By michaelpace on December 19, 2012
Complete, wild guess predictions and thoughts by my cousin Pacefucious about the trends in Customer Service for 2012.
Note: The practice of adding “in bed” may or may not work with the following fortunes.
Pacefucious said: “Transactional social customer service is like making out with pretty cousin” – I hope my crazy cousin isn’t talking about me, but he does have a point about social customer service (somewhere in there). I believe he is saying, you get your customer’s immediate need resolved, but you are not forming a relationship. Once a company receives a comment or issue (positive or negative), they should realize the customer has opened up a channel that you share. Just handling their immediate transactional need is good, following up with that customer with content that is of value to them, starts to create a relationship, and is phenomenal customer service. More about this kind of proactive customer service see Is Your Social Customer Service Missing the “Social” Point?
Rationale: Pacefucious is still ahead of his time on this prediction. 2012 did not prove to be the year that Customer Service and Support teams grabbed the social customer service brass ring. Per @marketingprof’s recent article “Top Brands Using Twitter for Customer Support”, only 23% of big brands have a dedicated Customer Service group. Don’t even get me started on how poor the response times and service levels appeared. You must be able to crawl before you walk, and Customer Support is still getting the basics of social media support down. Hopefully, this prediction will improve its accuracy in 2013.
Pacefucious said: “Social CRM platform is silver bullet made of ice” – In 2012, SCRM (definitions) will continue to be a hot topic, but currently it is overpriced (for this economy), overpromising and being mostly sold by people who still believe in traditional sales models and have no understanding of social business. Don’t get me or my cousin wrong, SCRM can and will be a very important tool for businesses, but I don’t think most businesses (or people running those businesses) will be ready for full blown SCRM tools. SCRM will not help you understand social business language, develop your strategy for using social media tools or establish governance. I would love to see more distributors or sales people of SCRM platforms get a firm understanding of social business and practices in 2012 before trying to sell their “silver bullets”.
Rationale: Pacefucious was correct on the economy, but was slightly harsh on the (S)CRM industry. Consolidation and platform integration has helped the large CRM companies broaden their product suite, but also brought in more people who understand social business and the needs of their customers. While Pacefucious’ prediction wasn’t his best, the industry is moving in the right direction.
Pacefucious said: “Benchmark data and metrics make your service taste like cheap Chinese food” – – I always get a little worried when people ask me if I have any benchmark data on customer service or contact center metrics. I will try to provide what I think a particular industry considers benchmark data (example: X% of calls answered in X seconds), but that is really just averages. If you are interested in average customer service, which pretty much sucks, benchmark data and metrics is perfect for you. If you are interested in providing outstanding service, go understand what your customer finds important or critical to quality, and deliver that and more.
Grade: You tell me
Rationale: How has any benchmark data helped you deliver awe-inspiring service? It usually gives you a number or metric that makes sense to do better. Be a differentiator, not a trend follower.
Pacefucious said: “Your customers will be your most valuable customer service agents” – I still find it puzzling that so many customer service organizations do not utilize communities to help solve their customers questions or problems. Some customer service organizations do not even have relationships with the people in their organization who manage their communities. I am not sure I have ever even been to a customer service conference where community management was a topic. Your customers, especially your advocates and superusers, have (collectively) considerably more knowledge than your support agents; why not let them help your customers too? I am not advocating for the end of phone or chat service (maybe email – see below), but having a shared community and knowledge base that can be added to and used by your customers is both incredibly efficient and can provide awesome service.
Rationale: A collective “AAAAHHHHH” is being shouted by community managers around the world. In 2012, the value of the community manager, their platforms, and the discipline of community management was beginning to be realized. Communities deliver more content for SEO, helps retain customers, educate prospects and new customers to gain the fullest out of your product, and provides your organization immense scale. The awareness, desire, and knowledge of communities still has tremendous opportunity within the Customer Support world, but innovative leaders are catching on fast.
Pacefucious said: “Email customer service sucks, your lucky numbers are 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42” – Again, don’t get my cousin wrong, email doesn’t suck, but customer service through email is RARELY good, and almost always includes extra work for your customers. Let’s take a typical email situation: question to company (waits), reply and clarification from company, customer clarifies (waits), company provides standard message to solve problem, customer needs more specific information, blah, blah, blah, blah etc… Now email can be valuable to a company as an off-business hour service, and possibly outsourced, but why even provide the subpar experience?
Grade: Not Rated
Rationale: Well, it really wasn’t a prediction, more of a customer service fact. Pacefu also did not guess the $500M Megaball numbers very well.
Pacefucious said: “Be social and transparent organization or soon no organization” – The companies that will succeed in 2012 and beyond will leverage social business principles internally and externally. It has already been proven during our recent recession; those companies that embraced social marketing and the use of social tools internally have performed significantly better. Those companies now also have an almost insurmountable time advantage over those companies who have not embraced the social organization. As I wrote earlier this year, I believe the social organization will be the most important advancement for business in the next 5 years – The Next Innovation in Social will come from … HR
Rationale: “…become a Social Business or die”, I don’t know if that was a mantra from 2012, but I did read it somewhere. While I agree, social business will be the next big business innovation, you probably won’t die. Traditional work organizational models have siloed departments, working on their individual goals to hopefully achieve a greater sum for the sake of acquiring and retaining customers. This model, generally, approaches internal and external customers as someone to talk at or to be spoken to. People, whether internal to your organization or external, are tired of being spoken to. Social Business is inclusive, collaborative and open. I believe people and relationships are every company’s most important and underutilized asset. We now have the technological ability to act/work/socialize/create relationships like we do in “real life”. By leveraging the relationships, new technology, and process, we can unleash the ultimate power – PEOPLE.
Big Prediction misses:
• Power of Visual Media (Instagram, Pinterest, Google+ changes, Facebook changes, etc…)
• Location Based Services pivot (less gamification, more exploration)
• Community funding – Kickstarter
• Mobile payments
• Mayan calendar
So, what does your fortune cookie say? (Don’t forget to add “in bed” afterwards)
Any other big prediction misses?
Pacefucious is only available via smoke signal or albatross mail, you can contact me with thoughts.
Image via Clutchcook