This week will be the first week that viewers cast their vote for the next American Idol. Why is this important for customer advocates? It is importanct because American Idol is one example of a phenomenon known as crowdsourcing.
Today, there are countless examples of crowdsourcing. America Idol crowdsources judging and wikipedia uses the crowd to create content. At one point it was believed that whitehouse.gov was crowdsourcing ideas for the stimulus package.
As a customer advocate I've been wrestling with two questions:
1 - Is the customer feedback process an example of crowdsourcing? I think it depends on how the information is being used. For example, one company uses their feedback process to generate leads. If I'm interpretting the concept correct, this would be considered crowdsourcing. Another company uses the feedback to measure progress on initiatives. I'm not sure that this would classify as crowdsourcing. What do you think?
2 - Should every company have a crowdsourcing initiative? The portable GPS company TomTom does and for good reason. They released a feature called MapShare, where the community provides updates to the map. At a minimum, it seems like every company should at least consider how it can utilize the crowd to improve its products, services, and the customer experience, particularly in todays economic climate. Do you agree?
Note: This blog was initially published in Customer Connection on 2/16/09.