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Email is dead, taken out by Twitter, chat and communities.

by Michael Maoz  |  May 10, 2009  |  13 Comments

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?

Category: crm  customer-centric-web  innovation-and-customer-experience  

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Michael Maoz
VP Distinguished Analyst
13 years at Gartner
26 years IT industry

Michael Maoz is a research vice president and distinguished analyst in Gartner Research. His research focuses on CRM and customer-centric Web strategies. Mr. Maoz is the research leader for both the customer service and support strategies area and customer-centric Web… Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Email is dead, taken out by Twitter, chat and communities.

  1. prem_k says:

    After reading only the title I was about to refute you, but after reading the post I can’t but nod my head in agreement. :)

    Not that I am seeing the zombie state being reached anytime soon but certainly sooner than ever expected. Who would have thought Twitter would become such a disruptive force couple of years back or even a year back?

    However I do not see much activity/interest happening in our client base. Though there were a couple of queries around Q3 ’08, nothing much after that. Especially after the Lehman bros debacle.

    Don’t get me wrong. Many of them are indeed using the social media, but more as a marketing presence and that which is not integrated to their CRM processes/systems. So I don’t get to hear about them. :(

    May be they are so busy fortifying their existing processes & fighting to stay afloat that they are not yet thinking about “innovative” approaches?

    I am of course talking about the biggies, Fortune 500 types & mostly into B2B. Whats your opinion of this segment? Do you see them taking to social media in a big way any time soon?

    They are the ones with the biggest inertia & change management is going to be one huge effort. Especially since integrating Social into CRM essentially means a change in mindset first & foremost, one that has to do with incorporating “listening” into their CRM efforts, like you mentioned in your previous post about why Social CRM & Twitter will fail.

  2. […] or­i­gi­n­al he­r­e­:  Em­­ai­l­ i­s dead, t­aken out­ b­y T­w­i­t&#… Share and […]

  3. Anne Stanton says:

    SPAM killed/slowed down/ tripped up e-mail more than new technology. It is really a matter of if the general population (customer service reps as well as consumers, partners and CEOs as well as staff) can keep up with their e-mail.

    If in the habit of staying current on e-mail and having systems to file and retrieve easily exist then all the other technologies available today can’t beat the functionality I have found in e-mail.

  4. […] Email is dead, taken out by Twitter, chat and communities (No Ratings Yet)  Loading … […]

  5. George Sinkinson says:

    For the most part, you are correct. Twitter and other social networks actually help in the application development arena, with quick questions and answers.

    But isn’t there still a place for e-mail? For remote developers, delivery of final documentation is usually required. Not sure I’d want to deliver a Users Manual in 140 byte chunks…

  6. Phishing and spam is what largely killed email for business to consumer communications. Twitter has just started to see attacks against it – and Twitter appears to be even less attack resilient than email!

  7. […] (l’article en anglais sur le blog Gartner) […]

  8. Glenn says:

    I agree with your points. I disagree with your conclusion. More here:

    I’ll be reading…


  9. David Kay says:

    By email, do you mean really email ( or are you including all online case submission techniques? If the former, I generally agree. If the latter, I’m seeing exactly the opposite trend–not only for all the reasons Gary Ross brings up in his response, but also because online case submission is the logical entry point for many of the other resources you describe–smart knowledgebase interactions, forums searching and posting, chat interventions, etc. Call it “service experience management” or whatever–it all starts with presenting a need online.

    I live in the high-complexity tech support world–lower complexity, highly repeatable service issues may be different.


  10. […] “Taken out by Twitter, Chat and Communities,” opines Gartner Group’s Michael Maoz, saying, “Customers want more immediacy, and e-mail never lived up to that standard.” […]

  11. […] some time now, many, many people have spoken about how email is on the way out as a primary communication channel, and how […]

  12. […] emails.  Now I’m no suggesting that we should get rid of email (nor would I claim that  email is dead or even that you should take a day a week away from email), rather like PowerPoint, it should be […]

  13. […] consultant comme Michael Maoz du Gartner estime ici que les outils Web 2.0 (dont le très suspect Twitter que je n’affectionne pas au point […]

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