2,400 years ago Socrates said, “ὁ δὲ ἀνεξέταστος βίος οὐ βιωτὸς ἀνθρώπῳ.” (For those few of you who don’t read Greek, Socrates’ statement translates to something like, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”)
Thanks to the computer’s limitless ability to compile measurements and metrics, companies and professionals now have a way to apply Socrates’ theory to business. As we rush headlong into The Internet of Things – the new Internet protocol that will enable all of our devices to interconnect – this phenomenon will only grow more prevalent. Spending, transactions, speed to market, and every activity that can be tracked will be tracked and managed with equations that can squeeze every little bit of efficiency out of every little action.
When it comes to customer service, I’ve figured out that the specific equation for success is 925<247365.
As far back as the 1920s, The Hawthorne Effect was studied to prove that observation improves performance. According to Wikipedia, “The Hawthorne Effect suggested that productivity gains occurred as a result of the motivational effect on workers of the interest being shown in them.” In simpler terms, it is where individuals improve a measureable aspect of their behavior in response to their awareness of being observed.
Last week I had the pleasure of speaking to a group of people who work in the customer service industry. These hardworking professionals, formerly known as the Complaint Department, manage the phones and desks of companies that want to provide a friendly voice for customers that have a problem. The gist of our discussion was how technology has changed their businesses—and will continue to do so.
Long before we had democratized communication, most rants against companies were one-way monologues. Yes, you could send a letter to a company you thought had wronged you, and you could call the complaint department, but those were the only options available to you. Whether the company fixed your problem or not, you had little recourse other than to tell the people in your immediate circle how unhappy you were.
But with today’s ubiquitous access to social media (SM) sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, plus video sites including YouTube and Vimeo, a disgruntled customer has lots of ways to spread the news of their disappointment. In many cases, the angry customer may have an even larger and louder soapbox than the company itself.
Because of this, the position of the former “complaint department” becomes more important than ever. After all, they’re the ones who are on the frontline of responding to issues, fixing problems, changing attitudes, and maintaining clients. This opportunity offers even more potential when you realize that a formerly disgruntled client who feels that they’ve been respected and well-served can actually become a more loyal and higher value customer.
The mistake is that most companies put their social media activities in the hands of marketing departments who are ill-equipped to handle the job. Let’s face it: Marketing folks want to come up with a great new concept, seduce the idea, bring it to a big exciting climax, and then smoke a cigarette afterwards. We’re too busy expressing our creativity to do the day-to-day blocking and tackling required to turn around unhappy customers who are tweeting their displeasure at all hours of the night. Instead, it makes all the sense in the world for marketing departments to create SM messaging and design and then turn over the day-to-day (and night) operation to customer service.
Problem is, marketing departments will be loath to surrender control of their company’s SM activities even though it’s the best thing they could do. And so customer service representatives who want to burn down the old systems and suggest this unique realignment will need some fuel for their fire. And that’s where metrics come into play:
After a lot of study and thinking, it occurred to me that the simple notation, 925<247365, is the perfect metric to support our unique recommendation that customer service departments take over social media from marketing. 925<247365 demonstrates exactly why this should happen. In simple terms, 925<247365 means nine to five is less than 24/7/365. And when a company is measuring the effectiveness of its customer relations, they need to start seeing it as an around the clock activity.
After all, that’s the way their customers see it too.