In today’s hyper-connected world, strong ethics in customer service can indeed deliver real and sustained business value. Georgetown University, with its historical focus on ethics, ability to anticipate the future of business and proactive engagement in the world—go out and do good—gets this. Neil Ashe, president and CEO of Global eCommerce for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., and I also agreed wholeheartedly on this statement when we recently spoke at a Georgetown University alumni event.
Under the direction and leadership of David Thomas, Dean of McDonough School of Business at Georgetown, the business school is creating new opportunities for students to remain on the cutting edge. These students are training to be our next leaders – and consumers—to work toward profits and shareholder value with every move and decision they make. Isn’t it our responsibility as technology innovators and leaders in the customer service industry to do the same? It’s up to us to anticipate the future of business and proactively engage the “right” way, with transparency.
Look at social customer engagement – who’s engaging and who’s not on the range of social networks are the big questions of the moment. Customers are looking for ways to create and share experiences with each other. It is up to the brands themselves to extend an experience across social channels worthy of being shared. It is also up to those brands to provide transparency about their businesses, products and services online.
Of course, this type of transparency requires a significant pivot in approach. Social media has disrupted customer care and has changed the very definition of customer service. “Transactions” are a thing of the past. Now, there are conversations to be had, relationships to be developed and interactions to transpire. Critical to this is allowing customers to understand the types of brands that they are developing relationships with.
In this new era of CRM, where the customer and the company engage in a two-way, real-time interaction on the consumer’s channel of choice, many brands have been simply increasing communications about a particular sale or a product. Unfortunately, that means that they are missing the service opportunities afforded by these new consumer touch points.
Earlier this year, a LiveOps Research with Harris Interactive survey revealed 85% of Americans agree that how a company handles issues on their website or on social channels is a good indicator of their customer satisfaction and the quality of their support. Brands who choose not to engage on the channels consumers are choosing, are inadvertently painting a distorted picture of themselves. They are advocating that transparency is not a given but rather an occasional practice, too often limited to “only when it’s good for the brand.”
Brands can, and should, become part of consumers’ online experiences. In order to do so, they must act transparently and view these online interactions as part of a complete customer service portfolio – one with the potential to directly impact their bottom line.
Listening to Dean Thomas’ opening remarks that evening, it’s evident that Georgetown is doing everything possible to train leaders for today’s highly engaging business environment. It’s simply our responsibility now, to ensure that the fundamentals of doing right by the customer are maintained.
– Marty Beard, President and CEO
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