It’s snowing outside at the moment and I just tweeted the fact using the hashtag #uksnow and scoring it 2/10. This is an insignificant observation. Although when used within the #uksnow context, takes on more significance; but that’s a different blog post for another day.

I wouldn’t call a friend up to let them know it was snowing here (unless they were coming to seem me), but I’m happy to tweet it via my smartphone to anyone and no one in particular. This is interesting to me on two accounts.

Firstly, it implies I have over time constructed an unconscious hierarchy of platform relevancy depending on what I want to communicate. Perhaps, hierarchy isn’t actually quite the right word as it implies a fixed order of platform, where one is higher or lower than another and in my mind, this order of platform doesn’t exist. Hierarchy also implies the idea of importance or something that denotes one quality above or below another. Perhaps what I should do is concentrate more on the message side of things. Perhaps the idea of hierarchy lies with the message I want to convey. I unconsciously choose the most appropriate platform by which to communicate dependent on the level of importance I personally attach to the message.

Secondly, it highlights a change in behaviour. The smartphone is no longer simply a gadget used to verbally communicate with someone. In the past, the telephone was used to call someone I knew or knew of, someone whose telephone number I had or was given. There was an implied familiarity. That familiarity no longer necessarily exists. The smartphone, via text or apps, can now be used in a very different way to communicate a message to people I have never met, never spoken to and may never meet or speak to.

So now that I have briefly set the scene, this is what I was thinking about a moment ago: What is the implication of the inevitable mainstreaming of social within customer service from a measurement perspective? It is likely that metrics will need to be redefined in light of this change in behaviour.

Think about the customer service metrics you currently use. Many of them focus on the telephone call. The telephone call is used as a benchmark to compare the performance of other channels – the cost of a call vs the cost of email vs the cost of chat, call deflection rates etc.

But if a customer is now using their smartphone to text or tweet, what are the implications of this ‘socialisation’ of customer care?

  • Information may need to be packaged (curated?) in very different ways that reflects the characteristics of text-based or ‘social’ help and the possibility for it to be exchanged and distributed an infinite number of times
  • Customer service via the smartphone happens in much closer proximity to the event (ie. complaint or question) itself
  • The customer service interaction takes place within a public space
  • Emotion is now a part of customer service
  • People help people via their smartphone

Ultimately, this may in time move organisations away from traditional drivers such as call deflection or interpreting customer service channels in light of the supremacy of the phone in favour of the idea of contact effectiveness and effort: Did the customer achieve what they set out to achieve given the channel(s) available to them?

This also implies they are aware of the channels available to them. But that is another question altogether.