In theory, Needle would be about taking customer advocacy to the next level, by partly 'fan-sourcing' both the sales and customer service platforms for online businesses.
Needle claims to be able to tap into an existing fan base, train it up to be able to sell your product or service, and then allows them to do it online from wherever they are.
'Customers want to know how your product applies to them. They want their questions answered live by an expert who speaks their language, and whose suggestions they can trust. Trained experts on the Needle platform engage customers by asking qualifying, relevant questions, such as "How will you be using this product?" and "What kind of other accessories do you already wear?" A Needle chat offers the equivalent of having a personal shopper giving real-time reviews and recommendations to your customers based on rich, interactive dialogues.'
I'm inclined to file this in the same drawer as alternative customer service channel Insidr, which we featured in December, and indicative of a genuine trend developing.
Another one to keep an eye on.