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Market-Based Solutions to Vital Economic Issues
Research
Jan 23, 2019

Engaging Customer Care Employees In Internal Collaborative Crowdsourcing: Managing the Inherent Tensions And Associated Challenges

Abstract

Customer care employees (CCEs) are an excellent source of ideas for new and enhanced services for customers. By serving many customers, CCEs have the ability to see patterns in unserved and underserved needs. By being inside rather than external to the firm, CCEs have the ability to offer suggestions that build on existing capabilities, which result in ideas that are more easily implementable. There is a long history of research and practice for soliciting suggestions from employees, but little of this work has described how CCEs can be organized into a temporary online crowd to cocreate innovative ideas. With the advent of crowdsourcing software platforms, online collaboration among geographically distributed CCEs is increasingly possible. We describe an action research study of Optum, a healthcare company that implemented a collaborative internal crowdsourcing initiative over a period of 18 months. The action research study led to the identification of three tensions and associated challenges. We outline eight HRM actions that were undertaken to mitigate the challenges of engaging CCEs in internal crowdsourcing efforts. Based on our findings, we lay out a general framework, implications, and future research directions for research and managerial actions when engaging CCEs in internal collaborative crowdsourcing.


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