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Will Community = Service? April 24, 2009

Posted by Edwin Ritter in Miscellaneous.

There a lot of people talkin ’bout the on-line community. A few people are also listening.  I’m referring of course to the Social Media community.  Your on-line buds, the homies you hang with on the net. That community. All great stuff – love it. I do. But, it seems to me that while we have this great on-line network, there is something missing. The human element. Stay with me.
I mean, we have all the wonderful tools to connect with people from our past and present and even, make new connections so it shapes our future. Like me, I’m sure you all have friends on facebook, followers on Twitter, an active network on LinkedIn and so on.

But, we don’t always have a human connection. It’s virtual, man. So you and I have this great community that we interact with.  And I do all the time. But, if I have a problem with my phone, or cable, I don’t talk to my community. I interact with a call prompter.

And that’s where I see a disconnect. We have this wealth of  social interactivity for advice, staying aware of  a cornucopia of myriad and multi-faceted topics. But, if you have a real life problem that you need help with, you call a 800 number and navigate, sometimes correctly, through a byzantine call prompter. Have a problem with your credit card? Call prompter. Need to report a car accident? Call prompter. You get the gist.

We all have our ‘War Story’ of a horrible and/or humorous experience dealing with these systems. My wife was so frustrated recently using a voice activated call prompter, she was yelling into the phone “I want an agent, agent! Human! Human!” Of course, I found it hysterical.  My wife, eh, not so much.

Back on point – Call prompters  save companies money – makes them efficient, handle large call volumes to have satisfied customers. Not always as companies can lose business when customer are frustrated enough. Trust me – been there, done that.  BTDT – is that an acronym like BOGO (buy one, get one)?

I don’t want a machine interface when I’m trying to solve a problem. I want a carbon-based life form from the community to help me. Are you listening service providers? Get human.

And, oh, yeah another thing. Now that I think about it, all those people looking for jobs can be great customer advocates. Giving answers to people – using Social Media of their choice – chat, email, tweets, FB updates, phone calls. The mind reels with the possibilities of the win-win-win. A big Win for us consumers; win for companies; win for people looking for meaningful work. Simple and I like simple solutions.

After all, resolving problems is giving back to the community, isn’t it? For me, that’s a community service. One does not equal the other, they are synergistic and influence each other.
So, then  it raises the question – would you be willing to work as a Service Representative? I’ve always felt a rotation between  service, repair and development roles keeps you energized and brings new challenges to a job. The management of your rotation within a work team takes a bit more work of course.  Here’s an example could be – 3 weeks Help Desk answering customer issues. This could be email, phone, chat and the like. Then, 3 weeks peforming field repair where you could inherit a problem that you logged while on the Help Desk and now need to fix, either remotely or on site. Be careful what you reap, eh? Last, 3 weeks to work on a development project.

The time duration cited is just for the example. It could be longer or shorter based on the business. The point is, you see things from different perspectives. And that keep it fresh; stimulates new ideas. Avoids the same old, same old routine. So, while you are developing, you have insight as to how to eliminate future support problems. You can envision what you need to enhance a widget – either talking with a customer or fixing a broken one. You get new ideas by having multiple perspectives. Also, provides built-in cross-training for coverage and increases employee education.

Won’t happen though in the short term. Too simple. We like our community to interact with and will endure call prompters for our business.  I hope it does change though. And when it does and there  is a company that offers the human service element, I’ll friend them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter. Because I want that service  as part of my community.



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