Felipe Franco

Business Development Deputy Director

Views and ideas

Companies have finally started to understand that customer service has a strategic importance in their success. This realization is partly due to social media that gave customers a significant leverage in the balance between producers and consumers.

While in the past companies tended to use social media mainly to sell and market their products, today, customers are reaching out for brands via social channels to find a solution for their problems. The significance of interactions between brands and customers in the social media is amplified by the fact that everything is seen and judged by the whole community. As a consequence, the care that companies give their customers in the after-sales is becoming at least as important as the effort made during the pre-sales. Moreover, examples of negative buzz show that an inappropriate answer – or the lack of it – can damage the reputation of a company.[1]

Should this shift in the balance, and the consequent strengthening of customers’ voice, be seen as a threat to companies? Definitely NOT! This change can actually be an opportunity for brands to differentiate themselves and above all, for customer service to progress to a new level of Excellence. The ability to adapt to the ever changing market environment is a must for companies seeking success. In the context of new social channels, companies are compelled to review their business strategy and to work hard to innovate while creating customer services which will benefit everybody: customers, employees and shareholders.

Brands will need to become more human by getting closer to their customers and engaging in dialogue to understand their needs and expectations. Customers want to talk to another human when interacting with a company. They want to be heard, understood and have their request or problem handled in a professional, personalized and remarkable manner. As a consequence, the B2C paradigm will need to give place to the H2H (Human to Human) for the benefit of all stakeholders involved in customer service.

This ‘humanization’ of customer service is only possible by engaging and empowering customer representatives to make decisions that benefit the business but that also create customer satisfaction and retention. However, empowerment alone is not enough. It’s necessary that customer care agents are properly trained, coached and supported so that they are able to make the right decisions to overfulfill customer’s expectations. Above all, it’s necessary that companies give priority to the wellbeing of their staff members: after all “a happy agent makes a happy customer”.

While social media will continue to give customers a stronger voice to communicate with brands, the empowerment of customer service representatives is essential to produce a more human and enriching relationship between brands and customers. Innovation will remain a key factor to bring about this change and to continue ‘wowing’ and retaining customers. At the end of the day, it costs less to keep a customer than to acquire a new one!

There is a tough but very exciting future in front of those who understand the need of a human face for customer service. Are you up to the challenge?