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Are You Ready for Customer Service 4.0?
CRM Evolution '10 — Day 2: ThinkJar founder Esteban Kolsky says the future of customer service will be service provided by customers.
Posted Aug 7, 2010
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NEW YORK, August 3, 2010 — At a forward-looking presentation here at CRM Evolution 2010 entitled "Embracing Customer Service 4.0," Esteban Kolsky, principal and founder of ThinkJar, asserted that customer service can never be reinvented.

Instead, Kolsky told attendees, customer service merely adapts to new models that keep customer satisfaction high and company costs low. To that end, Kolsky said, there are five major trends in the customer service industry:

  • social CRM;
  • crosschannel (not multichannel);
  • customer experience management;
  • mashups; and
  • collaborative enterprise.

[Editors' Note: For more coverage from the CRM Evolution conference, please click here.]

Although Kolsky (@ekolsky on Twitter) addressed changes in technology, he largely attributed success in customer service with organization and simplicity.

"[Customer service is] not about technology, although technology helps," he said. "It's not about people, although people implement it. From the company perspective, the most important thing you have to do with customer service is implement a customer service strategy....There are different people telling you what a strategy is and how you're supposed to use it and all that. To me, a strategy is pretty simple. If you can answer the question about what technologies will affect customer service for the next two to three years? How can you leverage customer service to make you better than the competition?"

He paused before emphasizing his point: "If you answer those questions, you have a strategy."

Decades years ago, Kolsky told the audience, businesses were spared the burden of grappling with customer service because they knew how to maintain and repair the products they produced themselves. He added that customer service also didn't exist "because, for the most part, we knew what were doing when we created the product." Kolsky stated that customer service truly emerged nearly 50 years ago when companies started making the transition from a production economy to a service economy.

"You're not really selling anything. There is no product. There is nothing to break. Whether you call or you don't, service issues were more about how we deal with customers," he pointed out.

According to Kolsky, dealing with customers now relies heavily on how you handle social CRM, as social media doesn't require a one-on-one interaction like that of a phone call or an email. Because of the viral nature of sites such as Twitter and Facebook, customers often become that one-on-one experience for other customers, trading information about experiences with brands.

Kolsky described this hybrid of social CRM and customer service as "the future," and as a customer service practitioner, "music to [his] ears."

"My community becomes my voice....I don't have to do anything. My customers will take care of everything. It doesn't get any better than that. You want to save money? You don't even have to pick up the phone anymore. The community is going to become your customer service," he continued.

Kolsky also warned against concentrating on specific experiences within a business as a way to improve customer service. Citing an example to his recent trip to Disney World, Kolsky emphasized considering the customer experience in its entirety, as opposed to focusing on improving experiences within different mediums.

"Disney does not work on the parking experience, or the tram experience, or the ride experience, or the microbrewery experience," said Kolsky. "Disney works on the experience. Disney understands that any experience is an end-to-end process."

News relevant to the customer relationship management industry is posted several times a day on destinationCRM.com, in addition to the news section Insight that appears every month in the pages of CRM magazine.

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