Walk A Mile In His Shoes


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This post was inspired by Phil Simon’s post yesterday on Mike 2.0, the open source standard for information management, as well as many other blogposts. Phil’s post talks the poor customer experience that is created when members of the organization (across departments or even in the same department) do not have access to the same information and aren’t working from the same place. Needless to say, this is beyond frustrating to customers.

We all have had this experience (and many of us have it daily) where we call in, type in our account number, talk to an automated receptionist, get routed to someone in customer service, provide all the same info (again!), state our problem (again!), only to find out that we need to talk to another department because they are the only people with access to that particular piece of information we seek. Aaaaahhhhhh!!!! And then we get to wait on hold, get transferred, state our account number (again!), mother’s maiden name, childhood pet’s name, and state the problem (again!). I am exhausted after just reading the sentence I wrote; how about you? Unfortunately this is the customer service reality, and it’s coming to a phone near you.

Companies are developing their social support channels in addition to these more conventional phone methods, but sometimes they wrongly interpret social media as just another way to send people to the 800 number or generic landing page, where that poor experience repeats. As I posit in this post, it’s not enough, and the social customer is not looking for another “get off my back” type of message; rather, the social customer expects you to work with your colleagues to solve problems for her. This will never happen if you don’t know how to work together. Well, that’s simple! You get paid to work together with your colleagues! Not so simple… Are you sharing information? Are you sharing it dynamically? Are you looking at the customer record the same way? Are you even looking at the same record? Are you able to not only look at this information, but can you edit it and have that change propagate immediately through all the systems it affects? What about blending the notes from the customer’s social and “traditional” conversations with the company? How much automation is good vs. creepy? And where do you even need automation?

Let’s consider a fictitious example. Mike buys a laptop computer. He places his order online and provides his phone number, email and address. He receives automated tracking when the computer leaves the warehouse, marks the date on his calendar and patiently waits. When the day comes, the computer never arrives. He tweets in frustration that his [insert brand name] computer isn’t there. Within a couple of hours, he gets a response on Twitter stating that they looked into his particular problem, found what went wrong, wrote him an email detailing what happened and next steps. He checks his email, finds out that the confirmation number was wrong, and his laptop actually went to another customer. He got another laptop rushed to him, to be received first thing next morning. All of this was done by cross-referencing his Twitter data with his internal record, and via a process that let the customer service rep contact the shipping and warehousing department to figure things out and get him a new rush order. All of this was done behind the scenes in a matter of hours, and Mike didn’t have to follow up his tweet with a call if he didn’t want to, and he didn’t have to retell his story twice. He was met where he was, and his tweet got automatically attached and cross-referenced with his data, automatically routed to the customer service rep, as well as someone in shipping. When customer service sent him an email and tweeted him, that was automatically captured by his record, and outstanding issue was logged as resolved when Mike responded via Twitter that he received it.

Mike was happy about the service he received so he praised [brand name] for its service on Twitter and Facebook, after which the company twitter team alerted him to its feedback forum, where he could to share his thoughts on the product and feedback for enhancements. One of these thoughts was around what Mike wanted in his next netbook / tablet / highly portable computer. In company forums, he helped the product team shape the vision, and was able to collaborate not only with the brand’s reps, but also with other customers and consumers via the same forum. Collectively, they helped the brand define a product with which they could create value, and along with mass analysis of all social media mentions and traditional call center notes (to uncover main pain points and points of satisfaction), these forum entries helped shape the next product. Because Mike travels quite a bit, which the company knew, because Mike often blogs about computers, and because he was instrumental in shaping the direction of the product, the company sent him the first version of this new netbook. He was able to blog about it, and about the revolutionary listening and learning system that led the company to this product. In return, the brand got a loyal customer for life, and not because they gave Mike a free computer; they got his loyalty way before. They got his loyalty because they really listened, helped Mike when he needed help, and didn’t push a product on him that he didn’t need, but rather collaborated with him and others like him. The company developed customer-centric processes at every touchpoint: customer support, fulfillment, shipping, product design, PR / influencer outreach. They shared data seamlessly and dynamically, regardless of department; their one objective was to optimize Mike’s experience. They honed in on their internal collaboration processes, as well as external ones. They really walked a mile in Mike’s shoes, anticipated what he may want, what the touchpoints could be, and what information could help them get there.

Photo source: ul_Marga

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Maria Ogneva
I'm the Head of Community for Yammer, the enterprise social network used by 100,000 organizations, including more than 80% of the Fortune 500. At Yammer, she is in charge of social media and community programs, fostering internal and external education and engagement. You can follow her on Twitter at @themaria or on her blog, and Yammer at @yammer and company blog.


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