Sunday, June 6, 2010

Customer Service

I work for a software company that prides itself, and very rightly so, on providing great customer service. They customize the program to meet their customers’ needs, and they spend hours on the phone helping customers with their problems. And it’s tough. The customers’ requests often seem unreasonable. As Gerry McGovern points out in a great blog post, the customer is a stranger so we can never really understand their point of view.

The essential challenge of the Web is to become customer-centric. To truly succeed on the Web the organization must shape itself around the customer. This is very difficult for any organization to do because at heart all organizations are tribes. And the one thing a tribe does not like to do is shape itself around the stranger, the outsider.

The customer is a stranger, an outsider, and the customer is more in charge on the Web than the organization is. This is the essential shift in power and control that organizations must embrace if they are to thrive on the Web. The customer isn't just king anymore. The customer is dictator. Impatient and always in a hurry.

If you simplify things for the customer then they will respond positively. That's easier said than done because simplifying for the customer requires creating extra complexity for the organization. Nobody likes to have their job made more complex. What is even more problematic is when something you do to make life easier for your customers makes life harder for one of your colleagues. That makes you unpopular within the tribe.

I would suggest that this applies to all forms of customer service; it’s just more obvious on the web. What is your experience – as a customer or as a service provider?

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