There is a cottage industry in conducting executive tours of Silicon Valley, and now increasingly San Francisco SOMA, to expose teams from other parts of the planet to what is admittedly a uniquely successful culture of innovation and wealth creation. I’m all for it up to a point. Where I part company from the herd is with the notion that global corporations have a chance in hell of playing the same game. They don’t. Here’s why.
In the Age of the Product, customer service ensured that the product lived up to its specifications. Everything after that was the customer’s responsibility, not the vendor’s. In the Age of the Customer, the bar has been raised. Now it is the outcome that must live up to the customer’s expectations, else it is the vendor who is left holding the bag. That requires a whole new function, what the SaaS sector has taught us to call customer success. Let’s take a closer look at what has to change.
First of all, we still need customer service. Products still break, implementations still go awry, and parts still wear out, and they all need to be attended to. The traditional CRM customer service model is admirably suited to the task. It is organized around a trouble ticket generating a case which is managed through to a resolution with the data captured in a knowledge base to better inform the next case. This is by design a product-centric model, putting a premium on accuracy of information and reduction of errors, with productivity being measured first and foremost by the number of cases closed and the time taken to close each one.
What this system does not measure well is the customer side of the equation.