When a new year starts, people usually take a final look at the last twelve months while they are still in sight, did they produce tangible results that will become solid and real foundation for the coming year.
I have been in the customer service business for almost fifteen years now. And In 2011, I believe we saw a few clear signals that our customer service business is indeed changing dramatically the conversation between organizations and their customers.
There is no doubt; consumers now have the power when it’s about customer service.
Every well-informed customer knows she/he can now put great pressure on big organizations as she/he now has the power to spread a bad experience or engage in conversations with other disappointed customers, just by sending a few messages on the right social media networks. Mobile applications, with the emergence of smartphones, are amazing social communication amplifiers as well and consumers have now completely adopted them.
Enterprises have understood this change of power.
Whether they like it or now, any organization must consider carefully how their customers or prospects want to interact, especially during these very versatile times.
The time where organizations could control how their customers interact with them is definitely gone, at last. Remember the time where we wanted customers to spend a few minutes in an IVR application before allowing them to talk to a customer service representative? Fortunately, these days are over.
Can we summarize this new approach in a few words?
I believe we can: “Customer-Centric” is probably the best short description of the new paradigm enterprises will progressively adopt in 2012.
I know, this is not a new expression and we have heard about this customer center approach for many years.
But in reality, many organizations have considered implementation of customer centric postures, starting from their established processes, making sure they were indeed putting the customer at the center of every step of the different processes that were already in place, not transforming these processes.
This reasoning has not always been successful because it was actually the enterprise process that was at the very center of every activity fulfilled by any employee of the company, even though the customer was considered at every step of the process: The customer had to call, had to email, had to visit a store. Everything was improved to make things easier for a customer. But still, the companies were organized around their own processes, with limited understanding of customers’ expectations.
The real customer-centric approach is when you adapt your processes to the ways your customers want to communicate with you. The introduction of mobile applications and social CRM have made us (customer experience management solution vendors, contact center managers, customer service specialists…) understand those needs and the cross channel emergence.
Enterprises must now have a new vision when it’s about conversations with customers.
Customers don’t see an enterprise as a collection of separate entities such as products this enterprise sells, associated services, customer care entities, contact center phone numbers and a couple of social contents on Facebook or YouTube.
No, they see one and only one entity and they expect this entity to be consistent in its approach.
2012 should be, for enterprises who understand the meaning of customer service on their business, the time to consolidate the customer centric approach by establishing new standards of conversation.
Standards where business processes don’t compel customers but where these same business processes consider the customer as well as the way the customer wants to converse.
This new conversation era is here now. It will seriously change the rules of customer interactions and we will see some wise companies understanding the value of quickly implementing new winning conversation approaches.