I wrote a post on The Carphone Warehouse help blog the other day about Twelpforce: the power of collective help. Twelpforce is an amazing, and I would say revolutionary and evolutionary, approach to how BestBuy engages with customers. It utilises all the collective knowledge within a company and channels it through a single interface – Twelpforce. Imagine not just one person or ten people, but over 1,000 employees ready to answer any query a customer puts to them. This post is about a conversation I had with John Bernier, one of the team that brought the concept to life.  I love the following sentence from John: ‘Twelpforce is the culmination of all the different experiments that took place’. Just imagine, thousands of ‘micro-interactions’ happening every day.

The blog is reproduced below:

Twelpforce: the power of collective help

I had a great call with John Bernier (@bernierjohn) of BestBuy yesterday. John is the Marketing Manager and Social Media Advocate at BestBuy, and is one of the team along with Barry Judge (@BestBuyCMO) and Gary Koelling (@GaryKoelling) amongst others who have been instrumental in getting Twelpforce (@Twelpforce) off the ground.

Essentially, Twelpforce allows customers and employees to be in direct contact with each other enabling the free flow of knowledge between the two or three or four or more.

Here are some of the things I wrote down during the call and which I hope you find useful:

A year in the planning
Leveraging what was already happening in the space
Starting point was to attract employees who showed a passion for the space, already had a consistent voice in it, and were in it for the long term
Twelpforce is the culmination of all the different experiments that took place
Ensuring employees have a strong set of tools to draw on
Mistakes will happen, get over it, but learn from them
A customer can and does receive multiple answers to their questions. And do you know what – that’s okay. It’s like going into a virtual store and looking around, asking different questions, getting advice from different salespeople, each answer adding a new bit of information, and then taking all of that information and using it to make the most informed decision for you
Issues/complaints can be taken offline to be dealt with via more traditional channels
It’s about making a difference every day
About 1300 BestBuy employees joined up to answer questions
Guidelines do exist and these can be found on an internal wiki
The guidelines are there to provide ‘a direction and a compass with bumpers on the side’. They are not there to stifle individual creativity, hence no roadmap exists. It’s an evolving journey, where mistakes might happen
Metrics do exist, but it’s still early days – number of incoming questions ; average number of answers per incoming question ; number of active users ; response time… Metrics are evolving!
Sentiment from Twelpforce is running at about 80% positive for BestBuy as a result of it

If you haven’t checked out Twelpforce yet, do so. It’s inspiring, groundbreaking, and perhaps gives us an insight into what customer engagement might look like in the years to come.