From care to caring: when Web 2.0 meets customer service

Yesterday while posting about something else, I commented (as an aside) about not being able to load something into my VodPod, and about the error message I received. All I said was the following:

[….For some reason I couldn’t load it into my VodPod; the error messages generated were ante-Web, a meaningless five digit error number, so I chose not to proceed.]

The post was timed at 11.36am local time. At 4.39pm the same day, a Saturday (!), I received a message from Mark Hall at VodPod. He’d read my blog, noted the comments, explained in detail the situation with the video I’d tried loading, gave me a workaround, and even apologised for the “lame” error message. Mark then went on to describe my post as a spur to action on such things. I was flabbergasted, pleasantly so,  to see service like this, and replied to his e-mail immediately. In passing I asked him what techniques he used to scan the blogosphere. And, no surprise, he replied quite quickly.

I think that what I describe above is the shape of things to come, as we move from “customer care” to “caring for the customer”. My thanks to all at VodPod.

Why is this happening, and why is it different? What has changed? First, let’s take a look at VodPod. A product that’s about nine months old, from a company (Remixation) that’s about a year old. A product with over 50,000 members already, aggregating video from over a thousand sites. A company that seems to have no more than 3 people working for it. A company that bothers to see what others have to say about its products and services and then proactively gets in touch with the commenters.

Now that’s caring. Even more amazing when you consider I pay them nothing. Incidentally, they have some very interesting advisors: Philip Rosedale from Linden Lab and Toni Schneider from WordPress, two of my favourite companies. I’ve met Philip at a Supernova event some years ago, and I use WordPress exclusively for my blogging; I’m a big fan of what people like Matt Mullenweg have accomplished. Matt was one of the first people I saw who did this kind of thing, scanning the blogosphere and responding to comments and events.

What we see happening here is something really important. When you look into many Web 2.0 companies, what you find is that people who work in those companies care passionately about what others think of their products and services. Passionately. They have a sensible work-life balance (yes most of them do have a First Life) yet they care.

And that care shows through in what they do. How customers perceive them. Maybe all of us who work at large companies need to understand something about all this. Find the people who care, and make sure they connect with customers.

12 thoughts on “From care to caring: when Web 2.0 meets customer service”

  1. Not just web 2.0 companies – I blogged a random observation about a large corporation’s foolishness and was contacted by the head of customer experience. The faults I pointed out have been changed and the dialogue continues.

  2. Delightful. These experiences are becoming more common.
    Proximity promotes caring. The Internet is draining the information swamps and breaching the ramparts around companies. This in turn restores the proximity of the village economy and the caring that went with it.

    A former boss, Dr Hagen Hultsch, used to lecture us frequently (in his pronounced German accent) about striving for ‘customer delightment’. This quaint and memorable phrase made a deep impression on us.

    What he had found out, long before the rest of us, was that getting close to the customer allowed one to see the customer’s delight, which rewarded and motivated service excellence.

  3. Out of interest, how do vodpod scan the blogosphere for reports of customer experience issues?

  4. An interesting and very different customer experience. I wonder if anyone has done research into the tangeable and non-tangeable value of revolutionizing the way that customer complaints are handled? If your example was ‘enterprised’ would the off-shore help desks and call centers totally disappear…

  5. please, i suggest that some times some of the terms should be clearified to we the students so that it will enable us do our research. eg. moving from customer satisfaction to customer delightment. please all comment should be mailed to me so as to correct my mistake. thank you.

  6. As a guy who works in a web 2.0 company “What we see happening here is something really important. When you look into many Web 2.0 companies, what you find is that people who work in those companies care passionately about what others think of their products and services.” this is true!

Let me know what you think