I’ve been reading about the use of Klout within a customer service context, in particular Assistly’s decision to adopt Klout as their ‘standard for determining online influence‘.

This move, along with the increasing use of sentiment within customer service, continues the ongoing blurring of the lines between customer service and marketing. Silos are being eroded at the point at which social cuts across them.

I believe that understanding sentiment and influence has a place within customer service. Services like Klout have a role to play. They provide a more contextual view, and in so doing ultimately may result in a more relevant outcome for both customer and company.

Where caution may need to be exercised, however, is ensuring that the experience and its associated resolution do not become defined by incidental drivers.

That a particular customer complains should be treated in terms of what the complaint is and not because of their Klout score, the fact that it was Tweeted rather than emailed, their number of followers, the real-time nature of Twitter (what does ‘real time’ mean anyway?).

That a particular customer has a high Klout score and by assumption a greater influence (let’s not confuse influence and reach, do we understand what each is?) and possibility to turn the situation into a firestorm should not be a determinant of the type of service they receive. If the same person with the same complaint uses email instead, how would it be dealt with?

Matthew Thomson, the ‘chief biz dev guy at Klout’ writes on a blog post by Justin Flitter: I hear both sides of this argument a lot. Brands and businesses think of using our data to “scale” and “prioritize”, not to discriminate.

Where prioritising, in a way, promotes discrimination (first class travel), scaling neutralises that sense of discrimination to one of averages (economy class travel). And in my mind, businesses do discriminate in a sense when customers use social. A customer who complains via Twitter is likely to receive a more timely, relevant and personal end-to-end service than if they complain by email.

The challenge is not in designing a service experience for someone with a Klout score of 68, but how to translate that timely, relevant and personal end-to-end experience across all channels.

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