Proactive customer relations

I’m participating in the beta test of a pretty cool product that helps marketers track the blogosphere buzz about their brand. Everyone and their brother was freaked by Jeff Jarvis’ Dell Hell last summer, rushing to identify the dissatisfied before they convert from a complaint to a veritable s%$t storm of negative sentiment. Enter the vendors to fill the need.
All this monitoring of commentary leads to inevitable question of what to do about it. You’ve identified the squawks, seen the pain, but how do you engage in the conversation? Rick Klau at Feedburner had a couple hard disk failures, so I phoned him — didn’t post a comment to his blog post — and told him, based on our pre-existing relationship that harks back to IDG, that I’d like to help him, should he need any. Well … what about people I don’t have a personal relationship with? What about Joe Consumer who is beefing on a blog or forum about what a terrible experience he is having with the product? Do I phone him? There isn’t enough hours in the day. But ….
Which leads me to the notion of “pre-emptive support.” What if the service and support model was changed from an inbound, you-call-us system to the reverse? That if a customer complains in the wilderness, the monitoring tools alert an outbound customer support person of the issue, who in turn reaches out and solves it. The question is whether or not a person posts after they’ve struggled with phone support, or before.
Seems simple enough, but having no experience in support, I can’t predict how it would drive costs or impact margins.

A weekend in the garden, a week in Europe


Originally uploaded by dchurbuck.

The rains abated on Cape Cod long enough to drive me into the flower beds with roto-tiller, soaker hose, and tons of mulch. The spring has been delayed by the record deluge, but my allergies say it is back on track.

Off to Paris tonight for meetings, then London, then back on the
Cape Friday afternoon in time for the long weekend. I’m looking forward to the train through the Chunnel on Wednesday night, but other than that, this is going to be a fast trip confined to conference rooms, hotels, and coach class.

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