zibbet-logoEarlier this month we covered how LazyMeter scaled with their huge launch. But how do you scale customer support as your popularity (and cash flow) build slowly? Zibbet does it by paying a passionate community member to contribute.

Zibbet is an online marketplace for handmade sellers. Launched in 2009, they have $60,000 in angel capital…and three employees total. Their gradual success has been a double-edged sword: with over 4,700 active users, they can no longer do support themselves. What started as a small amount of work grew to two distracting, distributed hours a day that took away from development. Productivity wasn’t happening, but they weren’t at the point where they could hire a full-timer.coffee and yarnSolution? Find someone qualified and inexpensive, and build a simple framework to ensure quality. We don’t approve of unloading support on your community, but Zibbet has found a unique way to tap their community for help: they’ve hired one of their passionate community members – a 54-year-old lady in Florida named Vicki – who gets paid per point she gets on the UserVoice Leaderboard.

“The points allow us to ensure quality and track performance,” says CEO and founder Jonathan Peacock. ”You get more points for fast replies and kudos, so Vicki is rewarded for providing good, timely customer service, which is one of the things we pride ourselves on at Zibbet.”

Is it worth the money? “Absolutely. It’s saving us a day’s work of development time a week. She knows the system better than us because she uses it to sell her own goods. She can answer issues more efficiently, which allows us to work on the actual product.” Additionally, they have her put that hands-on experience to use writing up documentation.

Vicki isn’t an island, though – all complex tickets go to the founders, so they can dig in and she doesn’t have to get stressed out by her part-time occupation. It’s a symbiotic relationship that is helping Zibbet succeed, despite their small team and big community.

Photo courtesy of cafemama.