Back in 1999 it was next to impossible to hold a rational conversation about the salesforce automation product from Siebel Systems. If I failed to mention it during a call with a client as a strong shortlist candidate I would be grilled as to my competency. I would sound lame offering my ‘but one size does not fit all’ rejoinder.
Going into the second half of 2010 I am feeling the same way about social software for use in customer service. The client may have a gaping, oozing incompetency around some part of the customer service interaction that requires urgent care, but still they would rather skip that part of the competency drill and discuss social software and Social CRM.
As common sense lie bleeding, and me pleading, many customer service teams, as well as marketing teams, want to focus on the low value, high visibility project. I have one insight as to why this is so. First a caveat: I am a strong proponent of building greater competency around social engagement with customers, employees and partners. My hesitancy is more around the positioning of a ‘social’ project in the hierarchy of first, second, third, fourth in order of importance.
Why would so many of us suddenly catapult Social CRM to the fore? I was cleaning my inbox this weekend during halftime of the Celtics/Magic Eastern basketball Finals, and at the bottom of the bin was a 2007 report from one of the world’s largest and most respected IT Consulting and Services firms. This company does outsourcing, strategies, and technology implementations for many of the largest organizations on the planet. The report was about keeping customers happy and loyal. The top reason they stay loyal, according to the report, was good customer service, followed by price, convenience and product.
What was it about customer service that was most important? 1) the ability of an agent to resolve an issue without forwarding you on, 2) time to resolution, 3) quality of interaction and solution, 4) the service agent’s manner/personality.
What was not mentioned 36 months ago? Collaboration, participation, engagement, social. Nowhere in the long document was anything around the topic mentioned by one of the most respected names advising global IT and operations managers. Did the entire world change this quickly? Or did 75 vendors in a new space, fueled by investor funds, crank up the volume so much about ‘Social’ that you can’t hear what your customers really want and need?
Net: push for greater customer engagement, while keeping a sense of balance and priority with other ongoing objectives. Use the facts, and use common sense.