Because Twitter helps customers solve problems and they can vent – there a simple answer. But, the current approach will not scale!
I believe the following statement to be true:
The need to broadcast a problem to the world would not be necessary if the customer had confidence that their issue would be solved timely and to their satisfaction.
There are lots of and lots of good reasons to broadcast, this post is not about all those good reasons: Co-Creation, Innovation, Community, Collaboration, to name a few. This post is also not about Service Communities like Lithium and Helpstream, Parature and others. While not about them, they might be part of the solution.
Using Twitter for support masks a larger issue. Therefore I believe the following also to be true:
If your customers are trying to get your attention on Twitter to solve a specific ‘me only’ problem, your processes are either horribly inefficient, broken or you have product issues.
Twitter is not SocialCRM. Twitter is immediate gratification meets CRM
There are lots of companies who are taking the opportunity to try and make things right, by watching for issues on Twitter and helping those in need. Unfortunately, this also promotes bad behavior, let me paint a mental picture:
In order to get your cable box fixed you needed to go down to the local service provider office. It just so happens that you have your 5 yo daughter in tow. The drive is 20 minutes, you figure the line should not be too bad – ooops, wrong, you need to stand in line for an hour or more. While in line, after 1/2 hour the person who just came in the door starts to yell really loudly about poor service.
In the real world, we all know what would happen (or what should happen anyway). The person yelling would be asked to quiet down, or leave. This would be done nicely of course, but that is what would happen. Right? How do you suppose it would go over if after the second ‘rant’, the best technician in the company walked over and opened up a new station at the counter, and called that individual over, fixed their problem, then left? <rhetorical>
But, this is exactly what happens on Twitter, day in and day out. No scenario or metaphor can perfectly represent the Twitter scenario in real world. Are Twitter users playing the system or cheating the system? Or simply taking advantage? I am aware of the United video (this fits into the broken category), as well as some really great uses of help and support, like Best Buy.
Companies who are responding well are putting the best and brightest Customer Support people in the role of Marketing and Support, and calling them Support. They have a direct line to anyone who can help solve your problem. This will work for a while, maybe even a year or two – but then everyone will have the secret number – and we will yell and scream, but still be stuck in the queue. Support communities may very well help here – but not for all industries, company sizes or geographies.
The key is turning the data into information and turning the information into insights, then the insights into action. When this really gets mature 3-5 years, we will be able to predict – but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. As the Twitter user population grows as well as Facebook and others, the call center and help desk models will simply not be able to scale. Organizations use predictive models to determine staffing and there only so many ‘A’ players (the ones the vendors are using to filter and watch Twitter).
Take the opportunity to learn and figure out what is broken or wrong, and fix it. In order to learn, you need to put processes in place to learn. Am I wrong?
Given Paul Greenberg’s profound and accurate ‘stake in the ground‘ – it is now time to move forward and focus on making it all work, not on what it is called! The data (type, quality, quantity, immediacy) is a crucial element to making it all work (work = offers significant business value), and the issue has been nagging at me for most of the week. I typically take a logical, business value focused and pragmatic approach to operational systems. But this data question is taking more thought. Social Data does not always – ok, barely ever – fits into the standard patterns we have defined, the reason is actually simple, data in the ‘Social’ realm encapsulates emotions, and emotions are complex (ie, they do not usually fit into rows and columns).
A very brief, review to catch people up to my thinking
Most business analysts and consultants, when talking about customer data, draw diagrams or charts. Within the charts the data elements are grouped into bins. Examples of the bins are: Demographic Data, Transactional Data, Service History Data, etc.,… In the new SocialCRM or Web 2.0 world, we have more (new?) bins; Clickstream (Google Analytics type of output) Social Media (Youtube, FaceBook, LinkedIn, Jigsaw, Twitter to name a few). Then we typically start trying to put the data bins into one of two buckets – Operational or Analytical. Traditionally (don’t beat me up on this), Operational data is readily available, and Analytical takes a little time (days at least). This is where the old world and new world collide – In the realm of SocialCRM, what used to be in the realm of Analytical, now is important day-to-day. Not only is it important day to day, but some suggest that it should be available offline. Offline means = I am at my computer, and it is as if someone turned off the Internet. (I will tackle my thoughts on that another day).
Actionable data – Sales and Service
There are some really smart people who spend time thinking about data analysis, (Radian6 for example) for the Analytical bucket I described above. Marketers love the data, and lots can be learned when the data is ‘sliced and diced’. Since I am not a pure marketer, the focus of my thinking is in the area of 1 to 1. What can one sales person do with the data, or what can one Customer Support person do with the data? I also know there is a sub-topic of taking marketing type data and using it to offer 1 to 1 advice – I am not going there either (just yet).
Taking a look at the ends of the spectrum:
Twitter – “@mjayliebs I want to buy your product, it is awesome” – Well, that seems pretty obvious; figure out who wrote it, route it to a sales person and sell them something. (Pure Operational)
Twitter – @mjayliebs “Check out my [6 minute] video about how great your company is [by a nearly broke college student] (Er Ah, Um…not so obvious what to do with it).
What about a couple more middle of the road:
Twitter – “@mjayliebs – One of my clients is thinking about your product, but it is way too expensive, lower the price” Operational or Analytical? Actionable? Or, not?
Twitter – “@mjayliebs – I like parts of your product, but there are issues, check out my blog review”
Yes, I focused on Twitter, but tried to incorporate some others Social Media channels as well. I am also sure that people could offer many examples the run the spectrum from useful to useless. The question is what processes do you have in place to organize the Social data to make it actionable? I know that there are products and services available, and more coming soon. But, what about for small business? Can sentiment (or sentiment analysis) be made useful and/or actionable to the Support folks? What about to the Sales folks?
One could easily argue that first defining the types of data we are talking about is a more important first step, but hey, it is a Saturday, it is sunny and I am at the keyboard (I am outside) – my prerogative!
- There is a Big Difference Between Can’t and Won’t
- Stop Thinking in Two Dimensions
- No Beginning, No Middle and No End
- Rethinking the Customer Journey
- The Simplest Thing I Ever Had to Write
- Context Integration, the Future of System to System Interactions
- The Evolution of Customer Community
- The Fine Line Between Personalization and Creepy
- Experience Innovation
- Maybe We are Using the Wrong Words to Describe Collaboration
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