I have been analyzing the data from my recent Customer Service Magic Quadrant that was published in March. There are about 375 references in the database, and they include businesses/organizations/ government agencies and universities from most of the world. This is still only the tiniest fraction of the world’s contact centers, so let’s not go crazy with what I am opining here, but it is interesting: email is dead. Dead in the way a ship’s sails are in the Doldrums – those weird and annoying northeast and southeast tradewinds that meet at the equator and suck the life out of any forward ship movement. The combination of chat, advanced self service and knowledge cases, together with community case / problem identification and resolution… and now Twitter, mean that email as a way of customers contacting us for support will begin a slow slide. That isn’t to say it will disappear, but it will take on a Zombie state of the undead.
Customers want more immediacy, and email never lived up to that standard. Most companies failed to establish reasonable service levels. How much fun can it be for a customer to email a business and never know exactly what to expect as a response time? Most businesses never gave the customer the courtesy of emailing them back with an estimated time to reply, or status updates. Compare that to a forum or a community. And forget about Twitter speed. The data is showing that most companies are giving up on email as any sort of cornerstone in a support strategy. They are getting better at feeling out the customer base to determine when to offer a Tweet, and when to offer FAQ with advanced search, and when to have an avatar pop up onto the web to offer help. Asking the community, and analyzing satisfaction scores, and constantly tweaking and iterating is what is winning the day.
Are you seeing the same trend?