Social media and customers

August 1, 2012

First of all I picked up from a Tweet by Jerry van Leeuwen that there was a new item on the Harvard Business Review blog network by Frances Frei and Anne Morriss. Nothing particularly new there, for as they say “social media improves service by making the market for peer-to-peer opinion more efficient”. They break this up into three components – ‘service recovery’, service improvement’ and ‘customer training’.  Then a post on the Econsultancy blog on 24 July 2012 by Patricio Robles entitled “Is Twitter creating a VIP customer service channel?” repeats a similar argument with examples concluding that “social media is a supplement to existing customer service programs, not a replacement”.

This was then reinforced by the weekly news email from Gerry McGovern who stated that “many customers go to social media sites to complain”. Gerry states that “Organizations have abused words such as community and loyalty for a long time. There s a need to get real.” This is combined with an attack on the ‘sticky’ websites of old. He states that there research indicates the need to help customers:

  • trust the information they receive
  • receive clear messages at each decision stage
  • weigh the options confidently

This is equally appropriate to government and the failure to do so is why citizens continue to use multiple channels. The advise from Frei & Morriss, along with Patricio Robles, might help regain that trust. Whilst I remain less skeptical on social media for government I do think any approach needs to be done on a strategic basis and follow some of the best practice already identified.


Measuring what matters!

September 23, 2008

Having wondered in the last blog if I was a lone voice crying in a wilderness, it now appears even less so! Not hot news but current and relevant is the fact that the Government of Victoria, Australia has taken out a two year licence on the Canadian Common Measurements Tool (CMT)! The CMT is a set of survey questions and scales that allow individual agencies to survey their own customers’ satisfaction and identify service delivery improvements for service users. This follows on the Government of South Australia  doing the same thing but Victoria is frequently seen as a leader in matters e-government. 

My personal view is that whilst the CMT might be a great instrument for large governments its a little too big for those without the resoiuces to act upon the feedback.

A further reinforcement was reading relatively recent papers such as  Understanding Customer Experience by Christopher Meyer and Andre Schwager (Harvard Business Review, February 2007), which demonstrates a move from thinking about customer relationship management to customer experience management. Schwager is a founder of Satmetrix Systems that actually produces software to collect customer feedback.

I believe government organizations, despite being in a different market, need to collect the satisfaction data but instead of comparing with competitors, allow for the gap with  public expectation and monitor changes and feedback across channles. If expectation levels are managed honestly and the gap identified, management can then be attempted for any major variance. This needs to be done across all public facing channels to ensure adequate resourcing.

Primarily there is a need to be realistic with expectations.