A few months ago I was preoccupied with thinking about what was the best way to mark five years of social customer care; a space I had been and continue to be involved with since 2008. I decided to produce a retrospective that brought together some of the key commentators and pioneers I had got to know over the last five years, who were involved in that space. The result was – Five Years of Social Customer Care: The Pig Puts on Some Lipstick and the Fish Come Out to Play! The quotes below are all taken from this. Please feel free to download the retrospective here.

The first five years of social customer care has been and gone, and there's no doubt that social media, in particular Twitter and Facebook, has been catalytic in the shift towards a more decentralised and empathetic form of customer service. Despite this, the nagging feeling remains that in reality, very little has changed and companies are still no closer to overcoming many of the challenges that they have always faced when engaging with their customers. 

As Esteban Kolsky writes: “...very few of them have implemented social-aware or social-centric processes, instead using the traditional processes and a hodgepodge of models to integrate data flow (not always well done, usually done manually).”

Organisations are still no closer to the single view of the customer, channel strategies are having to become more complex and intricate to respond to the individual and collective needs of the proliferation of touchpoints, agent desktops are still as cluttered as they always were, and there appears to be no slowing down in the appetite of customers to embrace or experiment with the  continuing proliferation of apps. Organisational boundaries are being prodded and provoked at every moment. 

There is no doubt that we are in a period of rebalancing the scales. Through social, customers are holding up the mirror. As Martin Hill-Wilson eloquently puts it: “It's a real-time corporate mirror that tells the truth when asked “Who is the fairest of them all?”

In this period of rebalancing, organisations are having to respond to speed, transparency and empathy amongst other things. 

Speed: As John Bernier writes when talking about BestBuy's #Twelpforce: “Making sure any customer (ours or not) knew all we knew, as quickly as we could share it”.

Transparency: In the words of Dr Natalie Petouhoff when she talks about the Witness Factor: “I wanted something that encapsulated the fact that for the first time in history – how a company treats their customers is publicly and permanently displayed for customers (current, past, and potential) as well as competitors to see”.

Empathy: Wendy Lea writes: “The most successful brands today are those that truly and passionately want to embrace the customers' needs and grow together through excellent customer experiences”.

Wendy Lea finishes the quote by writing: “It looks like everything old is new again”.

Ever was it thus!