Using the Groundswell as a support tool

This weeks discussion on the Groundswell well address the possibility of using the Groundswell to help support the company and the consumers of the product or service. Bernoff and Li give some very interesting examples of how using the Groundswell for support issues can in fact save companies money in their book titled Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social media. The first interesting case that they talk about is CarePages that is a blog that is linked to all family and friends of a hospital patient. This blog/support forum sends messages to all family and friends when the blog is updated by the patient helping to keep everyone informed without having to constantly be making phone calls or writing individual emails. For anyone with a sick family member CarePages makes this communication so much easier. CarePages also has a forum where people can interact with each other regardless of them being family or friends for things such as information on sickness or help finding organ donors such as a young woman has posted (photo below). The next really interesting case is that of Dell’s support forum. This forum is where customers can go and ask questions that can be answered by other Dell customers or anyone who knows the answer to the asked question. It is noted in the book written by Bernoff and LI that this particular support forum where Dell doesn’t have to answer that questions through phone calls has saved them almost $1 million from just one-person posting answers. Both of these types of support forums have ensured customer happiness without investing tons of money.


Cilla_Diane. (Composer). (2013, October 17). Looking for a kidney donor [Web Graphic]. Retrieved from

Bernoff and Li also outline some advice for starting a support community for a company.

  • Start small, but plan for a larger presence: Starting with just one product line before expanding to the other ones offered by the company
  • Reach out to your most active customers: Find out through such things as surveys how the consumers would prefer to participate in the support community.
  • Plan to drive traffic to your community: Find different ways to get consumers to go to your support forum such as advertising it on business cards or on phone messages.
  • Build a reputation system: Implement a way that allows for a customer who post often and who’s posts answer the most questions to become more “credible” in the support forum.
  • Let your customers lead you: Having a section that allows for customers to post on company improvements will allow for greater customer satisfaction in the long run.


Keeping all this in mind, developing a support forum for Brewster’s Brewing Company will be quite simple. First, they should focus on creating a support forum for users to ask questions and critique the beers that Brewster’s creates and has on tap. This forum will allow for consumers to post ratings on the beers, give their personal critique on the flavors, and answer questions about what the beers taste to in comparison to domestic brands on the market. This forum will be available on the company website, and should also have a “mobile” version or an app that will allow customers to visit this site while in the restaurants. The forum will be advertised on the beer menus that are provided to every table and also recorded on a hold message for customers who are calling the restaurant. The forum should also have a section where posters can let others know how much the frequent the restaurant and drink the beers. This will help to promote the credibility of the users because those who drink more of the beer should have a better-formed opinion of what is good or not. And lastly, of course there should be a thread in the forum where people can post directly to the Brewster’s head brewers and state what they like or do not like from the Brewster’s line, and also post suggestions for new beers they would like to try from Brewsters. Implementing all these suggestions will create a successful support forum for the company.

Reference for Bernoff and Li

Li, C. & Bernoff, J.  (2011) Groundswell: winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing


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