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How to Crowdsource Crisis Response

How to Crowdsource Crisis Response

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Published by: Crowdsourcing.org on Sep 15, 2011
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How to Crowdsource Crisis Response
I recently had the distinct pleasure of giving this year’s keynote address at the
Global Communications Forum(#RCcom on Twitter) organized by the Interna- tional Committee of the Red Cross(ICRC)in Geneva. The conversations that followed were thoroughly fruitful and enjoyable.Like many other humanitarian organizations, the ICRC is thinking hard about howto manage the social media challenge. In 2010,this study carried out by the American Red Cross (ARC) found that the public increasingly expectshumanitarian organizations to respond to pleas for help posted on social mediaplatforms like Facebook, Twitter, etc. The question is, how in the world arehumanitarian organizations supposed to handle this significant increase in
“customer service” requests? Even during non
emergencies, ARC’s Facebook page
receives a large number of comments on a daily basis many of which solicitreplies. This figure escalates significantly during crises. So what to do?
The answer, in my opinion, requires some organizational change. Clearly, thedramatic rise in customer service requests posted on social media platforms cannotbe managed through existing organizational structures and work flows. Moreover,
the vast majority of posted requests don’t reflect life threatening situations. In other words, responses to many requests don’t require professional emergency
responders. So humanitarian organizations should consider taking a two-prongedstrategy to address the social media challenge. The first is to upgrade their
“customer service systems” and the second is to connect these systems with local
networks of citizen crisis responders.How do large private sector companies deal with the social media challenge? Well,some obviously do better than others. (Incidentally, this question was a recurringtopic of conversation at the Same Wavelength conference in London where I spoke after Geneva). This explains why I recommended that my ICRC colleaguesconsider various social media customer service models used in the private sectorand identify examples of positive deviance.
The latest innovation in the customer service space was just launchedatTechCrunch Disrupt this week. TalkTo 
consumers to send text messages
to any business and get quick responses to questions, feedback, and more.”
”no one wants to wait on the phone, and email can be slow
as well. SMS Messaging is a natural form of communication these days and themost efficient for simple questions. It makes sense to bring this communication to
 businesses.” If successful, I wonder whether TalkTo will add Twitter and
Facebook to their service as other communication media.Some companies leverage crowdsourcing, like 
.Over time,
Best Buy “found that with some good foundational guideposts and training tools,
the crowd began to self-organize and govern itself. Leaders in the space popped upas coaches, or mentors
and pretty soon they had a really good support network in
 On the humanitarian side, the American Red Cross has begun to leverage theirtrained volunteers to manage respon
ses to the organization’s official Facebook 
page, for example. With some good foundational guideposts and training tools,they should be able to scale this solution. In some ways, one could say thathumanitarian organizations are increasingly required to play the role of 
“telephone” operator. So
I’d be very interested in getting feedback from
readers on alternative, social media approaches to customer service inthe private sector. If you know of any innovative ones, please feel free to share inthe comments section below.

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