Some of the archetypes I would like to start with a personal story and this is one of them:
Every time I want to check in online for certain flights on my iPhone it fails. My next action is to tweet the airline whose app is failing me with the message that I cannot check in. They always ask me to send them a DM with some details of my flight. After that they ask me what chair I would like to have and after that, everything is done and I am ready to go out and fly.
This has happened now like four or five times and the app has had many updates in the mean time, though none of the updates solved the issue that I, and based on the messages on Twitter, many others have. However they still seem to be very happy to help me with the same issue over and over and every time when I asked when the issue will be fixed there is some vague answer. Not only does it cost me more of my time since checking in via Twitter is not very efficient, somebody from the airline is also spending some minutes on doing something that should be handled by the passenger himself.
Web care is more a goal on itself than a mean to accomplish something in this case. Fashionistas in Web care just do stuff because it makes them looks good on the short term, not because it serves the business on the longer term. This specific company I am talking about is very proud of the fact that they have 60 people working full time around the clock seven days a week making sure every question asked on social media is answered within the hour.
When we translate this ‘accomplishment’ into a real business issue: there are so many questions raised by their customers that they spend 3 million euro (at least) on answering them, not on fixing the root cause of the questions so they won’t occur again. Their Web care team is actually the duct tape to hide their poor service with regards to information or functionality int he first place and they keep on focusing on how shiny the duct tape is instead of a focus on solving a real business issue.
How to make it better
The most simple improvement Fashionistas such as this organisation could make is to do an analysis on what the questions are that they are already answering and take follow up actions on these types of questions. Since answering questions really fast might seem to be very good, solving the real issue is even better. Using the questions produced by customers you exactly know what things needs your attention first and where your focus should be.
Also if there is a customer with a repeating question time over time, this might be an impeding issue as well. So they should not only measure the intensity of certain topics, but also the intensity of topics per customer. Since overall trends might show a business issue, however a customer that have to reach out to you over and over might end up in a loyalty crisis.
The second improvement that they should do is to connect the Web care activities to real business goals. Answering questions within an hour doesn’t help the business, increasing customer satisfaction might help you business, reducing questions while at the same time increasing customer satisfaction might even be a better goal. Don’t end up using vanity metrics, use you real business metrics.