Customer Service Bracing for the Social Cyborgs

UC Unplugged

Customer Service Bracing for the Social Cyborgs

By TMCnet Special Guest
Tim Dreyer, Director for Public and Analyst Relations at Aspect
  |  July 08, 2014

A new wave of complainers-for-hire could force brands to make radical changes in how they manage social customer service. The speed and spread of new online services that help amplify the lack of – or at least the lag in – customer service response is happening at a rapid pace. And while it’s premature to panic, organizations that have a socially-active customer base should put these new complaint-assist services on their radar.

It’s no surprise to any B2C organization that a mishandled promotion or a complaint gone viral can be problematic in today’s social media environment. Just look at J.P. Morgan and its backfired #AskJPM campaign, or Amy’s Baking Company’s overly aggressive social media response to ira appearance on a restaurant reality show. Once it’s out there, you can’t stop it, you can only hope to contain it.

Information, and the ease of consumer access to it, has shifted the scales of power from company to consumer. Empowered by the wealth of information delivered to and managed through their smartphones, consumers have decided to fight back. And a few enterprising companies are helping them. A new wave of applications and services, almost zombieTerminator-like, are coming into the customer service scene designed to do a disgruntled customer’s bidding for them. Here are just a few.

GripeO – A better way to complain

Let’s start with the appropriately named GripeO. GripeO aims to increase the visibility of a consumer complaint while motivating a customer service response from the company being complained about. Complaints submitted to GripeO are taken right to the business to be addressed. Some of those companies are GripeO partners, whiles others will be contacted by GripeO on the consumer’s behalf. Look at them as contract complainers who will ratchet up the volume and visibility of the issue you have with a company until it gets resolved to your satisfaction, within reason of course. It this service takes off, it won’t be long before griping takes on a life of its own.

CXPro – The Customer Experience Professionals

CXPro bills itself as a customer experience consulting company specializing in both business-to-business as well as business-to-consumer experience consulting. Its scope of work spans from in-store experience to mobile experience, as well online. CXPro also has @CXalert, a dedicated Twitter (News - Alert) feed that encourages people to tweet good or bad customer experiences so they can retweet and “create accountability for both great and poor service.” Unlike GripeO, CXPro’s intent is to create a shamestorm of sorts when bad customer service happens, which gives the company an opportunity to illustrate the need for its services to the company affected. But for the consumers, it provides additional volume to their issues and greater leverage to get a more favorable resolution. – Air your Views. is sort of like a Reddit for customer service. Through a dashboard broken into several different industries, people can submit, view, and vote on customer experiences other people have had with companies. But notes that the site is not a platform for slander. The company bills the site as a clever, economical, and cost-effective way for companies (who have subscribed), to monitor their business and customers. Those companies then have the opportunity to engage and respond to those customers on the site. In other words, if you are not a corporate subscriber, you won’t be able to respond to the screamer, angry that your company’s service technician never showed up to fix his or her cable.

So while these resolution robots haven’t turned customer service on its head just yet, you only need to look at current model disrupters like Uber and Square to realize that consumers can turn a startup sleeper into an overnight player nearly overnight. The question is: How does a contact center prepare? Reactionary service delivered purely to pull an angry customer off a public platform will only encourage more of them to do the same. This is why GripeO,, and others are coming on to the scene. If organizations create a service response that lets customers engage on their terms, and lets them resolve issues over the channels they choose while creating an omni-channel experience where engagement can start on one channel and pick up exactly where they left off on another, services like these won’t have a robotic leg to stand on. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle