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Customer Collaboration In a Gift Society James Fitzsimmons Seay Professor of Business Emeritus McCombs School of Business The University of Texas at Austin.

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Presentation on theme: "Customer Collaboration In a Gift Society James Fitzsimmons Seay Professor of Business Emeritus McCombs School of Business The University of Texas at Austin."— Presentation transcript:

1 Customer Collaboration In a Gift Society James Fitzsimmons Seay Professor of Business Emeritus McCombs School of Business The University of Texas at Austin The Art & Science of Service Conference Bentley University June 2009

2 Overview The Case of the Pill Dispenser Characteristics of a Gift Society Motivation of Contributors Open-source Communities Gift Society Opportunities Online Forums at Verizon Customer Community at Starbucks Collaboration at Boomer Consulting Increasing Perceived Value Through Collaboration Research questions

3 Customer Collaboration in Product Improvement The Case of the Pill Dispenser Changed a slot to a triangular opening to accommodate large pills

4 Characteristics of a Gift Society AARP survey of 40 million Americans aged 50 or older found 73% preferred to give time rather than money. On sites like Linkedin and Facebook complete strangers are helping out-of-work people by sharing job leads and making referrals putting their own reputation on the line. Web-savvy retirees help answer technical questions online from home for a few hours a day for the enjoyment and respect of peers. Lead users often contribute to product innovation and improvement (e.g. skateboarders and mountain bikers).

5 Motivation of Contributors Giving back in retirement. Joy of helping others. Peer recognition. Social interaction Feeling of being useful. Alternative to boredom. Intergenerational transfer of value.

6 Open-source Communities Examples of open-source collaboration: Linux and Wikipedia Attributes of open-source communities: - They have leadership and structure. - People contribute out of generosity and ego because they own it, not for money. Web 2.0 Enabling - Blogs - FaceBook - Twitter - YouTube Mobile Communication Connectivity - iPhone - Cell Phone Cameras - GPS

7 Gift Society Opportunities SocietyNGOGovernmentCorporate Expertise Wikipedia (content) Habitat for Humanity School MentorVerizon (community forum) Advise LinkedIn (job leads) Boy ScoutsTeen CourtStarbucks (IdeaStorm) Presence Craigslist (posting) Archaeology Dig Adopt a Highway Customer Online Survey Contribution Beneficiary Thanks to the Blue Canoe Gang for refinements

8 Using Volunteer Expertise The Case of Verizon Job description: Spend 20 hours per week at your computer supplying answers online to customer questions with no pay. Who responded: Retired experts willing to give of their time for the pleasure of helping others. Other benefits: Becoming a community leader with direct access to Verizon technical staff. Source:

9 Customer Community The Case of Starbucks In 2008 launched MyStarbucksIdea.com built on IdeaStorm platform Starbucks found customers generous with ideas (e.g., make ice cubes out of coffee, program regular order into Starbucks card) with other customers screening the ideas. Solutions were offered not complaints It was like a live focus group that never closes. An avenue to harness the customer community to innovate. A parallel channel was developed for employee input. Source: Jeff Jarvis, What Would Google Do?, Collins Business, 2009,

10 Customer Collaboration The Case of Boomer Consulting “Those who can create value through leadership, relationships and creativity will transform the industry, as well as strengthen relationships with their existing clients” Change in delivery format from traveling to individual client sites to leading client group collaboration and joint learning at meeting in Kansas, Missouri. L. Gary Boomer, Boomer Consulting of Manhattan, KS

11 Boomer Consulting The Technology Leadership Process Technology Leadership Workshop (One-on-one conference call from Boomer) Reviews (Strategic, Technical, Executive Analysis, Consultants Training Program) Technology Leadership Blueprint and Budget (Written plan and 3-year budget) Kolbe Team Success Program (Seminar to diagnose productivity problems and offer prescriptions) Coaching Through Technology Circles (Groups of firms join together to share common concerns) Firm Summit (Boomer facilitates annual retreat)

12 Research Questions What is the appropriate organization of an online community? (e.g., Wikipedia) How do you reward outstanding contributors? (e.g., Verizon) How should abusers be dealt with? (e.g., Craigslist) Need web-site for those seeking opportunities to serve.


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