The distinctions we’ve been making for the past few years between the different approaches to customer service – traditional customer service, social customer care, self-service – all seem to be organically levelling out in favour of a type of ‘digitisation’ of customer service (as opposed to ‘digital customer service’)

Customer service, customer experience, customer engagement seem to be somewhat more interchangeable than they were a year or two ago. I’ve also been seeing the use of the term ‘systems of engagement’ more and more

I am seeing the rise of a larger play emerging under the banner of ‘service transformation’

Many organisations are still transfixed by the pursuit of ROI, still trying to find the right things to measure. Do you actually know what you want to measure? Do you measure experience or efficiency? Outcome or the process to get there? Do your customers care? What do your customers actually care about?

I’ve always found the term ‘self service’ an interesting one, especially when organisations are faced with the challenge of not knowing how the customer will structure a question, and the customer has no idea how a company will structure an answer. Words are lost between the question and the answer

I’m still not sure why companies simply don’t offer their customers a Google search box on their ‘Help’ home page. Pride? Customers don’t go to your web site to find an answer, they go to Google, YouTube, Twitter, their friends. Companies need to wake up and understand their customers. And yes, I am being a little bit flippant; but only a little

I’ve seen so many surveys on response times: 39% of customers expect to be answered within an hour on Twitter, while 47% expect to be answered within two hours on Facebook… I know I don’t really care if it takes ten minutes, 30 minutes, five hours or two days to resolve my request for help or my complaint, but please acknowledge me, keep me updated on progress and occasionally smile (yes, I can hear a smile). Unfortunately, you don’t measure the smile

Has ‘self service’ become a convenience? A dumping ground? A counterpart in crime to call deflection? I want you to self-serve because it’s an easy way out. I want you to self serve because it will save me money. I want you to self-serve because it serves my purpose

Our ability to deliver customer service evolves as the technology becomes more sophisticated, more complex, more responsive… how long do I have to wait? But at the end of the day, no matter how much money you have invested in the most agile, most responsive, most up-to-date system, you still have to resolve my issue!

The ability to understand the context why a customer contacts us is becoming more attainable. The ability to engage with the customer in the experience, in the context of the experience, to close down the complaint, to pre-empt the question, is here: now

The time lag between the cause of the complaint, the complaint and the response is ever decreasing. The time lag between the request for help, the offer of help, the help itself is ever decreasing. But how do you design your response or your offer of help? This is not a criticism. This is an evolution. We now have the opportunity to re-design, re-engineer not just the actual service process, but our service philosophy as well. Do you dare? Do you dare redesign, re-engineer with context in mind, with the right service philosophy driving the experience? Do you dare? Do you dare be bold to redesign your offer of help for the person standing in the queue waiting to be served? Or do you ignore them or just wait until they get to the front of the queue? The decision may be yours, but don’t be surprised if your customer walks away or your competitor jumps in to your queue and offers their brand of help!

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I’m tired of customer service cliches and soundbites: social customer care is not the new marketing, the new black, the new frontier

I’m tired of scare stories: Yes, “United Breaks Guitar” did happen. Yes, Eurostar could have handled itself better in 2009. Yes, Emirates could probably have done more during the severe fog cover a few months ago. But you know, these things aren’t business as usual. They are exceptions, they happen, we learn, we move on

I’m tired of best practice: What is best practice? If we all practiced it, we’d all be the same: homogenous. We would elevate the mundane, the routine, instead of trying to rise above it. Perhaps best practice as a philosophical construct is worth considering; maybe not? I prefer common practice; perhaps that’s just as bad! Whatever you practice, just be sure to make it yours. Your sense of empathy, the empathy you show your customers, make it yours, it is not learnt, it is not a formula: it is not best practice

I’m tired of the same stories. Perhaps we simply need to change stories every now and then? But do we dare?

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I’m not sure if self-service and FAQs reflect by proxy all the problems a company refuses to fix, or simply a reflection of all the questions a customer has asked in the past? Perhaps it is somewhere between the two…

Will Google become a customer service platform by accident, design or appropriation: Google search, Google Hangouts, YouTube, Google+…

To truly unlock customer service and free it up from its traditions, to truly unleash a new service model of engagement, perhaps we need to free it from its knowledge base in some way. What could Snapchat and the idea of impermanence teach us about freeing up a knowledge base? Impermanence is about making decisions, where permanence requires no decisions to be made. Permanence leads to staleness, reliance, comfort and security, a lack of change, a lack of the need to change…but it also results in complacency

Time for a coffee…

 

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