How customer service operations will transform themselves over the coming years is really a matter of pure math. Let’s examine how call centers work: “Here” is actually “there”—in India or the Philippines or Mexico—where massive facilities of people sit at desks with computers and phone headsets, fielding call after call from individuals around the world complaining of problems they’re experiencing with a product or service. Suffice it to say that if one person is having an issue with a product, then it’s likely many others are as well.
This model breaks down financially at some point. Solving a customer’s problem on a one-on-one basis is hardly as cost-effective as solving everyone’s problem at once. So imagine, if you will, that when a brand sells a product, it informs the new customer that anytime there’s a known problem—a software patch, a recall, a service outage—a tweet or series of tweets will be sent out immediately using a common hashtag (e.g. #CiceronService) with a link to a Web page outlining specific instructions. (Comcast does this relatively well, even if using Twitter primarily for one-to-one service calls through direct messaging.) If the customer chooses to follow the brand directly, that person will see the tweet. If that person decides not to follow, he or she can still search Twitter for the hashtag and have the problem resolved.
In this scenario, a 140-character tweet has solved the problem that needed to be resolved by 100 people in a call center. The cost savings from an improved process and satisfaction from customers certainly adds to the bottom line.
I’m not a finance guy, but I’d love to see the analysis on that.
Just as marketers salivate at the idea of blasting away at thousands of “likes” and “followers” (and if you’ve been reading this blog, you know I abhor such behaviors), imagine turning that scene around to helping thousands of customers solve problems in a highly efficient, highly scaled fashion. (Mashable has a few great examples.) Also imagine capturing all of that data to turn into real business intelligence for continuously enhancing customer service and product intelligence.
What this series has been about is very simple: There is significant, business-changing value in all of these emerging social technologies, across the enterprise. Marketers were the first to grab on for obvious reasons, but nearly all sectors of the organization should be seeking ways to use this wonderful technology to its benefits—and its customers’ benefits. I really do believe there is a goldmine of value sitting right under everyone’s noses. We simply need bold leaders to extract and scale the opportunities.