The beautiful collision of social media and customer ingenuity


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I was reading a couple of posts recently in which some things really resonated (I’m not a fan of the word ‘resonated’, but can’t think of another word at the moment). Perhaps it was more the combination of words that struck a chord. I’m hoping I can also escape the overuse of clichés tonight!

‘Beautiful collision’: What is happening around us is a ‘beautiful collision’ of our natural instincts to share and talk about things and the development of technology that allows companies to talk to customers where they are, using the platforms that they are using. [Source: Adrian Swinscoe, True customer engagement is not based on click throughs or contests – interview with Wendy Lea, CEO of Get Satisfaction]

‘Elegantly disruptive’: All of this, Wendy believes, is ‘elegantly disruptive’ to our traditional way of doing business… [The ‘Wendy’ being referred to is Wendy Lea, CEO of Get Satisfaction. This quote follows on directly from the one above]

I also remembered this interview with @WendySLea because I’m a fan of any post that mentions The Cluetrain Manifesto.

‘Customer ingenuity’: All this to tell you that I think SAP (under Sameer’s leadership) seems to have cracked the code to build the social infrastructure for a collaborative enterprise … In other words, I saw how the collaborative enterprise begins to take shape. Yes, many more use cases and examples are necessary – but they are not building use cases – they are building infrastructure. The rest requires customer ingenuity to work. [Source: Esteban Kolsy, ThinkJar, Can SAP Really Get Social This Time?]


So what is it about these three phrases – ‘beautiful collision’, ‘elegantly disruptive’ and ‘customer ingenuity’ that made me remember them?

I’m not sure if truth be told.

But for me they sum up some of the changes that are taking place around me now. They humanise this change, they add a degree of sensitivity and intimacy that may not have been there when The Cluetrain Manifesto was written. They acknowledge the fact that I at last have the ability, the opportunity to make changes. To erode, to whittle away, to question the once impregnable notion of the organisation as monolith.

I do not seek your consent, your permission to make these changes. If truth be told, I have no real idea what these changes might be, what the actual result of these changes is. Serendipity will be my guide. Do I dare? Doubt is ever present, but so is faith. Because I have seen, experienced something better.

Collision and disruption are harsh words, violent words. They are menacing and brooding, dark. They imply change. There can only be one outcome, it is impending, known, implied. Foreboding. The result of them will be something that is different. Things will never be the same again. They unbalance, they question. The status quo, the familiar, what we know, today, will not be there in a moment, tomorrow, next week, or even in a second. This is not some kind of gradual romanticised decay that reminds us of the fate of Ozymandias.

Beautiful and elegantly are words that we might not immediately associate with collision and disruption. How can disruption or collision be elegant or beautiful? The result might be beautiful or elegant, but the process less so. These combination of words do not sit easily together. There is a certain uneasiness, an ever present friction.

And what of customer ingenuity? This thought gives us all hope. The hope that something better lies beyond the platform. It gives us the possibility that we might once again think, think for ourselves. The thought that the platform can only take us so far, the rest of the journey is in our hands; as it should be. But once again, do we dare?

But this thought frightens us. It makes us nervous and anxious. We have relied for so long on being told, knowing that which is familiar, structured. We have relied on knowing the answer before we set out. How can I possibly turn my back on these things? How can I possibly turn my back on things that are so ingrained in me, in my way of thinking, doing, behaving, that I don’t even know any more they are there. I don’t even know any more I do them. I am so accustomed to being given handbooks, instructions and guides written by others, that I have forgotten how to write my own. I have lost the art, the skill…

But perhaps now we have the opportunity to relearn these things, to relearn lost skills… If social media does no more than cajole us, provoke us, remind us of these things that we have forgotten, become complacent about, then, perhaps, it has done its job and that is enough.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Guy Stephens
Guy is a social customer care trainer/consultant who has been in the social customer care space since 2008. He is also the Co-founder of Snak Academy, which provides online social customer care microlearning for individuals and SMEs.


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