Customer service vs customer centricity

What does customer service mean and how does it differ from customer centricity? Prior to the digital revolution the customer service side to any bank was primarily a reactionary measure. What I mean is that a bank would typically only hear from a customer when something went wrong, writes David James Pickering

What does customer service mean and how does it differ from customer centricity? Prior to the digital revolution the customer service side to any bank was primarily a reactionary measure. What I mean is that a bank would typically only hear from a customer when something went wrong, writes David James Pickering

This is what customer service consisted of and, short of face to face interaction; it’s all we had in the era before internet, facilitated by the two forms of communication available at the time; good old fashioned snail mail, or direct mail as some marketers may say – and the second being, of course, Alexander Graham Bell’s world changing invention, the telephone.

Banks had all the power.

If a complaint was submitted, how could regular Joes like us define our experience and then disseminate the quality of engagement or service we received?

The customer had no voice.

No means to communicate to the world at large their happiness or disappointment at their communication with the company. And you can bet your bottom dollar that companies of yesteryear were not looking to market any unsavory issues or inform us of customer dissatisfaction in the news!

Then the status quo shifted with the roll out of another new, world changing technological platform, the world wide web.

The internet, in its initial format, introduced us to two completely new forms of communication hitherto unheard of, which currently dominate our business and social lives – emails and instant messaging.

And just like rabbits, the channels of communication; ways to communicate with a customer and indeed each other, have multiplied.
What followed was an interaction explosion.

The web facilitated real time instant communications which began to greatly affect the world on a business, social and even political scale. The value of this form of communication was obvious. It gave a voice to the masses and individuals alike. Companies scrambled to take advantage of the buzz giving rise (and fall) to a myriad of communication platforms (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoomail, WhatsApp, Live messenger and so on).

Just as everybody was reeling from the rapid advancement of this technology, and getting to grips with the functionality and scope of these new tools, social media smashed onto the scene to join the party.

Now, if you talk to anybody who is 18 or under, they may be quite shocked if you ask them to send an email.

"Emails are dead!" One teenager told me recently. "Nobody send emails anymore, it’s all about Social Media!"

And if we believe the trends, that young lad was right.

With the proliferation of mobile devices, tablets and smart phones, coupled with very fast connectivity such as 4G, the torrent of channels of communication are raging more than ever.

Ok, so let’s do a quick recap of available channels; direct mail, telephone, conference call/Webex, email, instant message, text message, multimedia messaging, tweeting, Instagramming, sharing, private messaging on Facebook, LinkedIn and all the other various platforms and formats for social messaging.

All of which will deliver your message to the recipient almost anywhere in the world, instantly! Providing, of course, they have signal!
In the twenty three years or so of the world wide web things have evolved and become more complex. Traditional customer service is simply no longer a viable option for companies that want to grow with the times.

The speed and ease of current communication technology allows access to every offer every company makes so price and product have had to become pretty much standardised across the board. The only thing left to compete on is the way in which the customer experiences your company, their journey while interacting with you whether that be in branch, web chat, email telephone or website.

This is the new business battlefield.

Managing all of these interactions via all the channels can be clumsy work and difficult unless you have the right tools for the job.
We all need one system to consolidate, automatically action and identify personal traits that lead to a more succinct and relevant message, which in turn provides the back office backbone of any organisation that wishes to embrace the future.

It’s a shift in the conventional paradigm I know, but the nature of the universe is change!

And let’s not forget where the power resides now; the customers have it, as they now have the knowledge, or at least access to the information that they require to make informed decisions.

I won’t make the obvious Francis Bacon adage about knowledge and power, rather ask a closing question.

Is your bank ready for customer centricty?