Customer Service In A Networked Village.

by Patrick Liew on August 20, 2019

Customer Service In A Networked Village.

Customer service is like a marriage.

The objective is almost similar – to build a healthy, mutually-beneficial, and sustainable relationship.

However, if you do not manage the customer well, just like a broken marriage, there will be unnecessary and even painful conflict, distress, and losses.

As you work towards developing a positive relationship with your customer, remember that the world of customer service is undergoing a sea change.

The world has become increasingly interconnected and interdependent, and is becoming a networked village.

A community where online and offline channels are fast-changing and they are redesigning traditional borders and boundaries.

The resulting dynamics have made a permanent shift on how you relate to your customers and cultivate their respect, trust, affection and loyalty.

There are 3 mega-shifts that should warrant your attention and response.

1. Customer service begins before the first contact.

Before the first contact, your customers may check you out online and through other sources, especially from people who know you and have worked with you.

As they say, there is no second chance to make a good first impression.

Therefore, if your customers are not impressed, it will be harder to develop a healthy and sustainable relationship.

In a networked village, information is readily available, accessible and affordable.

Be cognizant that information about you, including even trade secrets can be discovered and exposed – and if I may add – quite unpredictably.

The best way to have a positive personal reputation is to continue to live well and do good.

It’s important to review your branding position and equity on a regular basis, especially from the perspective of how it will affect customer service.

Your personal and corporate branding will influence how the customer will respond to you and form a relationship with you.

Unfortunately, most branding are accidentally developed.

Instead of living up to a branding plan, many personal brands are developed through impressions, assumptions and perceptions in the marketplace.

Therefore, find out what is the real position of your brand.

The real position is not your perception but the customer’s perception of your brand.

Perception is reality.

Monitor the “chatter” about you that is going on amongst your stakeholders.

“Chatter” includes truths, lies, half truths that are being transmitted during formal and informal communication and through online and offline channels. Even rumours can influence you and affect your relationships.

Find out proactively what your stakeholders, including your shareholders, partners, colleagues, customers and prospects are conversing about you.

If the public image is respectable, you can leverage from a position of strength to manage customer relationship and the business.

By the same token, if the image is less than desirable, you will have an uphill task to win customers’ heart and mind.

2. Serve total needs, not just professional needs.

In a networked village, you cannot show interest in one area of the customers’ life.

You need to increasingly relate to the total person and serve not just his professional but also his total needs.

It may include a part or all of the following needs:

2.1 Personal needs – customer’s needs as a unique human,

2.1 Functional needs – needs that has to do with his job and career,

2.3 Group needs – needs of formal and informal groups that may have an influence on his work and decision-making process, and

2.4 Organisational needs – needs of the organisation that he belongs to.

The above needs influence one another, and any of which need can cause detrimental effects on customer satisfaction.

Fulfill customer’s immediate and future needs. At the same time, anticipate his changing needs and exceed his ever-evolving expectations and competitors’ deliverables to meet his expectations.

3. Provide ahead-of-the-curve and on-demand services.

Customers in a networked village may not know what they want. They can also be wrong about their real needs.

In a fast-changing landscape, they may not be able to keep track of advancements and progress. There may be better solutions and services that they are not aware of.

Entrepreneurial leaders such as the late Steve Job, Mark Zuckerburg, Warren Buffet and many others offer services that may seem to be ahead of time.

They can’t control time but they can manage timing by managing and transforming customer needs.

They learned how to turn the right time to “here and now.”

For example, Steve Job has sold products that have never existed and which the customers don’t even know they need.

Think, what are tomorrow’s service challenges you need to resolve from today?

What are tomorrow’s service opportunities that you can capitalise upon from today?

As infocommunication network become more pervasive and ubiquitous, customer’s expectation of response time will increase.

The best way to respond to expectation is to be proactive in engaging customers on social media.

Stay ahead of the curve in helping them to meet even future needs.

Customer service should not be relegated to just a job, function, or department.

Customer service is a journey that you need to take with the customers to build a healthy, mutually-beneficial, and sustainable relationship.


I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

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