Enoclophobia in Customer Service?

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(disclaimer: the following is not intended to defame, denigrate or disparage in anyway people suffering from this or any other physical or intellectual affliction.)

The fear of crowds.  In the context of crowdsourcing and community-based or customer-led service, I got the sense this past week that there are pockets of this condition within customer service.  And I’m challenged to understand why.  So, I come here seeking a different point of view.

Some of the things people who really suffer from this, in some cases, completely debilitating condition fear will happen when in a crowd include:

  • Being trampled to death
  • Getting lost in a massive crowd of people
  • They feel small and insignificant when surrounded by so many people

Could these be the same causes of this fear in customer service?

As a customer service professional, I think some of the reasons that you may be experiencing this fear are:

  • You may worry you’ll no longer be of value to your company or customers
  • You’re not certain your customers will get accurate information
  • Your company will reduce your pay. After all customers do this for free in the community
  • There is a potential for loss of control
  • The idea that someone, a customer, could possibly know more about your products than you

I get it.  It is a bit frightening.  There is however a difference between a healthy sense of trepidation and the paralyzing grip of phobia that manifests itself into a resistance to change.  Change is coming.  And this change is good.  The evidence is here and is mounting that supports the value of community-based service to the bottom line and the customer experience.

Because fear is driven in part from a lack of information, here is some references:

  • Groundswell – the seminal book about the social media revolution discusses many customer service community case studies

…And the list continues to grow.

So, how do we overcome our enoclophobia in customer service?

  • Take the reins.  Communities don’t run themselves.  They need moderation, care and feeding.  Be that resource that creates the community strategy and builds the community. 
  • Do more research.  Find out how other organizations are leveraging customers in service delivery.  Learn how those more mature models evolved.
  • Revisit the value proposition and strategy for customer service in your organization. If your customers are willing to perform the task that have pinned you into the “cost of doing business” corner in your organization, let them.  Create a different value proposition and purpose; like being internal consultants to remove organizational drivers of service demand. 
  • Embrace change and let go.

Your fear is real.  My intent is not to dismiss it.  It’s up to us though to manage the fear by leading and embracing change rather than trying to maintain control and be a barrier to it.  Knowledge is power.  Learn as much as you can about these trends and figure out your new value proposition.

    Republished with author's permission from original post.

    Barry Dalton
    Telerx Marketing
    Consumed by the pursuit of delightful service. Into all things customer loyalty and technology. My current mission is developing new service channels and the vision of the contact center of the future.

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