Customers So Valuable That a Start Up Is Hiring Them
File this under The Hidden Wealth of Customers. Popular firms like Under Armour, Urban Outfitter and Skull Candy (popular headphone maker) are outsourcing customer service to a Salt Lake City start up called Needles. Needles provides the service by hiring its clients' "raving-fan" customers and paying them 10 bucks an hour or so.The reasoning (which is quite familiar to readers of this blog): customers in need of service would rather talk to other passionate customers than, say, someone in India working off a script. USA Today's Jefferson Graham gives a nice account of the details. As Needles' CEO Morgan Lynch puts it, "We as shoppers want to engage with people who actually own these products and services, as opposed to someone who really doesn't."
The example of ways in which companies derive considerable value from customers--value that can go way beyond anything they buy--are increasingly well known to this community. But I do believe this is the first time I've heard of an outside start up company that is harvesting such value.