“This Call May be Recorded…"

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Five years ago, after United Airlines broke Dave Carroll’s guitar, he decided to do something about it. In the first 24 hours his YouTube video parody received 150,000 hits, and the social customer service rebellion was born.

Yesterday we got another data point. An over-zealous retention specialist at Comcast went ‘Fatal Attraction’ (“I will not be ignored Dan”) on customer Ryan Block. Ryan recorded the event on Soundcloud, and in the first 24 hours the audio clip garnered nearly 2 million hits. It also spawned thousands of articles at Gawker, Business Insider, The Verge, Consumerist, TechCrunch, and CNET. Comcast and its employee were lambasted in much of the media coverage.

In many ways it’s not fair. Both United and Comcast provide millions of good experiences every day, but in the last five years the impact of one poor experience on brand perception has increased by orders of magnitude. The impact of this sea change has massive implications on organizations with large customer bases, like the Communications Service Providers I work with, which need to re-examine the ROI and prioritization of spending on CRM technology. Let’s consider the following:

Customer Service technology spending that guides agents and reduces the potential for “tweet-worthy” poor experiences is far more valuable to the CMO than it was five years ago. Compare this to the value of traditional marketing automation technology, which has likely decreased in value. Hear EE, the UK’s largest mobile provider, discuss this shift in value.

“Big data” use cases that improve the experience for existing customers are now potentially more valuable than those that drive new customer acquisition or revenue generation. Better use of big data, combined with these 6 retention best practices could have easily prevented the recent Comcast disaster.

It is increasingly dangerous to evaluate the ROI of a “marketing” experience versus that of a “service” experience in isolation, since the customer just wants one coherent and continuous experience and the business needs to execute that way. 

In his new book “Build for Change”, Pega CEO Alan Trefler echoes this sentiment. Of note, he describes ‘Generation D’ as the generation that can destroy your brand, if they choose. So beware, when customers call you have to assume that they have their MP3 recorders armed and ready, and “this call may be recorded” can take on a whole new meaning.


Today’s CRM technologies are an epic fail when it comes to consistent customer service. Discover a better way: download the Top 5 Trends in Customer Service Innovation eBook.