So here we are in 2008. All the well-intentioned plans made last year abandoned as we battle with new economic and political conditions.
One of the most interesting insights from 2007 was the fact that service and marketing are still separate functions, doomed to travel to the same destination but along different roads. One would have thought that the twin pressures of increasing revenue and reducing costs would have forced them to work together – but no. Perhaps they think a miracle will happen – that by sheer chance the two would look totally joined up to customers? One thing is sure, the pressures on costs will drive more and more companies to employ segmentation and use automation wherever possible.
The Internet is a wonderful invention but I fear it has deflected management attention away from solving the real issue of the integration and alignment of pre and post sale activities to create consistency. Nevertheless it does offer companies, particularly small and medium sized ones, access to the world market in a way never before possible. We instinctively think of the web for marketing but increasingly we are seeing the web used for service and not just for online access to manuals, support, FAQs and questions to the faceless support team.
We are now seeing the proliferation of ‘co-creation’ where customers and suppliers get together to design the new generation of products and services. It is not rocket science that existing customers not only know the existing products and services but they clearly have a need, some brand loyalty and likely to be repeat purchasers. So who better to ask for input about the new generation of products? And of course it’s not only more likely that you will design successful products and services, it’s also a cheaper way to do it!
This is what the web was designed for – this is the social web at its best. But I think, or perhaps hope, that 2008 will see a new proliferation of social web interaction in the area of service. Using the same logic as product development, existing customers are the best people to provide instant feedback on issues, provide suggestions and even help other customers with problems. Customers will love it because they can interact online, show off their prowess and earn discounts for new products and services – which means built in customer retention. The result will be better service for lower cost. I can’t imagine any VP of Service wanting anything different. So what’s stopping it happening?
What do you think? Please respond to this blog and let’s get the debate going. Service has been to quiet for tool long. Happy New Year to all my readers.