By michaelpace on July 6, 2011
While sitting on the white sand beaches of Cancun last week*, I was thinking about Foursquare’s announcement that they have reached 10,000,000 users. 10 MILLION users is not chump change. Now when you include other Location Based Services like Facebook Places (30-40M+), SCVNGR (1M+) and Gowalla (~2M), and then you add the users of “Whatcha Doing LBS Apps” like GetGlue, Foodspotting, Soundtracking and Instagram (8M+), you can begin to see the magnitude of open, vocal and sharing users (or customers). Furthermore, I began thinking about how the Customer Service world can leverage this technology to retain and thrill customers.
To date, much of the buzz around Location Based Services has been around its “Marketing” applications, and directed to “Marketing” professionals. But we all know incredible customer service and word of mouth advertising was the first Marketing (I doubt those of the oldest profession [Ahem] had marketing departments and budgets). So if you don’t understand and use LBS applications, it is time for Customer Service to get on the bandwagon because the possibilities are near endless.
Location Based Services allow users to indicate where they are, what they are doing and what they are seeing, most often using the GPS in a mobile device, and providing the access to comment via their social networks (such as Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and email). Having this real time information and sentiment of where someone is, what they are doing and sometimes how they feel are tremendous tools for Customer Service organizations.
Below are a few scenarios or use cases of how LBS tools can be used to create WOW Customer Service Moments:
Scenario: Customer walks into a large retail establishment, such as @wholefoods or @bestbuy, and checks in using Foursquare or Gowalla and tweets their status. Leveraging real time monitoring tools, a Social Customer Service Agent could acknowledge, thank and offer their services within minutes of arrival and become a mobile concierge for the customer. If the customer has a question of where an item is located in the store, or if they need more information about a product, the customer service agent is available and ready for their inquiries. It would only take one well executed use to secure that customer and potentially blow away their expectations. This example also works well for hospitality and event management industries.
Industry: SAAS – Software as a Service
Scenario: (Actual case) Customer indicates that they are “Thinking about creating their next Constant Contact Email Marketing newsletter” on GetGlue from their iPad. (Note: I am the Director of Customer Support for Constant Contact), and promotes their status through Facebook and Twitter. My Social Customer Support team uses Hootsuite to monitor Constant Contact mentions (and variations) in Twitter. Upon seeing the tweet, we will introduce ourselves, our handle (@CTCTHelp) and offer assistance if case they ever need it. About 20 minutes later, we received a response from our customer thanking us for our responsiveness and availability. This particular customer did not use our services for this particular email, but they did follow us. By following our help handle, we can give real time alerts to new product release offerings and issues, receive curated, relevant content to small businesses and links back into our most popular community discussions.
Industry: Yours (doesn’t make a difference)
Scenario: SCVNGR attempts to create a game layer on top of the world by using your location to mark a place where a “Challenge” is completed. For example, a customer can check-in to their local taqueria using SCVNGR, and complete a challenge of creating a foil goose with their burrito wrapper to earn points towards possible deals or honors. Schools and universities are using this challenge/gaming format to develop new and interesting ways to educate their students. Customer Service organizations can borrow the same idea as schools to educate their associates on social business, social media tools and how to use these collaboratively internally and externally. The future’s most powerful organizations will be the ones that integrate social’s best practices and disciplines throughout their daily activities to help the customer of today, and more importantly the one of tomorrow. Understanding your customers and serving where they are is a sure way to thrill them.
What other ways can Customer Service organizations leverage Location Based Services to create WOW Moments?
Location Based Services and other social tools are blurring the Customer Service/Marketing line more and more each day. Do we need to rethink how we structure our organizations to deliver retention and customer satisfaction goals? Do these tools help make the case?
For an incredible, inclusive resource on Location Based Services and Marketing, get in line and pre-order Michael Schneider and Aaron Strout’s book Location Based Marketing for Dummies.
(*Yes, I manage communities and customer service organizations and do take vacations – it is possible)
Note to my hardcore Customer Service brethren: Before I get a boat load of comments and replies about how we need to get the basics of customer service right first, cool your jets. I know that our discipline still requires more consistency in delivering to expectation, and know that if we are not looking and moving forward, we will be forever behind. It’s the balance that we all must strike.