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I’m always impressed just how much eloquence is there for the mining on Quora. I guess it makes sense, as good answers are upvoted and people answer questions that rev their engines.

Suddenly, there’s a clarity to most threads that is addictive in its intense scrollability. 

So I searched for ‘customer experience’, to see what I could find to report back with, and to shape a proto-strategy for a transforming business. Most of the interesting stuff I found can be seen more as comment on customer service, and specifically its social dimension.

Here goes….

Your employees are people and your customers are people 

The best story to start. Greg Meyer found a job with a social CRM start-up through his enlightened answer on Quora. 

The question?

Is Twitter an effective customer service tool?

Here’s one of the best bits of Greg’s big ol’ answer.

Your Employees are People and Your Customers Are People - Why Not Let Your Brand Reflect That?

There are lots of brands that are doing an outstanding job of sounding like people, not like, well, committees. Virgin America, Zappos, and Ford Motor Company are doing a great job in social media, and (surprise!) I also want to do business with them. Even better, when I communicate with these companies on closed, non-transparent channels, I feel like the same brand proposition and value still transmits in these other mediums. (Win!)

 

Customer service in 2013: making good, staff and chat

What's the biggest challenge for Customer Experience in 2013?

Jagan gives us surely the sharpest shot of clarity.

Errors do happen and when they happen, it's a golden opportunity for the businesses to respond faster and see that the overall experience is a breeze for the customer.

There have to be all rounders and people managers at all levels in the business. A customer support executive cannot bluntly say "That's not my work. Developers have to take care of that.", instead 'accountability' has to be increased at all levels.

One way to avoid bad customer experience is by being available at all times for the customers to reach businesses instantly by using live chat services likeclickdesk.com (disclosure: I work here). This has to happen even before the customer thinks of posting a -ve feedback on social networks or review sites. Be there first!

There is almost no precedent for good customer service

I’m being disingenuous with this heading, but it’s clear that forums are full of examples of terrible terrible customer service. For example, ‘What’s the longest time that someone has been placed on hold?’

Danielle offers, ‘My parents were on hold with Continental for seven hours straight’. 

People like to discuss disaster, but the point remains that although customer service is really important for any business, previous blind spots have left service in some sectors characteristically poor. And so you’ve nothing to lose in changing your customer service processes and strategy.

 

Value proposition. What if service isn't enough?

If you work in a business that can’t necessarily beat competition into submission through customer service alone, well then your product and price takes centre stage. I’d suggest that fashion sits here.

As such…

Why do your customers buy from you?

Visakan offers a shower of eloquence on this one.

We aren't the cheapest around, and we aren't even the most reliable.

They buy from us because:

  1. We represent a narrative that they want to be a part of.
  2. We allow them to express their identity in a way that distinguishes them from the rest of the market.
  3. Slowly, we're building a community for them to be a part of.

This is interesting. The reliable comment aside, which brands can be seen to inhabit the same space? From the big brands, I’d suggest Nike. Nike iD and FuelBand are two great examples of handing control over to the customer.

There are communities outside of official Nike, e.g. NikeTalk, which show that Nike is whupping other trainer brands with its culturing of brand identity.

 

Radical commitment to a customer's needs

Cafes and restaurants provide an interesting detour on Quora. Everybody likes talking about them. They’re the Edward Hopper-Wayne’s World-Soprano’s pillar of the American dream.

And perhaps they give insight?

How do cafés/restaurants handle unwanted customers?

Peter gives us:

Business should be a desirable and beneficial exchange of goods/services between customers and an enterprise for the mutual benefit of both.

Recommend your 'unwanted' customer to your competitors

It's very important that you understand fully the value propositions of your competitors  so that you can direct your 'unwanted' customer to the establishment where they have a better chance of being a welcomed customer.

Whilst directing unwanted custom away is hard, and potentially stupid (outside of the café environment, where Peter is talking about barring obnoxious punters, I believe), there’s a point here. You must understand fully the value propositions of your competitors. Only then will you recognise when such a time arrives as you are providing nothing unique in terms of service and product.

More nightmares stemming from inconsistency

Here’s a typical Quora thread, on crap service from Terravision, who wouldn’t sell a coach ticket at a window, but would sell the exact same ticket online. I can’t speak for the veracity of this entertaining story (veracity in the sense that this counts as a typical interaction – it may not). 

But it highlights something I’ve noticed with the advent and maturation of digital. This inconsistency online and off-, with some companies.

An example would be electronics stores doing some offers that are online-only. How can the stores expect to shift any of these products?

The experience

I haven’t got much to say here, apart from the fact that this Quora post on ‘What are some elements of a great unboxing experience?’ is probably how I would sum up humanity and the internet.

On the serious side, unboxing is the perfect metaphor for how online customer experiences should work. Easy to use, clear and enticing product, all the other gubbins safely and neatly stored away, it looks good, too.

 

Netflix: virtuous cycle of subscriptions is better than selling ads 

A final note of interest here, with a nugget that is symptomatic of the good nuggety content on Quora, waiting to be un-earthed.

Who does Netflix consider their one customer, either subscribers or film publishers?

And well if the Director of Product, Netflix Website, doesn’t answer the question.

I think we're pretty clear that our subscribers are our customers. One of the advantages of a subscription business is that you are directly accountable to your consumers - they are paying us and as a result we seek to make them happy. Part of making them happy is acquiring great content, so we value our relationships with the content companies highly and do our best to satisfy them.

Our CEO has spoken publicly about how we want to provide a lot of economic value to our content partners. The virtuous cycle is: we delight our customers, they provide great word of mouth which attracts more subscribers, we then have more money to pay the studios and networks, we license more content and that makes our customers happier.  

There's actually a lot less tension here than exists when you're in an advertising-supported business, since in that case your end users (customers) and the people who are paying the bills (advertisers) are two distinctly different groups.

I might check back with more nuggets from Quora. Let me know if you have thoughts on social customer experience and service.

Ben Davis

Published 24 July, 2013 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is a senior writer at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (1)

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ND

Quora is a gold mine for information and advice, I am surprised it has not taken over yahoo answers yet!

about 3 years ago

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