The last eighteen months have witnessed a huge shift in the way that customers seek help for their customer service queries, problems and complaints.
The continued mainstreaming of social media has been catalytic in transforming this once settled landscape from a closed one-to-one transaction to a more open and conciliatory experience characterised by empathy.
The challenge businesses face is that this questioning is taking place at the margins, on independent platforms, where their presence is neither required nor requested. Sites such as ComplaintCommunity, Cofacio, GetSatisfaction, Amplicate, Vark, Plebble, alongside their more established counterparts like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and TripAdvisor are shifting the power of voice back in favour of customers.
A company’s ability to remain relevant given the changing needs of an increasingly vocal customer, requires companies to actually demonstrate their customer centricity, rather than treat it as a box to tick on a ‘to do’ list.
The drive towards creating a multichannel service experience is now a more complex undertaking. In this new paradigm, customers are bypassing the necessity to engage with a company altogether. Instead, they are turning to each other for help by posting questions on third party sites or simply self-helping through their own (re)search, on forums or via blogs.
Companies now need to be where their customers are, not wait for them to show up. And that now means that everyone in your company is a customer service representative from the CEO to the PR manager to the actual customer service team.
And more than ever, a CPG brand can’t control their word of mouth and are seeping out of the retail channels they have traditionally used to reach customers. CPG brands now need to create direct-to-consumer relationships, because if they don’t, consumers will keep going without them. Multi-channel customer service is a signal of a larger trend that signals a desire to be more directly connected to the brands we bring into our homes and interact with on a daily basis.
Such a relationship requires empathy, which can’t be translated through a middle-man.