I was reading/listening to @Jowyang‘s recent post/webinar – Video Replay: 10 Reasons Customer Care Has Changed and How to Build a Strategy. Whilst I may not agree with everything he says, he always makes me think and question my own thinking and assumptions.
As I was listening I made various notes and the two main thoughts I came away with were:
- The sooner companies stop making a distinction between social media strategy and business strategy the better. Yes, social has its own unique characteristics, but so too does email, telephone and IVR. Do I have an IVR strategy? Live chat strategy? Email strategy? Why would a company provide a fundamentally different resolution because it comes in through Twitter or Facebook or Google+, than it would if it came in via email or the telephone? If a company does respond differently what is the message it is sending out to its customers?
- Why should ‘responding to customers in the social channels reinforce the behaviour of complaining in public’? People complain! Whether they complain in public or private is irrelevant. What is important is how the company deals with the complaint. Not whether a complaint takes place in public or private spaces. By offering email are we training people to use email to complain in private? By offering the phone are we training people to use the phone to complain in private? By offering chat are we training people to use chat to complain on in private? If a company stops offering all of these channels are they training people not to complain? Companies get things wrong, the ability to complain is a form of constructive feedback. It is a type of conversation. It is a check and balance. Embrace your complaints wherever they might come in from. A company’s complaints are an opportunity to engage, to make something better. It may be the only time you are ever in contact with your customer. If a customer has taken the trouble to let you know you’ve got it wrong, take the trouble to listen. Focus on what is important.
The final thought I had was around whether customer care itself had changed, as the title of the post suggested. Personally, I don’t think customer care has changed. The same basic premise remains, the same basic process remains: customer has problem, company fixes problem. Whether customer care is the new marketing or the new black is of little meaning to your customer when their car breaks down, or they lose their credit card, or a delivery you promised them doesn’t arrive on time.
What has fundamentally changed, however, is the opportunity for companies to get down from their camels and openly engage with their customers. The question you need to ask yourself is not whether I can, but rather: do I dare?