Why social networking (a.k.a. Web 2.0) is well-positioned to proactively improve service delivery
Since 1997, I have held customer service adviser or leadership roles at four companies. A common complaint I have heard (literally hundreds of times as I “…monitored calls for quality assurance purposes”) was that customers wished the company who was providing service to them would simply listen to what they had to say and make improvements in responses. This is simple with a local service (as you can call the owner or drop by). It is hard in a large enterprise as it hard to make it convenient for customers to provide feedback and for the enterprise to determine the feedback with the most relevance or greatest consensus.
Social networking — when designed and positioned correctly — is well structured to make it–
- Easy for customers to individually give you feedback and advice for improvement
- Natural for customers to collectively reveal what opinions are highest impacting or most ubiquitous
- Cost-effective for the enterprise to understand what changes will provide the highest ROI and act accordingly
Social networking solution position for service delivery improvement(Again, I am following the Problem Statement-Solution Position model to ensure a focus on providing true enterprise value. See my last post for more on this approach)
For enterprises who deliver recurring services (e.g., plans, subscriptions, support) — especially those in markets with a high churn and high costs of customer acquisition
Who want to enhance service delivery, increase customer satisfaction and reduce churn
Service Delivery Improvement Social Collaboration is a transformational social networking business service
That prioritizes unmet customer needs and communicates back the company’s response and resolution
Providing faster, pro-active detection and resolution of high priority problems in service delivery, ultimately leading to higher customer loyalty and reduced churn. (For each one point drop in customer churn the company can realize $x million dollars in increased earnings)
Unlike traditional customer care solutions that respond to customer cancellations (instead of eliciting unmet needs upstream of cancellation) or technology-centric social network widgets that do not focus on efficiently achieving business value
Social networking solution perspective for service delivery improvement
The best way to explain how this Service Delivery Improvement Social Collaboration Business Service would work to outline a sample perspective of how it would fit into a real-world scenario. I like to use mobile phone coverage as it is a problem that has plagued me in many places and caused me to terminate service with many companies:
XYZ is a mobile provider for millions of customers worldwide. Mobile number portability laws have significantly increased churn in a competitive market. Even with service contracts, the cost to acquire each new subscriber is over several hundred dollars.
XYZ uses Social Collaboration to setup the “Tell Us How We Can Serve You” site that enable customers to report service problems and unmet needs. The site will leverage network effects to raise prioritization on issues with the most pervasive concern. This will enable XYZ to prioritize resources and response for the greatest ROI (important in its highly competitive market)
When customers sign up for new mobile contracts with XYZ they are provided literature highlighting how this site provides them a voice to obtain a higher level of support. XYZ can also highlight this competitive advantage in all marketing points of contact (storefronts, web site, commercials, and advertisements).
When customers enter this site they can provide feedback into two areas: 1) what geographic areas need coverage and 2) what geographic areas are having problems. Each of these areas has a similar interaction experience.
Users can view site information without logging in. To add information or comment upon or rate another user’s input the customer would be asked to “log in” using his or her mobile number and voice mail PIN. This is possible by linking site sign-on with voice mail sign-on from XYZ’s database.
When customers enter the “need coverage” area they are invited to enter locations where XYZ needs to provide or improve coverage. Other consumers can use a “me too” comment for this to raise the importance of geographic areas of interest. This will exploit network effects to automatically highlight those geographic areas with the greatest demand for improved coverage—letting XYZ focus its resources on places with the greatest customer need. Linking sign-in to mobile numbers will prevent gaming and assure accurate insight into customer need. A very similar site area can enable customers to report areas where they are experiencing poor coverage (e.g., outages or dropped calls).
Finally, the site contains a section where the CEO or Head of Customer Service can share what he has learned from his customer. This closes the loop by actively demonstrating to customers that they have been heard.
This use of social networking improves overall service in a highly efficient manner. XYZ focuses service attention on those areas that have been reinforced with converging site feedback. XYZ also shows its customers how it is listening to their feedback to improve their experience. Ultimately this increases the ROI of mobile network investments and reduces customer churn.
This type of service can benefit any that company delivers recurring services and is trying to avoid churn. In the private sector, a similar approach could be applied to banks trying to retain checking, savings, or investment accounts. In the public sector, this could applied to help cost-effectively scale services ranging from unemployment assistance to child protection
How far away is this?
This is not very far away. Companies like Dell have take the first steps of reaching out to listen to customers through services like “Idea Storm.” What is needed is more structure around this interaction and collaboration and stronger enterprise integration. I know of a few different technologies (from several companies) that could be coupled together in short order (8-12 weeks) to provide this service.