Kindled Meme

– exploring the purpose of connection

Social servicing – building customer value

1 Comment

Last month JD Power surveyed more than 23000 folks on how they used social media to reach out to brands with interesting results. While SM has always been leveraged as a messaging channel – more and more people are using a social channel to speak with a brand – seeking service, some help, information or assistance.


There are differences across demographics – us oldies are happy to engage with the MarCom – while Millennials are storming ahead using ‘social’ as a customer service channel.

There’s a brief reprieve for the companies that aren’t up to this task yet– right now only 18% of baby boomers are escalating into social. But once they catch on look-out – they are the only generation with disposable cash and they sure can complain. You want these dudes on your side!

The JD Power numbers back up the findings of the Social Habit project that told us that people want to find service over the social web – but they also want it to be responsive. 42% expect a response to a social query within 60 minutes and 24% expect a reply within 30 minutes.

Yes, we are pushy, but social has no barriers.

We’ll wait for response to an email to a faceless ‘info@’ account or suffer the pain of a call centre – but if you are on social we expect you to be ‘on’ – and we expect an answer. We don’t want to watch the marketing team flounder to handle a customer complaint, or tip-toe around the holes in your post-sales experience. We want access to info whether its from a helpful account handler or from being plugged into a social community of similar users who can help.

A Service Dominant-Logic View

Companies that see the value in stepping into social space need tools to help with this task but they have also got to get their heads around how all this builds value.

Professsor Grönroos, a thought-leader in customer experience believes service is tough for companies that think they are in the product business – guys who believe they are creating value when they ‘ship the tin’, sell the denim or publish the app. They see value exchanged when a transaction is completed and they think the job is done – that value is a number tied to an invoice.

And that’s just not good for service thinking.


Grönroos argues that a customers perception of value gets created when you interact with them – educate, share, enlighten and compell them to adopt what they have bought. The Customers perceived value is the value-in-use not the value in the dollars they handed over.

When you address a service request – through social or elsewhere – you are unlocking the value when you interact. And its this customer perception that is at the heart of service.

Does it scale?

In truth interaction and intimate service is time consuming. We get our heads around service – we shift in mindset and adjust a culture to be customer-centric, service-oriented – but it continues to be a one-on-one approach.

The more service you engage in the more trouble-tickets you open and the more you find yourself answering the same questions and learning-pains – what should be an epiphany in customer delight become mundane and repetitive.

Closed-service just doesn’t scale – and worst it ignores the greatest asset of the social era – the wisdom of the crowds and the puddles of expertise that social connects up to build oceans of community.

If we are looking for customers to find value it’s a three-way gig – the company, the customer and the community of folk that are in the same game.


There is a great quote in Cluetrain:

“Companies that don’t realize their markets are now networked person-to-person, getting smarter as a result and deeply joined in conversation are missing their best opportunity.”

These interactions build value and create spaces where people want to be. We live in collaborative times right?

So who’s doing it?

The JD Power report gives us a heads up as to which sectors are making use of social – six industries:

Airline, Auto, Banking, Credit Cards, Telecom and Utility are all on board with this thinking. Automotive are the best at it.

If you are in these sectors how are you plugging into social and communities to create value? Are you engaging with style or are you up to the task of servicing your community?

If you are not in these sectors you still need to keep your eyes pealed – check out the behaviour of the “Social Servicers” list in the report – learn from JetBlue, Ford, Chase, Sprint Nextel, Pacific Gas & electric.

Check out their voice, their responsiveness and effectiveness – what tools are they using and what are they doing that makes it all scale.

Being part of the social world may seem a bit unwieldy and it’s a change from the traditional way of business – but at least its transparent and we can learn from watching.

Why not pick a role model and bust a move – this stuff just became strategic.

Time for a plan.


Author: jameslramsay

Practice director at the ShelfLife project - digital by day, campfire by night

One thought on “Social servicing – building customer value

  1. Very interesting post, James (and loved the illustrations, too). Thank you for summarising the report findings.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s