (which garnered 2,000+ comments on Washingtonpost.com in just two weeks after its publication), Meyerson tackles the issue of how U.S. corporations have been wrestling for decades with how to “produce more with fewer employees,” offering his observation:

During these decades, however, the United States was also shifting to a service economy — a new reality that didn’t always comport with the doctrine of “lean is good.” The minimum number of required workers — a subjective standard at best — seldom yields the maximum level of customer satisfaction (or anything close to it).

Mr. Meyerson’s article goes on to detail that when companies including J.C. Penney and Wal-Mart slashed their workforces in recent years, customer dissatisfaction with those companies mounted. Beyond leaner workforces, Meyerson goes on to write that “putting workers in crummy, low-wage jobs tends to yield crummy service as well” and cites a Wall Street Journal article reporting that fast-food giant McDonald’s is telling its franchise owners that customer dissatisfaction is rising in part because “service is broken.”

Meyerson’s thought-provoking article (and the 2,000+ spirited reader comments it inspired) also caught the attention of New York-based futurist and blogger Domenic Basulto who mentioned the article in a post titled: Can Silicon Valley Reinvent Customer Service?

As a company that’s laser-focused on improving customer service through innovative technologies that change the service paradigm, this dialog touches on subjects that are near-and-dear to us.

Unanswered in either column is the potential that customer service “by customers for customers” might have to fix what’s “broken” in service while also helping companies to reduce costs.

Our belief:

Crowdsourcing customer service to a peer-to-peer external workforce of customers who are expert in a company’s products and services can “produce more with fewer employees,” while simultaneously reducing customer dissatisfaction, and improving brand loyalty, positive word of mouth and repeat business. Crowd for Care is, in our opinion a logical next step in the evolution of customer service and a next generation extension of self service.

While the path to better service at lower cost isn’t yet clearly charted – it’s a direction that companies should head toward.

What do you think?

Posted in Industry News

Sales Vet Joe Ferraro Joins CrowdEngineering

PRESS RELEASE

Joe Ferraro Appointed Senior Vice President for CrowdEngineering

Sales and CRM veteran joins leading vendor of social customer service software

Boston, MA (USA) and Catania, Italy – April 2, 2013 – CrowdEngineering, Inc. (http://www.crowdengineering.com), a leading provider of enterprise-class software and services for Social CRM and social customer service, today announced the appointment of Mr. Joseph J. Ferraro as Senior Vice President, Business Development.

Mr. Joseph Ferraro, SVP, Business Development (CrowdEngineering)

Joseph Ferraro is a veteran sales, service, and operations executive with experience in the telecommunications, professional and financial services, insurance and retail sectors. Before joining CrowdEngineering, Mr. Ferraro managed 350+ Fortune 500 companies as Head of Service, (Americas Region) at Xchanging plc. Previously he was a Partner in Accenture’s CRM Practice, served as COO at SkyTel, also as VP of Customer Service for both Quest Communications and for TeleTech Holdings. Earlier in his career, Ferraro held a number of sales and operational roles for AT&T– including directing its Multilingual Customer Service Centers. Mr. Ferraro has extensive experience living and working in Europe and parts of Asia. Joe holds a BS from Rutgers University and an MBA from New York University (USA).

“Joe Ferraro brings a wealth of experience in executive sales and support positions to his appointment as Senior Vice President, Business Development,” said Wes O’Brien, CEO, CrowdEngineering. “Given his skills and strong track record, Joe’s a strong addition to our management team and an ideal choice to help lead CrowdEngineering’s success in building key partnerships, driving sales, and servicing customers in the world’s largest market for Social CRM: the United States.”

“CrowdEngineering’s Crowd4Care social care software is a strong solution for companies who need to meet the growing demand from their social customers for high-quality customer support through online communities and social media channels,” said Joe Ferraro. “I’m excited to join the company and to help grow CrowdEngineering into the #1 social customer service vendor in North America.”

About CrowdEngineering

CrowdEngineering builds Social CRM solutions empowering companies to turn the force of their crowds (customers, employees & partners) into business advantage. Our flagship product Crowd4Care™ helps diverts requests that would go to high-cost call centers to an engaged Peer-to-Peer expert workforce of customers & employees anywhere in the world – who can provide quality customer service and peer-furnished support at lower costs: leveraging social channels, online communities, and new possibilities for self service. Built upon our patented “smart” system, our software is powered by CrowdForce™: a platform to listen, engage, enlist & learn from crowds; and which delivers a robust capability for purposeful crowdsourcing — to augment, enhance & reduce the cost of conventional customer service operations (e.g. call centers or outsourcing). Recognized as a “vendor to watch” by top industry analysts, CrowdEngineering is a venture backed, private company with operations in the U.S. and Europe. Visit www.crowdengineering.com

 

Media Contact:
Patrick Rafter for CrowdEngineering
pr@crowdengineering.com
617-901-2697 (USA)

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CrowdEngineering, CrowdForce and Crowd4Care are trademarks of CrowdEngineering, Inc. All other trademarks and copyrights are property of their respective owners.

Tags: Social CRM, social customer service, customer service, call center, crowdsourcing, customer experience, enterprise software, social customers, connected consumers, social media, Joe Ferraro

Posted in Industry News, Newsroom

Steve Shapiro: Crowd4Care – ‘A Virtual Geek Squad’

As we reported in an earlier post, CrowdEngineering CEO Wes OBrien was recently one of a select group of speakers at Crowdopolis 2013, the annual industry gathering focused on crowdsourcing.

CrowdEngineering's Wes OBrien connects with the crowd at #Crowdopolis 2013

 

Wes’ presentation “Crowd for Care for Customer Service,” supported the event’s common theme– that crowds (i.e. online communities) can help companies, non-profits, governments and other organizations for a range of purposes:  from virtual focus groups, to online product testing teams, to providing a volunteer workforce of peer-to-peer customer service reps.

Among the Crowdopolis speakers, one particularly “stood out in the crowd” (pardon the pun):

Stephen Shapiro, a respected ‘innovation evangelist’, speaker and author exhorted the audience to think differently and gave us a very thought-provoking presentation filled with memorable takeaways including:

  • Best practices are stupid!
  • Expertise is the enemy of innovation
  • Get women to help guys… since guys don’t help themselves
  • People can learn from cats… who, as Steve pointed out: do their best thinking ‘inside the box.’

Steve also exhorted the attendees to see crowdsourcing as an efficient means to:
“Ask the right question, in the right way, to the right people”

That comment resonated with us because reminded us of a description of how our patented “Smart Routing” technology intelligently directs questions the customers post on online forums to other customers, who are both expert and amenable to answer those questions…. “The right people”

Steve’s “right, right, right” observation might be why he called out “customer service” as a valuable crowdsourcing application in his reportage from Crowdopolis for Innovation Excellence (the #1 innovation website): “Crowdsourcing for every occasion”:

Customer service – What if you could get your fans to be customer service employees? Platforms like CrowdEngineering.com allow your most knowledgeable customers to provide help to your entire customer base. If your customers have a technical problem, instead of speaking to an employee, they can be routed to one of these knowledgeable fans. Think of this is a virtual “geek squad” or “genius bar.”

Steve concluded his Crowdopolis report with his opinion that  “when used properly, (crowdsourcing) can reduce costs, timeframes, and risk, while providing high quality solutions.”

BTW— Beyond his sage wisdom, Steve also knows the importance of having fun, as shown in this pic of him with Crowdopolis organizer-par excellence Alicia Mitchell. :-)

Alicia Mitchell + Steve Shapiro at Crowdopolis 2013

 

 

If you care about business innovation, then Steve Shapiro’s blog is a “must read” for your blog roll: http://www.steveshapiro.com/blog/. You’ll want to follow him on Twitter too: @stephenshapiro

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Tags: Crowdopolis, Crowd4Care, Social CRM, Crowdsourcing, Customer Service, Steve Shapiro, Wes Obrien, Innovation, Geek Squad, social care

Posted in Events, Industry News, Newsroom

Crowdsourcing Customer Service: Biz Imperative

Recently, CrowdEngineering CEO Wes O’Brien (aka @wes_crowdengine on Twitter) was a featured speaker at Crowdopolis 2013, the industry’s top annual event focused on crowdsourcing. Crowdopolis Big Apple 2013 delivered a fascinating agenda of presentations by innovators that are tapping the wisdom and involvement of crowds for business advantages.

Wes O’Brien speaking on “Crowdsourcing for Customer Service” at Crowdopolis 2013

At #Crowdopolis, Mr. O’Brien was in “good company,” as he joined an impressive speaker roster including executives from AT&T, GE, eBay, Microsoft and NASA who spoke on the wide range of crowdsourcing applications: from product testing and co-creation to ideation, and from community engagement to patient self-education.

Event organizer and impresario David Bratvold invited Wes O’Brien to New York to speak at Crowdopolis 2013 and provide his expert opinion on how to lower customer service costs with crowdsourcing.

In his presentation “Crowd for Care for Customer Service” CrowdEngineering’s Wes O’Brien described “Crowd for Care” as the next step for customer service through its ability to divert requests to call centers up to 40% and to reduce the overall cost of customer support up to 60%.

Before Crowdopolis, the Editor of the CrowdEngineering Blog sat down for an interview with Mr. O’Brien to learn his perspectives on the challenges and possibilities for crowdsourcing of customer service…

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Here’s a Q&A transcript of that interview:

Question from Editor to Wes O’Brien:
What’s your perspective (as CEO of CrowdEngineering) about the good and the bad of crowdsourcing?

Answer (from Wes O’Brien/CrowdEngineering):
The answer to your question is ironic…
The best thing about crowdsourcing is there’s “so much out there.”
The worst thing about crowdsourcing: there’s “so much out there!!”

Back in the 60s, when A.J. Liebling’s commented “we’re drowning information, yet starved for knowledge,” he had no idea what lay ahead with the impact of the World Wide Web, and the Googlebytes of content, opinion, and noise now generated and exchanged through cyberspace.

This reality is being fueled by a massive uptick in the use of social networks and online communities through which individuals increasingly depend on peers for input and insights, and to find answers and advice to solve problems they’re having.

The sheer quantity of content generated and vast number of interactions that are made possible through the Web have created a situation that is both good…and bad!  That situation has created a challenge for companies who consider themselves ‘customer centric’:

How to effectively track, manage and respond to Web-fueled overload of incoming information and queries from customers?

Q: Does this challenge mean that companies need to change the way they do business?

A:
The answer is yes… and no.

While the growth of the Web, social media and online communities have dramatically changed how companies and customers connect—the four fundamental drivers of business have NOT.

Companies still need to: 1) Build, 2) Market, 3) Sell and 4) Support their products & services

Yet, while new tech has helped to simplify processes and reduce the cost of those four drivers, in order to profit and succeed in today’s competitive market, corporations must now meet five new business imperatives:

 i)  Do more with less

 ii) Increase profits while dropping cost

iii) Implement systems for better ROI, and strategically…

iv)  Inform, engage, enlist & reward your customers, making them active co-partners in your business

v)   Become a “social business”

Q: What do you mean by a “social business”?

A:
While the conventional definition of “ROI” as “Return on Investment” is still valid, with the spread of social media and the adoption of new Social CRM tools, we think ROI now means “Return on Interaction.”

By listening, observing, asking, involving, and interacting with customers (partners, and employees too), a truly social business will build better products, that are increasingly designed, sold, and even supported by customers.

Q: Customer support by customers? Isn’t that an oxymoron?

A:

Far from it! Customer care through customers is a smart business strategy whose time has come and makes sense!
After all, as CEOs of Fortune 500 companies now admit—who knows a company’s products and services better than their own customers?

Q: How then can companies provide customer support through customers?

A:
Every day, more and more customers go to internal and external forums and online communities in search of answers from people like them.  Unfortunately, on virtually all of today’s online communities, the process of resolving problems and issues (and of converting questions to answers) is poorly handled, if not entirely unmanaged.

Addressing that need (and opportunity), our company, CrowdEngineering builds Social CRM software to help companies leverage the force of their crowds (customers, employees & partners) in order to deliver customer service, while simultaneously reducing costs and improving customer experiences, satisfaction and loyalty.

Our flagship social care product (Crowd4Care) helps divert requests that would go to high-cost call centers to an engaged Peer-to-Peer expert workforce of customers & employees anywhere in the world – who can provide quality customer service and peer-furnished support at lower costs: leveraging social channels, online communities, and new possibilities for self service.

My presentation at Crowdopolis focuses on best practices and how companies are deploying “Crowd for Care” systems to manage and leverage online customer forums to deliver quality customer service, while reducing the cost of service delivery.

I’m happy to share my presentation with anyone who’s interested…

Editor: Thanks your offer, and your time today.

Wes O’Brien:
My pleasure.

******

Learn More:
If you’d like a PDF copy of Wes O’Brien’s Crowdopolis 2013 presentation on “Crowd for Care for Customer Service” send an email to pr@crowdengineering.com and reference this blog post.

Tags: #Crowdopolis, #Crowd4Care, #CRM, #CustServ, Wes OBrien, CrowdEngineering,#ReturnOnInteraction

 

Posted in Events, Industry News, Newsroom

Customer Care Meets Customer Response

 

Execs In The Know — Organizers of the 2013 Customer Response Summit

 

NEWS RELEASE

CrowdEngineering to Attend Customer Response Summit 5

Social Care and Social CRM on the agenda at top customer service industry gathering

BOSTON, MA and Bonita Springs, FL – February 11-13, 2013 –Executives from CrowdEngineering (a leading provider of software and services for Social CRM and enterprise-class crowdsourcing solutions for customer service), will attend the fifth annual Customer Response Summit, (#CRSummit) taking place February 11 to 13 at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa, in Bonita Springs, Florida.

The Customer Response Summit is presented by Execs in the Know, who, for over a decade, have built a reputation of excellence in the customer experience industry and a worldwide community of over 40,000 customer experience professionals. They connect people to quality content and promote thought leadership through industry events, Peer-to-Peer collaboration, networking, and industry employment opportunities. Examples of this can be seen in the biennial Customer Response Summit, Blog Talk Radio, Industry Benchmarking and blogs that the Execs in the Know community offers.

“The consumer of today has a voice, a need to be heard. Therefore today, more than ever, Service Leaders are focused on ensuring the right balance between customer experience and the demands associated within a complex multi-channel environment,” said Chad McDaniel, President and Founder of Execs in the Know. “The forum provides a platform for Service Leaders to share best practices on how to best serve the new connected consumer.” Featured speakers include top brands such as Ford, FedEx, Sony and others.

“Chad McDaniel’s annual Customer Response Summit is perhaps the most important event for the customer service/customer service industry each year,” said Wes O’Brien, CEO of CrowdEngineering. “We’re looking forward to meeting new and old friends, and joining within them in productive conversations on where customer centric business is headed. While research from the most recent Customer Experience Management Benchmark Study (from (Execs in the Know & www.3csi.com) estimates that 70% of companies have an active platform for social media engagement, 22% are still determining their approach to social care. CrowdEngineering’s software platform for Peer-to-Peer customer care is designed to meet that growing demand.”

About CrowdEngineering

CrowdEngineering builds Social CRM solutions empowering companies to turn the force of their crowds (customers, employees & partners) into business advantage.

Built upon our patented “smart” system, our software is powered by CrowdForce™: a platform to listen, engage, enlist & learn from crowds; and which delivers a robust capability for purposeful crowdsourcing — to augment, enhance & reduce the cost of conventional customer service operations (e.g. call centers or outsourcing). Our flagship product Crowd4Care™ helps diverts requests that would go to high-cost call centers to an engaged Peer-to-Peer expert workforce of customers & employees anywhere in the world – who can provide quality customer service and peer-furnished support at lower costs: leveraging social channels, online communities, and new possibilities for self service.

Recognized as a “vendor to watch” by top industry analysts, CrowdEngineering is a venture backed, private company with operations in the U.S. and Europe. Visit www.crowdengineering.com or follow us on Twitter: @CrowdEng

Media Contact:

Patrick Rafter for CrowdEngineering
pr@crowdengineering.com  617-901-2697 (USA)

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CrowdEngineering, CrowdForce and Crowd4Care are trademarks of CrowdEngineering, Inc. All other trademarks and copyrights are property of their respective owners.

Tags: Social CRM, customer service, call center, crowdsourcing, customer experience, BPO, enterprise software, #CRSummit, Customer Response Summit, Chad McDaniel

Posted in Events, Industry News, Newsroom

CrowdEngineering Names Wes O’Brien as New CEO

Press Release

CrowdEngineering Names Wes O’Brien as New CEO

Customer service/call center veteran to lead top vendor of Social CRM and crowdsourcing for customer service solutions

Boston, MA (USA) and Catania, Italy – January 29, 2013 CrowdEngineering, Inc. (http://www.crowdengineering.com), a leading provider of software and services for Social CRM and enterprise-class crowdsourcing solutions for customer service, today announced the appointment of Mr. Wesley O’Brien as Chief Executive Officer. Mr. O’Brien replaces Ron Guerriero (CrowdEngineering Director), who has served as interim CEO since September 2012, and who continues as a board member.

In a career spanning more than 25 years, Wes O’Brien has held a variety of executive roles in customer service, technology and business process outsourcing (BPO) companies serving the telecom, insurance, healthcare, financial services, and e-commerce sectors. Accomplished in the areas of financial management, revenue growth and business process improvement, Wes joins CrowdEngineering from his position as Senior Vice President, Business Development for SITEL,  a $1.3 billion customer services provider.

Prior to SITEL, Wes served as President & COO of Cambridge Solutions, a global BPO/ITO services firm, leading a team of 4,500 people in India, Australia, and the U.S. through steady growth and the company’s later acquisition by Xchanging, Plc. Wes was previously President and COO of Precision Response Corp (PRC), an integrated customer care solutions provider; CEO and President at TresCom International (where he led its IPO and subsequent company sale); and also head of MCI’s $1.5+ billion Small Business Division. Wes spent the first five years of his career with Price Waterhouse, after receiving his BS in Accounting from the State University of New York at Binghamton.

Mr. Wes O’Brien
Chief Executive Officer, CrowdEngineering
www.crowdengineering.com

“Wes is the ideal leader to take CrowdEngineering through the next stage of growth and opportunities,” said Michele Costabile, Chairman of the Board of CrowdEngineering and Vice President at Principia SGR, a leading Italian venture capital company. “Wes brings a unique combination of compelling vision and extensive experience in leading high performance companies that leverage technology and people to deliver quality customer experiences and stellar customer service.”

Commenting on Mr. O’Brien’s appointment, Gianluca Dettori, Chairman of dPixel, an early investor in CrowdEngineering said “As an internationally-respected expert in customer care services and proven manager of companies from startups to multinational public companies Wesley O’Brien is an excellent fit for our company. His strong financial background and in-depth industry knowledge will make him an invaluable resource as we further strengthen our operations and grow our business.”

“Harnessing the power of customer enthusiasm and knowledge through its innovative software CrowdEngineering is well positioned to become a global provider of crowd solutions for customer service,” said Wes O’Brien. “I’m excited for the opportunity to lead this talented team and work to build this entrepreneurial company into a world-class organization offering high value software and services.”

About CrowdEngineering

CrowdEngineering builds Social CRM solutions empowering companies to turn the force of their crowds (customers, employees & partners) into business advantage.

Built upon our patented “smart” system, our software is powered by CrowdForce™: a platform to listen, engage, enlist & learn from crowds; and which delivers a robust capability for purposeful crowdsourcing — to augment, enhance & reduce the cost of conventional customer service operations (e.g. call centers or outsourcing). Our flagship product Crowd4Care™ helps diverts requests that would go to high-cost call centers to an engaged Peer-to-Peer expert workforce of customers & employees anywhere in the world – who can provide quality customer service and peer-furnished support at lower costs: leveraging social channels, online communities, and new possibilities for self service.

Recognized as a “vendor to watch” by top industry analysts, CrowdEngineering is a venture backed, private company with operations in the U.S. and Europe. Visit www.crowdengineering.com

Media Contact:

Patrick Rafter for CrowdEngineering
pr@crowdengineering.com

617-901-2697 (USA)

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CrowdEngineering, CrowdForce and Crowd4Care are trademarks of CrowdEngineering, Inc. All other trademarks and copyrights are property of their respective owners.

Tags: Social CRM, customer service, call center, crowdsourcing, customer experience, BPO, enterprise software

Posted in Industry News, Newsroom

Tapping the Potential of Enterprise Social Business

ZDNet is one of our favorite sources for content and opinion on topics that are near and dear to our hearts— in particular the evolving state of “enterprise social media.”

Beyond Paul Greenberg’s perennial must-read Social CRM: The Conversation column, ZDNet featured another excellent post that came out out this week:

“2013 Predictions for Enterprise Social Media” by Dion Hinchcliffe (Twitter @dionhinchcliffe) who’s the author of ZDNet’s Enterprise Web 2.0 blog.

Dion’s article details his 11 predictions for social business this year– predictions we see as “spot” observations that will be of interest to anyone who wants to reach the goal he describes as capitalizing “on the rich potential that many organizations feel they’re not yet reaching with social.”

Reading Hinchcliffe’s take on the state and future of enterprise social media this morning put a big smile on my face since some of his language almost reads like marketing copy describing the products that CrowdEngineering offers to help companies use crowdsourcing for customer care:

“…ways to better connect with their primary stakeholders (workers, customers, partners) in the new channels of communication to which many of us have moved, while also tapping into more effective ways of working and creating mutual value there.”

Nice to see that an experienced observer of the ever-changing world of social business describes what companies may be looking for in verbiage that aligns with the spec for our Crowd4Care solution!

Interestingly, this article also includes a compelling infographic showing that “organizations that have a fully integrated social ecosystem see much higher ROI.” Based on feedback from our clients, we know that to be true.

Infographic: The ROI of Unified Social Business
(Source: Dion Hinchcliffe, ZDNet Enterprise Web 2.0 Blog)

Dion Hinchcliffe’s “2013 Predictions for Enterprise Social Media” article does a good public service in his itemization of emerging trends that enterprises will want to follow in order to “adapt to social media and become more effective at creating significant value with it.”

We (at CrowdEngineering), look forward to being part of that evolution and continuing our efforts to help clients to create tangible value from their social business initiatives.

Stay tuned!

Posted in Industry News

Forrester + Crowd4Care: Customer Service Return on Interaction

Yesterday, CrowdEngineering’s Ron Guerriero sat down for a briefing with with William “Bill” Band, who is VP and Principal Analyst (covering CRM) at Forrester Research.

William Band, Forrester Research

While Mr. Band was somewhat familiar with CrowdEngineering, since this was his first in-person meeting with company representatives—it was a good opportunity for him to learn about Crowd4Care and our strategic focus on software to enable peer-to-peer customer service delivery.

Knowing that Bill and other Forrester analysts get “pitched” by circa 30 vendors a week (enduring countless, mind numbing PowerPoint presentations), we’re encouraged by this Tweet he put out after our discussion:

@waband : #crowdengineering. Very interesting #crowdsourcing solution to harness #brand advocates for customer service #CRM #custserv

Since Forrester is at the forefront of industry analysts trying to make sense of the ever-evolving market of different approaches to CRM and customer service, this was welcome praise indeed!

Having followed Bill Band for a while, it’s clear that he and others at Forrester share our perspective that engaging customers (and employees) through social media and enlisting them to provide customer service can deliver strong business value.

Mr. Band elaborated on this topic in his November 2012 article
“Social CRM Is Not A Strategy – But You Do Need A Strategy To Succeed”:

Organizations must evolve to find innovative new solutions to engage with emerging social consumers, enrich the customer experience through community-based interactions, and architect flexible solutions that foster strong intra-organizational and customer collaboration. We describe this as taking an outside-in approach, where customer interactions are the key to success.

Forrester data shows that more and more organizations use social technologies for customer service to participate in virtual conversations with community members in order to gather and act on their feedback on products and services, as well as to leverage customer expertise to evolve product knowledge in line with customer demand.

Yes, we also believe that “customer interactions are the key to success,” and by building and deploying Crowd4Care, we’re confident that our customers will see a new kind of ROI: a “Return on Interaction” that builds customer engagement, loyalty, retention and revenues.

Speaking of interaction… send us your thoughts!
We’d love to know what YOU’RE thinking.

Posted in Industry News

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