Web care Archetypes: The Lone Wolf

Situation

Some of the archetypes I would like to start with a personal story and this is one of them:

We ordered some birthday stuff for my son online at a German football club since he absolutely loves soccer. However after ordering it there was no communication, besides after 4 days an email that things were really busy now and things might be delayed (imagine telling your customer: thanks for your money, now wait for it when we feel like shipping).

After four weeks of no communication we tried a first message on Twitter to their main account. Still deafening silence. After that a second tweet, still no response, then a third tweet reaching out to the social media manager of this club. Finally a response (not s a solution though) and he provided us with the details of somebody who could help us. After a week of more silence all of a sudden the package arrived. Just a bit too late for this birthday, though our son decided anyways to not be a fan of this club, since he prefers a club that cares.

Analysis

If you are not responding to your customers, literally in this case your fans, you have a bigger issue than just Web care not done right. Since fans are the type of customers that tend to give you recurring revenues and by creating a poor first experience you make sure the next time they won’t bother at all and won’t spend their money on you. The only reason this case seems to be solved is because of an individual that cares enough to go into the organisation to try to solve things.

In this specific case it was his job to do something with social media, however I guess service was not part of his job description. In many other cases it is somebody who is just passionate about the job he does and thinks that everybody that interacts with the products and services of his company should have a great experience. Those people go beyond their job description and make deep impact for the organisation often outside regular working hours. However it isn’t scalable and sustainable so it won’t work on the long-term or with high volume.

It might be clear that this approach (by lack of a better word) of Web care doesn’t help companies in turning Web care into a profit centre. Even worse the result of this way of working gives people a reason not to buy anything from you, because you don’t seem to care after the transaction. Also when you have just one lone wolf (or just a couple) you are running the risk that people are burning up, since they are doing so much stuff besides their day job , that you have to wonder if this is still healthy for them. This unstructured approach turns people away and creates burnouts. Neither of these two items are things you like to happen.

How to make it better

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.

Abraham Lincoln

It is plain and simple: make sure your service works. This soccer club is lucky to have a guy who is so involved to invest time in solving issues caused by others who don’t even care to reply to an email. He is probably one of the unsung heroes, however given that he is just alone he will scale poorly in the end and burn up.

This organisation needs to scale up and make sure there more people just like him and that they become pro active, instead of reactive. By becoming pro active you solve issues sooner in the process, providing the organisations and people with more time for other things, such as the proverbial ‘sharpening the axe’. Cherish the Lone wolfs, though more important let them build a pack of wolfs to make it scale. Often the Lone wolf himself is so busy he forgets to do that, so help him with this.

As soon as you have a group of Lone Wolfs most of your Web care issues are over and you’ll scale rather nicely while even providing a human face to service, instead of just showing a logo that blast out replies. By doing so, you are once again able to make a real connection with people reaching out to you via social media and by having such a connection you can increase loyalty which in itself could increase revenue in the long run. However the most important thing is that you really start caring about other people, instead of just firefighting.

The Nine Archetypes of Web care

This might be the last item I write about Web care, even though I find it very interesting to see how companies are pouring tons of cash into a brain-dead activity. Essentially, a lot of companies are trying to duct-tape their poor service online by being great on Facebook and Twitter. Because poor service is what it boils down to: you have failed with your product or service, either by delivery poor quality or make it difficult to understand it or to handle it. Seldom you see companies handling messages on social media from enthusiastic groups of fans that throw idea after idea to a company or any other positive feedback on why the products or services (or the brand in general) are so great.

Web care: the Shiny alternative for failing business processes

So the current state of Web care is pathetic, just for the simple fact that Web care is a way too narrow view on social business activities. Web care is now just playing help desk on social media. For now people perceive this as sexy because it is new. For now having a lot of people in your Web care team is something great, however if you frame it correctly it is often the sign of a company in demise that unfortunately still has too much money to spend to really see that their world is colliding.

Having a big Web care team shows that you have a lot of activity to handle. However if all you do is answering questions of your customers day in day out and these questions are nearly the same, you have an information issue: you seem not to be able to offer the right information on time to your customer: Instead of fixing the real problem you are duct taping this issue with Web care: the shiny sexy alternative for failing business processes.

Is it a thing or does it matter?

However you might realise that the thing you are doing with Web care is just that: a thing, not something that matters in one way or another let alone that it can be a profit centre for your organisation or drives real change. However it is hard to go from a thing to something that makes a difference and matters. To be able to transform this, you have to know where you are at, what you are doing wrong and what you need to do to move away from hiding process failures with the shiny new thing and move into the next stage: social business transformation; transforming your organisation towards a social business in which social adds value, instead of hiding your issues.

To make you more aware of what might be wrong with your current Web care activities, I have created a list of archetypes of the ways in which Web care is executed within organisation. With these archetypes you are able to identify your pitfalls and show what you can do to make a change. Since if you want to move forward you need to make a change, with Web care you are just running round in circles, instead of making a real substantial and sustainable change in your way of working and interacting with your ecosystem.

These archetypes are:

In the upcoming week all of these archetypes will be published and you will find links to the articles here. If you want to keep the articles as soon as these are published: scroll down and subscribe to these articles using your email.

Start transforming your business now

Coming to the end of the introduction, I realise that this is probably not the last thing I will write about Web care, just for the simple fact that there is still so much work to do in transforming  so many organisations into a social business. Although so many business already think that they are already there because they have a Web care department. Therefore there is a lot of work to do, and basically it starts here with the identification of the archetypes of Web care.