The issue facing companies is that more consumers are using smart phones and thus require non-flash based web pages designed for mobile users. Nothing worse than driving along the highway navigating the traffic and a mega-sized static text page of FAQ strings, scrolling, cursing, reading, hitting a guard rail etc. trying to find the simplest information based on your query in real time. ( Hey- its illegal in most places now to be juggling that smart phone behind the wheel so don't FAQ and drive!)
You can then hit their 1-800 number and hope to get a response. More than likely they are putting you on hold to see if you will try the FAQ on the web site first! This makes sense from their point of view, but certainly not yours. What if you choose to ping the @yourcompany Twitter channel or the Facebook page for the info you need? Smart company managers have manned the Social Channels with snappy Co-Ops or Interns that try to act as brand ambassadors whose main goal is to appease and deflect any negative vibes back to you with a sexy link to the FAQ's or other painful Web 1.0 "solution".
During my research for our Airport and Airline projects,I found some cool web self service cloud based solutions that any company can add to their website that offsets the pain point customers feel when looking for help. Aggregating all customer touch points into one simple channel then hitting a scalable, multi-language engine makes total sense.
The value is immense- improve customer satisfaction through first query resolution thereby reducing calls to live agents, live chats etc. So much so, that in many cases prospects became customers by moving along the customer aligned needs thread. Creating ROI in hard dollar savings and creating new customers with technology-what a novel approach.
This model also allows you to properly use social channels strategically in that you add these query resources to them. For Twitter, it becomes a query string reducing the need to listen and monitor, escalate a case and then respond; and for Facebook, let customers ask a question from within the FB page and getting a real time response. Again this offsets the Social Media focus of trying to monitor and respond in these discrete channels and not really increasing responsiveness in terms of accurate responses.
You dont want to give away control of customer service to your social channels, but use them for search value and some ads etc. but surely not to use them as an end to end platform for customer service or market research. Open API's allow this to scale and provide analytics, case handling etc.
The platform is not intended to replace a Call Center or Social Media tools or a CRM system, but to augment the experience of simply asking a question in the form of a natural language with semantic and syntaxic support. It actually learns and responds with trending data as per traffic patterns, making it a boon to management in terms of payback and low overhead.
So perhaps its time to rethink how the toolbox of channels and tools can be used to actually solve customer problems and find gold in the process. Ping me with a e mail (ours works) or DM me if you would like to chat about how this might help in your world.