Customers changing medium with the same expectations

The Canadian academic and communication theorist Marshall McLuhan once said, “The medium is the message.” His work predated the Internet, but he famously predicted many of the ideas around consumers eventually being part of a global village that we now take for granted.

McLuhan’s statement can now be extended to suggest that the medium can also be the experience – how you interact with a company and access their customer service channels can have a great impact on your view of that organisation.

This Fast Company article explores the idea in an interesting way, suggesting that you cannot take an existing customer channel and then bolt on Facebook, Twitter, mobile apps, and various other tools to access customer service – the entire strategy of how to engage and provide service needs to be reconsidered because of the medium being used.

Some might argue that this is nonsense. Good service is always good service in any medium, but I can think of an immediate example based on some of my own experience in exploring the differences in various customer service channels.

How long are you prepared to wait for a phone call to be answered when calling a customer service line? 3-4 rings? Perhaps 7 at most, before you hang up and assume your call is not important? Even if it is answered, I am sure you will have experienced the dreaded message: ‘you are on hold, your call is important to us…’

However, once you are through to an agent, you generally expect your problem to be resolved or escalated within a matter of minutes.

But on channels like Twitter, where users are posting customer service queries, and expecting a response from the brand being mentioned, the consensus seems to be that answering within a few hours is an acceptable response time.

What is acceptable and practiced is very different across different mediums of customer service. Now add the changing devices into the mix – mobile, tablets, phones getting smarter – and this becomes a very complex area indeed.

I’m going to return to this topic. I want to think more about how new devices, such as tablets, combined with new customer service channels change the process for both the consumer and the company they are trying to reach. Your thoughts are welcome.


Photo by Kim licensed under Creative Commons

This entry was posted in Contact Centres, Current Affairs, Customer Service, Social Media and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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