Online Customer Support Communities: Multiple Case Study on Encouraging Consumer Participation

Patrick Michael Kriegler

Student thesis: Master thesis


The study begins by introducing the concept of firm-hosted online consumer support communities as a new way for firms to provide effective customer support to customers by leveraging exceptional customer knowledge and providing a platform where customers can come together to discuss and provide product support for one another. However, little is understood about consumer behavior in the context of these communities. The focus of the study is to explore the key factors that can potentially motivate and encourage consumers to provide contribute and thus, provide customer services to their peers in these communities. In order investigate this, literature in brand communities, open-source economics, consumer co-creation and intrinsic motivation were reviewed to shed light on consumer behavior in these online community contexts. Using methods in qualitative thematic coding analysis, a exploratory case study of five consumer support communities, representing four national markets within the telecommunications industry (Vodafone UK, Vodafone Australia, Sprint, Verizon and Rogers), is conducted to provide evidence in support for previous research and theory in the empirical context of the community contents. The findings of the case study identified several likely factors that are key to encouraging contribution to such communities. The study findings provide evidence that strong social cohesion, peer recognition and hedonic factors such as intrinsic motivation are the keys to encouraging participation in such communities. Based on these findings from the exploratory case study, several propositions are presented for future testing and confirmation.

EducationsMSc in International Marketing and Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2012
Number of pages94