It’s 2015. Do you know where your customers are?


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It occurred to me while reading through a list of 15 Customer Service Trends for 2015 assembled by Richard Shapiro, president of The Center For Client Retention, that nine of the 15 trends are related to omnichannel: a seamless approach to a consumer’s experience through all available shopping channels (e.g., mobile devices, computers, physical stores, etc.). It’s difficult to imagine a scenario whereby omnichannel is optional for those companies expecting to remain relevant with consumers in 2015.

I’ve read that omnichannel is the realization of social business and I believe that’s correct. But it must, as the above definition states, be seamless. The opposite of seamless is disjointed or faulty. Too often, this characterizes the consumer’s experience in attempting to communicate with an organization. As Richard observes in his article:

“When consumers post a question or complaint on a brand’s social media site, the days of asking them to call you are coming to an end. Consumers expect a response in the same channel of communication. If your brand has a Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. page and you invite consumers to interact, then companies truly need to respond; that’s the definition of interaction.”

In addition to the obvious social media channels and review sites, organizations must also treat channels used to acquire customer feedback, whether web-based or paper surveys, with the same sense of urgency. Too often, customers take time to provide feedback only to be ignored. (This is one reason customer satisfaction survey response rates are so low.)

Consider the following Twitter exchange I had earlier this month with @IHGCare, the InterContinental Hotels Group’s Twitter response team:

This is a good example of Richard’s observation above that “consumers expect a response in the same channel of communication.” If IHG had simply acknowledged or, better yet, responded to my original feedback (obtained via its web-based guest satisfaction survey following my stay at the White Plains, NY Crowne Plaza hotel on Oct. 22nd), then there would be no need for @IHGCares to ask me to email “details” of my experience to them a second time, six weeks later.

What’s even worse than failing to accept responsibility for a faulty channel that fails to capture, archive, and share a customer’s feedback, is to then imply that it’s the customer’s responsibility to duplicate his efforts by resending details of his experience through a different channel in order to assure “proper documentation” for IHG. Do you see the irony of this request? What happened to the original “documentation” provided six weeks earlier through the satisfaction survey channel?

More than likely, this lack of continuity is caused by two different work groups performing two different functions using two different systems. Of course, this defies the “seamless approach” that defines omnichannel and disregards the trend that “consumers expect a response in the same channel of communication” as cited by Richard Shapiro.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steve Curtin
Steve Curtin is the author of Delight Your Customers: 7 Simple Ways to Raise Your Customer Service from Ordinary to Extraordinary. He wrote the book to address the following observation: While employees consistently execute mandatory job functions for which they are paid, they inconsistently demonstrate voluntary customer service behaviors for which there is little or no additional cost to their employers. After a 20-year career with Marriott International, Steve now devotes his time to speaking, consulting, and writing on the topic of extraordinary customer service.


  1. The observation Richard Shapiro made and shared by you is very pointed. Thank you. Although the findings may be geared toward large corporations, I believe that small businesses will benefit from the points in the report, but it will take some education, acceptance and a change in mindset so they understand that this is not only for “the big guys.”

    If their customers are following them on social media, they must implement a system to be able to respond to their questions and comments on the same media and within a reasonable time-frame. Of course, further communication can be taken off social media but the initial acknowledgment and response need to start there. An added bonus is that it’s an excellent way to enhance their online reputation management.

    Great article I enjoyed reading.

  2. Yvonne, great points re: the responsibility of small businesses to be responsive to their customers’ feedback/communication outreach – even when they may lack the sophisticated follow-up mechanisms of “the big guys.” Although some may contend that it’s easier for small businesses to appear responsive because customers’ feedback does not enter a multi-layered bureaucratic abyss. It generally enters a channel (email, voice, web…) that is closely monitored by someone who can respond to the feedback, answer the question, or solve the problem. This ability to be extraordinarily nimble and responsive is a very real advantage for small businesses that want to distinguish themselves from larger, plodding competitors.


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