I found this Economist post on unsourcing very thought provoking. Please note particularly:
“Unsourcing”, as the new trend has been dubbed, involves companies setting up online communities to enable peer-to-peer support among users. Instead of speaking with a faceless person thousands of miles away, customers’ problems are answered by individuals in the same country who have bought and used the same products. This happens either on the company’s own website or on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, and the helpers are generally not paid anything for their efforts.
“When TomTom, a maker of satellite-navigation systems, switched on social support, members handled 20,000 cases in its first two weeks and saved it around $150,000. Best Buy, an American gadget retailer, values its 600,000 users at $5m annually.”
“One British company has taken unsourcing to the extreme. GiffGaff, a virtual mobile operator (ie, one which piggybacks on traditional network operators’ infrastructure), not only encourages clients to help each other out but also to recruit new customers and even promote the firm via home-made YouTube adverts. Unlike most companies, GiffGaff rewards participants with points that can reduce their monthly phone bills. The system seems to work: GiffGaff says the average response time for questions is just three minutes, day or night, with 95% of queries being answered within an hour.”