The social age
Connecting with consumers online is now a expectation in customer service. In fact we have expectations down to response times. An extract from the 2015 Eptica Multichannel Customer Experience Study shows that for the majority of customers you have 6 hours to respond. Twitter is the fastest environment where not responding within 60 minutes is failing a basic expectation!
This is just the way it is now, there is no rolling back the clock. Millennials make up a large demographic of consumers and the general culture has shifted from the golden age of the call centre to most customers preferring to interact via chat and social channels. So while brands move steadily toward this digital transformation, we need to ask the question – are we losing our humanity?
Are we missing something by not dealing with another human face-to-face or hearing a voice at the end of a phone?
It seems like we’ve been heading in this direction since the development of the telephone, where the quality of voice gets degraded to a level where it’s ‘just enough’ to get your drift through. Next time your at an airport, tell me if you can hear the difference between an “F” & “S” when they’re announcing flights over the airport speakers.
Losing our humanity
Spalding Gray talks about this loss in this segment from ‘Swimming to Cambodia’
They still speak through tubes, they don’t have electric intercoms
And suddenly I had this fondness for the Russian navy… where you could still hear doubt, compassion, love, fear.
It almost seems like the effort for real human connection gets placed elsewhere – influencers with huge social followings are very important to brands for this reason. Because people connect at some level with influencers this creates an enormous level of trust and that’s what brands crave – in fact, trust is the ultimate purpose of brand.
The progressive folks that do use social and chat would argue that we still do connect with our customers, it’s just different. Imagine that you’re in a public place and silently judging every other person, as they scroll fanatically on their mobile. If you watch them long enough you might see a smile, or hear a laugh. Emotions and human interactions still exist, some life is being lived through mobile phones, it’s just different.
In reality, there is still someone on the other end of that tweet or post. There is still someone trying to build rapport, it’s just not via body language or voice tone. Communicating online is a new skill, the capacity to really empathise with someone online is something worth pursuing.