Where Was Customer Service?

Two weeks removed from Radian6 first ever user’s conference in Boston – Social 2011 – and I’m still digesting, pondering, analyzing, processing, reflecting (and grinning).  And the one question that keeps rising to the surface is this.  Where were all the customer service people?

Don’t get me wrong.  I was ecstatic when I saw Marjorie Bynum from SOCAP.  As a respected industry leader, her presence made a statement.  And there were some other familiar faces, including you amazing folks with whom I had the pleasure to participate with on our panel discussion.  So, while I don’t have any official data on attendees’ job titles.  I did ask the question during our panel.  And about five percent of the audience raised their hands self-identifying as being in customer service functions.

So, what’s my point?  SOCAP and other customer service oriented associations have been pushing social CRM content and focusing a larger portion of conference time over the past two years on social media’s impact to customer service.  To a person, everyone I’ve met at these events in this time frame has been trying to get on top of service delivery models, operational impacts, engagement guidelines and customer services’ role in the corporate social business strategy.  So, it just struck me as a bit curious that, at Social 2011, which I viewed as more than a social media monitoring vendor’s user conference, I wouldn’t have seen a bigger representation.

Of course, as a percentage of Radian6 client base, customer service is still relatively small.  And, clearly not every company on the planet is a Radian6 customer.  But, based on the content, the lineup of speakers, the attendance from many of the brightest minds in the social CRM space, and the announcement of the Salesforce.com acquisition the week before, I would have seen this as an opportunity to suck that all up in order to launch my customer service organization forward.  A pilgrimage destination, if you’ll allow me a bit of hyperbole.

I’m not going to try to evaluate what this means.  But, I’ve been preaching for a while that customer service needs to grab the brass ring of social CRM in their organizations and stake a claim to the value of the function within the social enterprise.  Showings of force at events like these, while costly and time consuming, in part, demonstrates that this is in fact happening. 

There are, of course, other customer service and social CRM events this year, including SOCAP’s starting in two weeks in Las Vegas.  So, as to not be accused of making hasty statements and drawing false conclusions based on this one data point, I guess I’ll just have to make my way to as many remaining events this year as possible.

I know.  I know.  Its a huge sacrifice.  But, for the cause, I’ll suffer through it.  Just for you.

As a post script, I just want to thank again the folks at Radian6 for allowing me the opportunity to present at the conference.  I feel very honored to have had such an opportunity.  And, it allowed me the opportunity to meet in person more of the amazing social CRM thought leaders I’ve come to respect over the past several years. 


  1. Barry,

    The honor was all ours! We're so pleased you could be a part of our inaugural user conference so thrilled that you had a great time. As you mentioned, there was no shortage of great minds in attendance so it's nice to hear you had an opportunity to connect. I just wish we had more time together with everyone. Two days just didn't feel long enough.

    I know you'll be heading to several more events and sacrificing for the greater good 😉
    so I'll look forward to reading all about those as well.

    Thanks again for a great panel and for your kind words.

    All the best,
    Trish Forant (@Dayngr)
    Community Manager | Radian6

  2. Trish,
    Great meeting you as well. You personally were a gracious hostess and a fantastic cat hurder :) I'm looking forward to the next opportunity.


  3. Barry,
    Thanks for the shout-out, I enjoyed participating on the panel discussion with you too!

    Great blog post. I'm happy to report that one of the raised hands of the 5% was from Cisco and our teams (Marketing and Support) are working together to figure out the best approach and strategy for our company. Not a simple task by any means but at least we're on the right path.

    Best regards,
    Stephanie Marx (@steffymarx)
    Social Media Marketing Manager
    Cisco Systems

  4. Stephanie,
    I had so much fun planning for and doing that panel. the only down side was that the time went by so fast. I'm so glad to have met you. I learned a lot from listening to you. I'd say you're definitely on the right path. And YEA! for Marketing and Support playing in the same sand box! w00t! I look forward to continuing to share ideas.


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