This question stems from a response Lyle Fong gave to Ray Wang in an interview back in 2011. In the interview, Lyle posed the question: “What happens when we treat customers as part of the company?”
Seems a simple enough question. So, playing on this theme I pose another question in this way: “What happens when you let your customers design their customer service?”
What does this mean for you? For your customers? For your existing customer service? What does this mean for all the systems you have in place? What does it mean for your agents? What does it mean for your knowledge base? What does it mean..?
What would happen if you asked your customers to design the service that they want to receive?
What would happen if you asked your customers to decide where to put the touchpoints?
What would happen if you let your customers use your systems, or decide which systems you should provide?
What would happen if…?
Imagine. Imagine if you only built the customer service that your customers needed
Imagine if you only designed that bit of customer service for where your customers needed it
But actually, the point is not in the asking of the question, although that reflects a boldness that the majority of organisations simply do not possess. The point is neither in the imagining. The point is in recognising that your customers are doing this to some degree anyway already.
Are they doing this because they can? Are they doing this because of the current service they receive? Are they doing this in spite of you?
It doesn’t really matter what the reasons are.
The point is that your customers are doing this. They’re doing it because they can. They don’t need to ask your permission anymore…
The point is that companies like Google, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Vine, even Snapchat, are helping your customers simply do this without you. They are helping your customers create a type of customer service that is on the fly, reusable, personal, local, always available, scalable. A customer service of intimacy that meets their needs when they need it.
There is no operational efficiency involved. No AHT involved. No business case to make. And yet it is the most responsive, efficient and personalised customer service that exists.
Perhaps it’s worth asking the question: What happens when you let your customers design their customer service? Because in the end it’s their customer service. Isn’t it?