SHARE



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Sheila McGee-Smith
Sheila McGee-Smith, who founded McGee-Smith Analytics in 2001, is a leading communications industry analyst and strategic consultant focused on the...
Read Full Bio >>
SHARE



Sheila McGee-Smith | May 06, 2012 |

 
   

Mobile Customer Care Mania: Needle

Mobile Customer Care Mania: Needle Needle is designed to get expert user advice when you want to buy something--from people who actually use the product, not typical contact center agents.

Needle is designed to get expert user advice when you want to buy something--from people who actually use the product, not typical contact center agents.

Back on the topic of mobile customer care, and as promised, this post takes a decidedly different angle from the earlier ones that focused on solutions from Genesys and VHT for smartphone users. My interest in Needle began with a news alert about a CNET story, Mobile Contact Center. When I clicked through, I was greeted by pictures (similar to the one below) of an RV that purports to be a roving contact center. Intrigued enough to ask for an interview with CEO Morgan Lynch, it turns out mobility is just one part of the story. Another topic, fan-sourcing, is potentially even more interesting.

First let me address the mobility angle. With their Salt Lake City lease expiring, Lynch decided to take his social commerce business on the road. Publicity stunt or not, pictures of the company's mobile contact center have been hitting the tech websites for a couple of weeks. Inside the vehicle, the "contact center" angle is experts on laptops responding to customer interactions, primarily over chat.

The agents, and the types of queries they respond to, are the more forward-thinking aspects of Needle. Like many an entrepreneurial concept, Needle's story began with a telling personal experience: The founder tried to buy a triathlon wetsuit online and spent hours traversing search engines, reading through forums and scouring product reviews to find the best one--all unsuccessfully. Needle is designed to solve the problem of getting expert user advice when you want to buy something--from people who actually use the product, not typical contact center agents.

The best way to explain Needle's business model is with a real example. SkullCandy (makers of earphones) wanted to give expert service to prospects to help them make purchase decisions. Needle was engaged to find, train and schedule SkullCandy users and fans to answer questions about SkullCandy products. Needle recruited so-called "Needlers" (not agents) from places like the SkullCandy Facebook fan page or Twitter. Working from anywhere, with a browser, Needlers engage in a dialogue with the consumer.

Who is the typical Needler? Someone who loves the product they consult on. Needle isn't looking for full-time agents; 8 hours a day on the phone leads to the kind of burnout we have all experienced on the other end of customer service calls. Instead, Needlers typically work no more than a three-hour shift and a total of 20 hours a week.

And money isn't the only compensation. Gamification, with points and leader boards, is built into the Needle system. The rewards? More products that Needlers love—which in turn makes them even better experts on the product line.

Needlers are used to help sell products, not to do customer service. According to Lynch, while they may be students or home-makers looking for a part time job, they can also be people with full time jobs that are interested in spending a few hours a week chatting with like-minded users (and in some cases fanatics).

There has been talk of Facebook, Twitter and forums being used to have customers help each other. Think of Needle as a productization of this strategy, not for service but for sales.





COMMENTS



Enterprise Connect Orlando 2017
March 27-30 | Orlando, FL
Connect with the Entire Enterprise Communications & Collaboration Ecosystem


Stay Up-to-Date: Hear industry visionaries in Keynotes and General Sessions delivering the latest insight on UC, mobility, collaboration and cloud

Grow Your Network: Connect with the largest gathering of enterprise IT and business leaders and influencers

Learn From Industry Leaders: Attend a full range of Conference Sessions, Free Programs and Special Events

Evaluate All Your Options: Engage with 190+ of the leading equipment, software and service providers

Have Fun! Mingle with sponsors, exhibitors, attendees, guest speakers and industry players during evening receptions

Special Offer - Save $200 Off Advance Rates

Register now with code NOJITTEREB to save $200 Off Advance Rates or get a FREE Expo Pass!

March 8, 2017

Enterprise IT's ability to innovate is critical to the success of the business -- 80% of CIOs agree. But the CIO role has never been more challenging than it is today, with rising operational respo

February 22, 2017

Sick of video call technology that make participants look like they're in the witness protection program? Turns out youre not alone. Poor-quality video solutions can give users an unprofessional ap

February 7, 2017

Securing voice communications used to be very simple since it was generally a closed system. However, with unified communications (UC) you no longer have the walled protection offered by a dedicate

February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.