Customer Service Myths, Half-Truths, and Total Nonsense....Continued

I got a lot of feedback from my last blog post, and I’d like to share my thoughts on each of these statements about customer service. I am sure my point of view is contentious, so please keep comments coming. It will force me to rethink my stance. I’ll cover each of my categories in a separate blog post.

Social Customer Service Myths




Reason behind my POV

Social CRM is giving customers control



Paul Greenberg defines social CRM as the The "company's programmatic response to the customer's control of the conversation." Its about the company taking hold of the reins of the conversation, not the other way round.

Have a look at what Paul Greenberg says here about this topic:  

Twitter works for customer service


It sometimes does if the answer can be communicated in 140 characters. It shows that you, as a company are listening and acting on comments.

However, instead of engaging in customer service over Twitter, it is often more effective to take the conversation offline to a more suitable communication channel based on the issue at hand and the customer’s channel preference.

Twitter does work for proactively communicating with your followers. For example, Vmware pushed out proactive knowledge to their 6000+ followers over tweets, helping deflect calls into their call center.

I don’t need to interface my social processes with traditional customer service processes


Your social channels, and social processes are just an extension of the traditional channels that you already support. Every interaction, done over social and traditional channels should be viewed as an opportunity to strengthen your brand by providing the same knowledge, data and service experience to your customers. This is especially important if you are in a space of selling undifferentiated products and services.

If I have a forum, I don’t need a knowledgebase


A forum is a great place for customer-generated information; for example best practices, how-to information, success stories etc. It is not the place for company-sanctioned information like policy and procedure information which belongs in a knowledgebase.

Best practice is to have not one or the other but both a forum and a knowledgebase which are deeply integrated.

If I have a social listening platform, I don’t need to do surveys


You need both, not one or the other. Nobody can say this better than Esteban Kolsky, a former Gartner analyst and  SCRM expert. Check his blog out on this topic here:


Customer Service - the debate

I agree with your points and you make an excellent reference to Paul Greenbery who quite rightly points to the need of implementation and sharing best practice. Customer service of course is a debate as Paul Greenberg highlights is a philiosophy and a business strategy. For many orgnaisations the context of social CRM has to be debated in terms of continuing with legacy systems SAP/Siebel and processes or moving to more agile 'cloud' based systems. Another strategic lens is understanding the organisational, cultural and structural role of social technologies. There are many views here that consider devolving decision making, collaboration and sharing of information. CRM in this context is one part of a bigger jigsaw. Clearly organisational change in light of social customers is demanding new questions of organisations and practical answers and plans are needed to move them forward. The debate on semantics over Social CRM is; however the debate as to how an organisations harnesses these technologies now and uses them effectively is beginning.

We are working on many projects involving these technologies and so for us the strategy is driving the implemantation but it is in the detail of organsational capabilities and the wider context that we structure the solutions.

Customer service - the debate

I've only just picked up on the blogs - six days is a lifetime in social!

Had a quick look at the first post and many of the comments seemed to pick up on Twitter, which is interesting; ignoring the multichannel and KM pieces.

This post focusses on the idea that channels/tools aren't exclusive, and the use of one doesn't automatically imply that it replaces something else. Just because you use Twitter, forums or listen doesn't suddenly mean that you can stop your other activities. Channels and tools sit alongside each other and it is from the rich variety that we now have at our fingertips that we can choose one, some all or none to help us understand what we want to understand.

In the same way, if you offer customers ten channels they'll use all ten channels. Just because you offer them Twitter doesn't suddenly mean that's all they'll use for thier customer service queries. See how your parents or grandparents use the different channels out there, and then see how your children use them.

Customer service - the debate

Channel choice is an interesting debate. I always think that you need to do the following:
1) Figure out what channels your customers want to use. If you have a premier demographic, you may not want to support, say a virtual avatar - you may want to focus on the high-touch channels.
2) Figure out what channels your company can support, from a business process perspective, and excel at offering customer service on these channels so it is consistent and upholds your brand value
3) Put escalation points between channels so that a customer can always be escalated to a live agent

To me, its not about offering a smorgarsboard of channels. Its about choosing the channels that your customers want, and that you can do a good job at, and supporting these channels to the best of your abilities. And, back to Guy's comment - I agree. If you build it, they will come. But they wont abandon the old channels.

Well said

"Its about choosing the channels that your customers want, and that you can do a good job at."

Bravo. That's exactly right.

Matt Trifiro

Social CRM and customer control


Are you saying social media and personal blogging platforms have not given customers new-found power? Or is your point about Social CRM and customer control something different?

I think back to the seminal TARP data in the early 80s where they calculated that a single happy or disgruntled customer held influence over about 10 people, and I then think about how customers communicate today. It seems that today's customers have one to two orders of magnitude more velocity and reach, when it comes to offering up praise and complaints -- and while I might not call this "control," it does strike me as a meaningful increase in power and influence.