Today I read a great post by Brian Vellmure: The New (Social) Customer Advocate.
Scaling of conversations
While reading, a few thoughts came to mind with regard to scaling of conversations. A challenge that many big companies face when entering the social web and wanting to engage. For small companies having meaningful conversation in, on or with a little help from social media, will be a small challenge. For big companies it’s a major one, because on-on-one conversations don’t scale.
Automation is not an option
Of course conversations on an individual level between Customers and employees in big companies, on the widest variety of topics, cannot scale without taking a completely different approach. Automating these conversations, IMHO, is a no-go area if not impossible (for now at least). One can automate transactions, decision tree problem solving etc, but real conversations, in a social world, are about people connecting with people. Authenticity and Transparency are two key elements of those conversations:
Automation does not fit in this world and is just another way of trying to reduce costs of things you think you have too many of.
We can go on and on about how, much like Best Buy’s Twelpforce, we need to involve all employees of the organization to have meaningful conversations, and what would be needed to make that possible. I think one-on-one conversations will not scale in the end, at least not without a completely different approach.
The real problem is that there is just too much to talk about.
Social Media and most of all contact centers are filled with people talking about experiences with brands/products/services etc. Some good, most are not.
Hence my thought that our real question should be:
How can we scale the conversations to fit with the organization?
Obviously I don’t have the answer, or I would not be here, right now. But maybe taking on the following challenge will help companies to come up with an answer:
Take your combined budgets for Marketing & Customer Services and ask yourself the following:
If I had this amount of money to spend (annually!), and I did not have any Marketing & Customer Services departments to spend it on (but you do still have the problems they solve), what would I do with it, to ensure that I can have meaningful, authentic conversations with my Customers that create value for both of us? What would you do first? What would you stop doing? How would you organize?
Are you up for the challenge?
Hi Paula, Mark and Russ,
As you may have noticed, I created a little more “meaty” post after this one. Most of the elements in your comments are being dealt with there. And I’m trying to be a little more specific. Considering the lengthy comments Mark & Russ already made there, I likely failed horribly ;-)
Nevertheless, hope to see you all back on “the next page”.
Thx for the effort. I really appreciate it.
1-on-1 doesn’t scale. Which is why it’s the wrong focus. It’s about listening — you don’t have to ‘be’ there to listen. The problem is that there’s a whole lot of 1-on-1 already going on that is not being persisted. People call the call center, but there are scripts — things to be said. Call centers are not designed for listening.
Start there, then call me in the morning : )
Would it be just adding another layer of overhead(and another buzzword) to org have Marketing, Sales and Service report to a Chief Customer Officer(or comparable title). They’re different functions, sure, but there is surely enough overlap and mutually supportive effort to make it workable on some level. In the end, they are customer-facing. Maybe it’d help break down silos between these groups, at least. Maybe it’d help CRM and sCRM work a little better.
What WOULD it look like? Let’s throw a draft org chart out there and thoughtfully tear it up and see where we might end up at ; )
It’s late…forgive me :P
Zappos has a Customer Loyalty Department : http://bit.ly/cYxUp with 380 staffers. Does this correspond with what you envision?
Good idea to put this in a seperate thread. As you are blog-jumping your comments to Brian into your own post, I’ll do the same with my response ;)
Quote Wim “So, in our thoughts, we now have this enormous pot of gold, and nothing but (Customer) problems and desires. How do we spend the money wisely so that we can get rid of the problems and fulfill our desires, and as a result of this “investment” truly co-create value with our Customers.”
So now let’s see what these outcomes may be:
– create experiences that customers will want to buy (I prefer experiences to talking about product/services)
– have the whole ecosystem help define what experiences best meet the customer jobs
– minimise the risk of failure and when failure does occur, deal with it efficiently and satisfactorily using all avaible ecosystem resources
– draw others into the conversation for even richer experiences for all (and thus increase the customer base)
simple starting points right?
Also note that I do not emphasize ‘customer experience’, but that I am leaning towards ‘ecosystem experience’ – I think it is not enough to only work towards empassioned customers, but rather that all those involved (customers, employees, partners, suppliers) should benefit from the co-creation of the experience in order to get the most out of it for the greater benefit of all!