The taxi driver who turned up 20 minutes late one morning to take us out on an excursion. Not his fault as the traffic had been particularly bad, but as soon he was out of the car, he walked straight over to us to apologise for keeping us waiting. By the time we sat in the car, we were assuring him that it didn't really matter.
This is no way means an end to all customer interaction. That is here to stay. This means the creation of a better approach, which moves customer interaction away from the flawed model of today towards a more useful set of interaction for both the client and the company. To achieve this would require two solutions.
Technology has been "stealing our jobs" since at least the Bronze Age, so it's surprising after all these years that any of us have a job to go to in the mornings. The tired old trope of machines stealing the bread from our children's mouths has been trotted out at intervals since the time of Ned Ludd (at least), and the reason it keeps getting an airing is simple: it plays on our fears and insecurities - and it makes great copy. This does not, however, make it true.
Customers have been extensively using Twitter to contact brands and ask for support for at least five years so it's surprising that they took this long to improve the interface. It was only recently that they removed the need for users to be following each other to send DMs, which was a major issue for brands that wanted to support customers using Twitter.
Everything seemed to be going so well, and then it happened again. "ENJOY". Nothing with it, other than perhaps an exclamation mark - "ENJOY!". You've heard it too, right? You must have done, it's everywhere; from London to LA and back again the long way around, that word echoes through our industry.
As long as social media is around, we're going to use it to complain, to ask questions and to give feedback. While brands will always have the option of ignoring our posts, they run the risk of alienating their own customers when the do so. Great customer service doesn't start with reaction, but the way brands react when things go wrong tells us a lot about the truth behind the image.
I have been reading several research reports from both sides of the Atlantic recently that talk about how customers are starting to favour the online shopping experience over the real, in-store experience. How could this be? Haven't retailers always found that some customers prefer to see and touch products before purchasing?