For the company, this volunteer army means less need for paid technicians.
...Customers were not only asking technical questions, they were often outshining Intuit's own tech support staff by answering 40% of the queries themselves.
...In early June the company said it is laying off 4% of its 8,000 employees. Executives say the job cuts didn't stem directly from Live Community's success, but Wilder points out that since Intuit's community outreach began, "the number of calls to our customer service lines has been reduced. We don't give out numbers, but there have been cost savings."
This is great for Intuit but for how long? If its customers realize that their enthusiastic participation in answering questions results in job losses will they continue to be as enthusiastic?
Also, volunteers do it because they feel like it and then they generally move on to something else. Relying on a fly-by-night army of volunteers could become a problem.
This is the same difference as between bloggers and journalists. Bloggers have a day job and they don't have to do it every day. Journalists do it every day (a great bumper sticker :)
What happens to Intuit, and any other companies emulating its example, when its volunteer army doesn't show up for work?