Wordle: Changing roles of companies
I was just thinking to myself why I always start my posts with – I was thinking…

Anyways, this time I was thinking about the different roles a company now adopts within the social media customer service space: listener, participant, voyeur, bystander and creator.


Companies monitoring what their customers are saying about them


Companies actively responding to or engaging with their customers via social channels. From a customer service perspective, the emergence of social platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogs etc has seen the provision of customer service fragment and move outwards into the hands of customers themselves. Companies aware of this shift, have recognised the need to likewise move outwards, and as Jeremiah Owyang put it so succinctly – fish where the fish are.


Inextricably linked to the role of listener and participant. Perhaps this is a step before that of Bystander. In a sense, we are all voyeurs now, scanning the virtual ecosystems we have created for interesting people, interesting documents, interesting events. Seeking to satisfy our curiosity and fascination for what lies out there.


Following on from the role of Voyeur, we seek to identify events, mentions, people, opportunities that might have a bearing on us. We watch and wait for these events to unfold before our eyes. We follow mentions and see how they develop. From a customer service perspective, companies scan their ecosystems for mentions, potential firestorms, opportunities, looking out for triggers to help identify next moves. The Bystander ready to become Participant or simply revert back to Voyeur.


This is an interesting role for me, as I think it many respects it signals the biggest change for a company. Companies are no longer the sole creator of the platforms by which they communicate or engage with their customers.

Email, phone, fax, letter, store, live chat are all created by companies. If the company didn’t have a phone number you couldn’t call them, if they didn’t have an email address you couldn’t email them, if they didn’t have an address you couldn’t send them a letter; you get the picture. But that has all changed now with the advent of social media.

Independent but shared platforms which enable companies, customers and people to engage with each other. Yes, a company can brand its Twitter page, it’s YouTube channel, its Facebook page, but its control beyond that has diminished.

Anyone can take part in and contribute to this ‘conversation/help exchange’, because it is now out in the open. And that, in my view, is a far better place to be.