Satisfaction: crowdsource customer service

Bryce Roberts, one of the managing partners of O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures (OATV), sent in the news that
yesterday, Satisfaction announced their seed round of funding, which included OATV, along with First
Round Capital and various angels including Jeff Clavier and
Adaptive Path.

Satisfaction ( has developed a brilliant new approach to crowdsourcing customer service. Here’s how the company describes its mission:

“Satisfaction is people-powered customer service for everything. It’s a Web
service that uses “community-sourcing” to provide better support for
products and services, with or without company involvement. Satisfaction’s
open discussion-based system allows companies, their customers and partners
to work together to answer questions, identify problems and bugs, share
great ideas for how to make products better, and connect in unexpected

As our readers know, collective intelligence has been a reoccurring theme
here on the Radar. What we found compelling about Satisfaction was their use
of collective intelligence to redefine the relationship between a company
and its customers. Engaged customers have within them the experience and
opinions to become a company’s best source of customer support, marketing,
and R&D. This is a tremendous opportunity for companies
and curiously addictive for participants. Crowdsourced support via mailing lists has long been a characteristic of open source software and other early adopter tech products, but Satisfaction makes it easy for any company to build a self-service customer support ecosystem.

Any registered user can create a page for a company. Ideally, the company itself will create the page, but even if it doesn’t, it can “claim” the company entry and have its employees watch and participate. Once a company page exists, anyone who wants to start a topic simply asks a question on that company’s page. Other customers (or a company representative) can answer. And readers can then let others know if the answer gave them satisfaction or not. The most popular answers float to the top. There is also provision for answers from the company itself to be marked as “official.”

Here is the satisfaction page for O’Reilly Media. Here is a satisfaction page that was created for Foo Camp. As you can see, questions need not only be “problem” related. They could just be the result of customer curiosity. And that’s good. A company that has an engaged user base is usually much more successful.

You can also see how the idea of “company” is already stretching. Someone (in fact, Lane Becker from Satisfaction) created “foocamp” as a separate company, rather than a topic within O’Reilly. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or not. I could see the value of having, say, a top level page for each of our conferences, say, since a different team might want to watch that page, but I’m not sure a separate page for each of our many hundreds of books would be the right answer. And since any user can follow any question, I’m not sure that a separate “company” page is needed. But I can also see already how a company’s “satisfaction space” could get very crowded. I see some need for more than a two-level hierarchy (companies and questions.) We need at least provision for three levels: companies, products or services, and questions.

Time will tell the right way for this to scale out. It’s certainly true that if there are multiple pages for “products masquerading as companies” created by users, that Satisfaction will need to find some umbrella way to bring them all together. The other issue I see immediately is the need for an ajax widget and web services so I can put Satisfaction right onto

Bryce addressed the road ahead in his email to me:

Building transformational businesses is not for the faint of heart, and
there is plenty of work ahead for the Satisfaction team as they develop the
analytics and tools for companies to make the most of their customers’
collective intelligence. The team at Satisfaction is well equipped for such
a challenge as its lead by a terrific group of founders including Thor
Muller (Rubyred Labs, Valleyschwag), Lane Becker (Adaptive Path, MeasureMap)
and Amy Muller (Rubyred Labs, Valleyschwag).

We suggest you go get some of your own Satisfaction and let us know what you

P.S. Newsweek has a great piece on some of the early success stories coming out of Satisfaction.