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Welcome to an @YourService World

Posted on : 12-04-2012 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Business, Customer Service, Social Media

Tags: , ,

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My book, @YourService is now available via Amazon, and coming soon to a book store near you!  The book was originally titled in my mind as Common Sense.  The reason for this is service has been in trouble for years, but, thanks to social media, the Customer is gaining even greater control over your brand image.  Now it is key for companies to deliver on their brand promise, otherwise Customers will define that promise for them.  Customer Service has struggled for years in developing their identity; oftentimes referred to as a “cost” center.  Companies had the opportunity to change this on their own, but instead the call center became the “sales” center.  Don’t you love call centers that run as sales centers?  Every time you call, instead of focusing on your needs or the reason for the call, they focus on selling some additional service.  Social media is a game changer.  Many have thought the change was too marketing or PR, but in my mind it is really a change to the overall culture of the company, and the Customer will now be first!  I hope you enjoy reading the book, and please share with others.  Together we can change the Customer Service industry and drive all businesses to focus on the relationship!

Here is a foreword from the book written by Jeff Jarvis:

I thought Frank Eliason had a terrible job: handling complaints from customers for the largest company in a much-disliked industry, Comcast.

But he did wonders. He fixed customers’ problems. He doused a bonfire set by a well-known grump (I’ll let Frank tell you about ComcastMustDie.com). But most amazing—with humor, directness, and credibility—he put a friendly, human face on a cold corporation.

He did it on Twitter. While many other companies were just discovering social media and using it mostly as a promotional platform for their institutional messages, Frank used his Twitter name, @comcastcares (picked, I’d like to think, with just a dash of irony), to talk with customers, to listen first, and to build relationships. He lived and worked the precepts taught by that seminal work of Internet culture, the “Cluetrain Manifesto,” now a decade old, which decreed that markets are conversations; conversations are held among people, not institutions; and we customers can hear the difference.

Frank brought his company back from the brink of its own Dell Hell. I should know. I’m the customer who unwittingly set loose a consumer firestorm on Dell when I complained on my blog—these were the ancient days before Twitter—about a lemony laptop. Dell at first ignored the complaints of bloggers, but after a year, when Michael Dell returned to the company’s helm, it dispatched technologists to fix grousing bloggers’ complaints. It blogged with a human voice. It set up a service, Ideastorm, to capture and implement customers’ ideas. In social customer service, Dell leapt from worst to first, setting a model for many to following, including Comcast.

Frank has since moved on, from cable to banking (or some might say, from the frying pan to the fire). And customer service as a trade is also moving on with new tools introduced regularly to help companies track and respond to complaints, sentiment, and memes about them traveling through the net at broadband speeds.

But this isn’t a craft—and Frank’s isn’t a story—of technology. It’s a story of people. It’s about returning to the days when people at companies knew customers by name and customers could name people in companies. It’s about a resurgence of accountability. It’s about the kinds of sensible, courteous, and decent suggestions Frank  give you here to build honest and productive relationships with customers.

Productive. That, I believe, is the next phase in this rapidly evolving field of social customer service: moving past complaints to collaboration, moving from putting out fires to building new products together. In my book, Public Parts, I tell the story of Local Motors, a company that collaboratively designs and builds cars. Now that might sound absurd, but it works so well that the company is not only producing cars—together with customers, making design and business decisions—but the company is also in a position to help even big car companies learn how to make customers partners.

When customers are treated with respect and given the right tools to connect with companies—with the people inside companies—then amazing things can happen. That’s really the moral of Frank’s story about his relationship with customers.

One more note: By day, I am a journalism professor at the City University of New York. As such, I will confess that I cringed when I saw Frank capitalizing the word “customer” at every reference. The copyeditor in me wanted to correct them, to make each lower case. But Frank will explain why he does this and he won me over because we are all Customers.

—Jeff Jarvis Author, Public Parts

Comments (2)

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