Guy Stephens: Looking Ahead – The Margins Become the Centre

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Guy Stephens @guy1067

Trying to understand this thing called #SocialCustCare. Named HuffPost Top 100 #CustServ. Views mine. #IBMer #commandcentres #digitalliteracy #coys #Wolfson.

The first five years have drawn to a close. In that time we’ve seen – the first social customer care tweet from @ComcastCares, #Twelpforce, Kachi Wachi, United Breaks Guitars, Giffgaff, Groubal, “How To” videos on YouTube, the emergence of enterprise social networks, and command centres from Gatorade and Dell.

Note: This is a conclusion of the white paper “Five Years of Social Customer Care: The Pig Puts on Some Lipstick and the Fish Come Out to Play!”, arranged by Guy Stephens published in cooperation with Brand Embassy. You can download the full white paper here.

All of these examples have created new and different boundaries, new and different expectations, new and different literacies. Each in turn has questioned the legacy of what came before it. Each in turn has challenged the status quo. Each in turn points to what the future holds. And yet, as we look ahead to the next five years, all that we can be certain of is that change will continue to be a cornerstone of what is to come.

The degree to which an organisation is able to allow its employees the freedom to adapt to that change – freedom within a framework – will determine its likely success. As will the degree to which its employees, more often than not those lone voices, are willing to take on the challenge.

Thankfully, if nothing else, social is teaching organisations to become more tolerant, more understanding, more open to the increasingly serendipitous nature of business. Yet even as we continue our journey of familiarisation with our emerging surroundings, more questions inevitably arise:

  • What will customer service look like in five years time?
  • What will the contact centre look like?
  • What will the service model look like?
  • How will resolutions be delivered? Who will deliver
  • them? Create them? Curate them? Validate them?
  • What tools will organisations be using?
  • Which vendors will still be around?

As boundaries continue to be reset, as the underlying service model continues to be disrupted and decentralised, the margins will increasingly become the centre ground from which a new service model will emerge or perhaps, converge.

So, as I look to the next five years, the question I ask myself is this: What do applications like Snapchat, Google Hangouts, or Waze tell us about the future of customer engagement and how it will be provided?

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