If it's true that we're all marketers - as consultants, business owners, employees - it's also true that we're all in customer service. Except some of us have not realized that yet. The people who consume, use, mash up, build on our content, the human beings on the other side of a Twitter chat or a FriendFeed discussion are customers.
Today someone can make a video explaining an idea, upload it to YouTube (4:32), and in less than two years have almost 7 million views and 7,371 comments. Michael Wesch, PhD is Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Kansas State University. He subscribes to the belief that everything is connected. So a change in the way we communicate, for example, can have an impact in many areas of our lives - personal and professional.
In an interview with John Batelle, Wesch states that
the ultimate promise of digital technology is that it might enable us to truly see one another once again and all the ways we are interconnected. It might help us create a truly global view that can spark the kind of empathy we need to create a better world for all of humankind. I’m not being overly Utopian and naively saying that the Web will make this happen. In fact, if we don’t understand our digital technology and its effects, it can actually make humans and human needs even more invisible than ever before. But the technology also creates a remarkable opportunity for us to make a profound difference in the world.
There is power in the technology we're using every day. To me the Web is an easier medium to have for conversation and collaboration. As Wesch explains in the comments:
The Web speeds up the process of rebuttal, reply, and revision and calls forth a different approach.
If the Web can be an excellent place for conversations of the connective kind, it seems to be an appropriate medium for holding customer conversations. When we call a customer service line, or we seek support about a product, the structure of the phone line medium is designed in a certain way and provides a certain kind of experience.
There is a small chance of collaboration when we can go off the script. Take another medium, a forum for example, and you begin to see threads where more than two people contribute to a discussion. The conversation is still asynchronous, yet something interesting happens - a modicum of transparency is injected in the equation. All the members of that forum or board and visitors may see and read the thread.
Still, we did not have instant responses until we began using chat buttons on Web sites and now Twitter. After spending time monitoring online conversations about their products and services, some companies are beginning to use online tools that offer a more immediate turnaround on responding to issues that arise or questions from customers.
Even when the issue takes time to resolve, the response arrives quickly, courtesy of a customer service rep or a communicator who is immersed in the medium. This is what I call instant return on your investment. The return comes at a price.
Being online and exposed to customer dissatisfaction on a continuous basis, may lead to burnout. This is a different kind of stress - it goes beyond physical exhaustion to touch the emotional and mental faculties.
Today at Fast Company expert blog, I talk about how to avoid (social media) burnout. We may not have the words in our title, but as communicators and marketers, as people who are all in the idea business and in the conversation, I really do believe we're all in customer service.
How do you avoid burnout? How do you make use of the tools so that they do not use you?