Customer Service Has Changed…And It Ain’t Going Back

June 10, 2011 § 1 Comment

Do you remember what customer service was like 5 years ago?  10 years ago?  20 years ago?  Now think about how customer service is today?  Not sure about the difference?  Try tweeting a complaint at a company.  If you do, you are bound to get a response in minutes that is something like this:

Hi @spcohn, here is the answer to your question.  Please let us know if you have any further questions.

I remember when I first heard about Twitter.  All I kept hearing about was people tweeting about stupid things.

  • “I can’t believe he just struck out…what a bum”
  • “Just had an awesome meal at XYZ.  Good Berger!  So full now!!”
  • And my favorite, “going to bed, so tired.”

At the time, I thought Twitter was so stupid.  My reaction to all of those tweets was…who cares?  I really wasn’t interested what you ate, what you are watching and when you are going to bed.  [And by the way, there are some people who still tweet about this stuff.]

But Twitter has evolved into an amazing communication platform.  It is so powerful.  Most people don’t realize what the Twitter platform is doing to business.  In short, it is changing many aspects of business.  This post is about the impact to customer service, but I will write others.

For those of you who don’t really understand Twitter, it is a massive collection of Loose-tie networks that are sharing [mostly] relevant information.  Each Twitter handle develops a personality and typically tweets consistent with that personality.  The development of personalities is a community reaction to the silly tweet problem I mentioned above.  Combine this with its scale and its loose-tie nature, and you have a platform that can move information at unbelievable speeds.  Don’t believe me, ask the good Representative from NY’s 9th district.

The upshot of this phenomenon is that the power dynamics between a single customer and a massive company are changing.  They are shifting significantly in the favor of the consumer…and they ain’t going back.  Find a bug in your salad in a restaurant 10 years ago, and you were lucky to get your salad comped.  Today, all you have to do is tweet about it.  Oh boy…watch the response.

The impact of this power shift is monumental.  It really is.  This shift started with sites like Yelp and facebook, but Twitter took this to a new level and speed.  This dynamic shift has so many implications – pricing power, marketing, cost of doing business, margins, cost to fund start-ups, speed of growth of new products.  I could go on and on.  It also is a great area for innovation, as it is a place of fundamental change.  I can think of several good product ideas around this shift just as I am typing.

A lot has been made in the press recently about rising valuations, bubbles and high growth companies.  What current entrepreneurs and those plugged into the start-up scene know is that the cause is a fundamental shift in the dynamics of business. Growth rates are astronomical by historical standards.  Margin potentials are improving.  Disruption opportunities are everywhere.  Don’t believe me yet…sign up for a Twitter account and watch.

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§ One Response to Customer Service Has Changed…And It Ain’t Going Back

  • David Pakman says:

    Couldn’t agree more. The balance of power between a brand and a consumer is changing in a way that requires brands to listen much more to their customers. A bunch of brands are rapidly evolving to meet these challenges (Virgin America comes to mind) but plenty aren’t (Sony comes to mind) and still believe they control their own message and can treat customers like sheep.

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