Web care Archetypes: The Schizophrenic


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

We ordered a solarium at a post order company. All went fine until one of the lamps broke down. Those things can happen so we contacted the customer service of this company and they told us they would fix this quickly. After two weeks, which we don’t consider as ‘quickly’, we decided to contact them again. Again the promise was that the service department would contact us almost immediate to make an appointment to fix it.

After a few days we decided to send out a tweet which triggered a very fast response and the Web care department called us. They discovered that they had the wrong phone number in their systems and changed it and after that it seems fine. However the service department, which was in a different silo so it seems, didn’t got an update on the new phone number and still tried to dial the old number. In the end, after some more tweets back and forth it was fixed, though the speed on how things were moving forward depended on which department we were talking with.


This is the typical example of a company in which the Web care team has a bigger mandate than the traditional service desk. Or at least the Web care team can go the extra mile instead of a typical call centre that tries to make you hang up the phone after 1 minute and 27 seconds, since then they could do 40 calls per hour which is so great for their productivity. This also results that you not only hang up the phone, but also hang up on the company.

However the call centre in this case might not be performing below average in their market, the Web care team creates the perception that this call centre is just a poor performing piece of legacy that is always out performed by the fresh and the new: the Web care team. Just because they are allowed to do so much better.

Even though this establishes the much desired switching of channels by the consumer, since serving somebody via social media is often cheaper than serving somebody via a call centre, this is not a sustainable approach to make sure the switch on long term. The only reason your customer switches is because they are being mistreated in one channel and treated like kings in another channel. Not everybody will make the switch, since not everybody is willing to go for a second try on a different channel.

Again this is you losing clients by having a very schizophrenic approach towards service: cheap in the call centre and royal in the Web care channel.  The bitter taste of poor quality lingers long after the sweet taste of low price is forgotten. Having a great Web care is seldom really great on the long run in this case.

How to make it better

Fire your Web care department and integrate it with your existing service department / call centre. There is no need to differentiate these two, especially not in a way that ends up in a service schizophrenia. Make sure that all your service and care activities are aligned and have similar KPIs. If one group of people needs to solve issues within 2 minutes and the other group of people just have to make sure it is being solved, you create different experiences and your customers will notice. Don’t glorify the service department, since basically all they do is correcting failures that occurred in an earlier process and bother the customer, however empower them so they can work with the rest of the organisation to make sure those failures won’t happen again.

Call centres traditionally strive to a 100% utilisation of their people. From that perspective it might even make more sense to integrate Web care with the traditional service department. Since if there are no calls and utilisation might drop below this very much desired 100% you can handle the digital channel to boos the utilisation and vice versa.

It is wrong to use different teams for different channels, I just assume you never have a had a fax-team in your organisation. Your customer is reaching out to you because of something that they didn’t expect to happen. They don’t reach out to you because you are using a certain channel. Therefore make sure the experience is always brilliant, since you might not always get a second chance.