Bob Thompson – About customer service collaboration

So the ability of a customer service agent to actually take care of a problem quickly and do it right is critical, and I think most people agree with that. How can you do that when you have… companies are trying to keep the cost down and they want to have a very efficient and low cost operation, yet they want to deliver a high quality customer experience, how are you going to do that? Well, one way you can do it is by collaborating with your customers in online forums, or online communities, it’s the current terminology. So that the customers can actually work with you and with other customers to collectively solve problems. And I think that’s very simple and kind of old-fashioned, but it’s a very effective way of getting problem solved with a group effort and actually meeting the needs of both customers and vendors.

So customer service collaboration, I think, has a direct impact in terms of customer to company, and then if you go internally it’s very common for more complex problems where the customer service representative can’t solve a problem on his/her own. So what do they do? Well they have to go internally, so they’ll use email, they will pick up the phone, explore their networks, they have to find some other resources whether it’s in a digital form or some people, it helps solve bigger problems.

And so there is opportunity to collaborate internally, but in the end the focus of that collaboration is on providing that great service experience, and the business outcome that the company wants is that company be either more loyal to if they are really spin on leaning. So that’s very simple straightforward opportunity for collaboration, externally and internally, that’s focused on the customer service experience.

I think you could take that further and you can look at the role of customer experience where the company and the customers are literary working together to create products, and there is I think it’s been a bit of a buzzword, but you can see some companies moving in that direction; either corporate companies act with customers to jointly generate ideas, company may then go off and develop separately. You have like the threadless t-shirt example which a lot of people have talked about. You know that’s not, in my mind, it’s not a realistic strategy for most companies, but it shows the possibilities that you could literary have your customers design something for you or at least rate and vet the design. And to me that’s also a form of collaboration where you are working jointly towards a common goal.

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