Mobile operator Giffgaff is still seeing significant member growth, proving that a business model that puts community at its heart really can prevail.
The mobile operator saves costs for its customers by encouraging them to be active in its online community, delivering peer-to-peer customer service and help.
Giffgaff CEO Mike Fairman told new media age this week that it saw an 11% increase in revenue and a 7% increase in membership in 2011 (nma.co.uk 30 January 2012). He also noted that the brand awareness level was high, given the short time the company has been operating.
It is about to launch a big awareness drive but so far, stats are showing that its growth has predominantly come from recommendations and peer-to-peer channels. Fairman says 25% of new subscribers come following the recommendations of existing members and it has almost 80,000 Facebook Likes.
For me, the interesting aspect of the Giffgaff model is the idea of cost saving and passing it on to customers. Digital and social media can play a huge role in doing so.
Today I had a sneak peak of the Government Digital Services website, due to launch this week. The most striking thing about the restructure in Government is how it seems to be taking a leaf out of the book of services such as Giffgaff – use open-source technology, be constantly evolving and listen to feedback.
The full result of the changes, led by Martha Lane Fox, will be unveiled this week, but in a similar story to Giffgaff, they should wield millions of pounds in savings.
Not all organisations can suddenly put the community at the heart of the business, but the fact that the Government is taking a crack at it shows that all businesses could do with rethinking the way they are structured.
There is a strong case from Giffgaff for other businesses to try and be more nimble and hands-off – the key is sometimes to simply provide people with the tools to take action themselves.