Julia wrote a great blog earlier focused on her key learnings from the event and she mentioned the question of value. This is an extremely important area that I believe every service company will be exploring at present.
We know all about output-based pricing in the service sector. For instance, an insurance company hiring a supplier to process insurance claims will probably pay a fixed amount per claim processed. They don’t care how many employees the supplier needs to process that claim, just that it gets done within an agreed time and to a certain level of reliability.
And gainsharing has become fairly common in the IT market. I have heard of a software company who went into one of the biggest TV companies in the UK and totally revised their advertising scheduling software. They didn’t charge an up front fee for the work they were performing on the systems, they charged a percentage of the increased advertising revenue that would be gained from improving how they place adverts in the programmes.
And it is this concept of value that I’m now exploring for customer services. If a client wants the phone or emails answered then it makes sense to pay for the agents who perform that function. Perhaps they might pay by call answered, but the simplest model is just to pay for the people required.
Now imagine if the customer service function goes social. Those agents are actively promoting your brand as well as deflecting calls away from the regular call centre. Now they can create value rather than just going through a standard and repetitive process.
Should they just be charged the same as agents who answer the phone?
In principle I don’t think so, however there are steps to take from a traditional customer service model to an entirely value-based one. I see social customer care being handled and charged for in the traditional way for the immediate future, but as we all become more familiar with the concept of the social web creating business value then I think value-based pricing will be the way forward.
Photo by Stephen Heron licensed under Creative Commons