A brand’s image can tarnished within a minute in today’s society due to social media, increased public accessibility to the internet, and the introduction of new technology. With a brand’s image this vulnerable, more actions of defense are needed by not only managers, but also by their employees. Customer service is a widely known skill to have in any business, but applying this skill through a technology-based median can be challenging. Proper time, planning, and training needs to be considered for success in serving customers through the internet.
In the article Empowered, by Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler, they explain how much power the public has over a brand’s image through the internet. They also shed light on the importance of innovation in customer service using different technologies and social media. They also provide real life examples of what is being done today that contributes towards a more technology-friendly work environment for many customer service employees. Customer service is a universal skill, so the geographic scope of this article is applicable to companies and businesses throughout the world. The ideas of accepting the normalization of technology and integrating it into a workforce can be tailored and used by virtually any business that includes customer service.
The article also explains how technological innovations are managed within businesses.Key Findings and Contributions Bernoff and Schadler begin the article with examples of instances when public figures take to the internet to inflict damage to a brand’s image due to poor customer service. A musician named Dave Carroll wrote a song about his experience with United Airlines. A bag handling employee of United accidently broke Carrolls guitar, and when United refused to pay for the damages, Carroll wrote a song “United Breaks Guitars” and posted it to Youtube, a video sharing website that attracts billions of viewers a day (Bernoff & Schadler, 2010). The damage done to United Airlines through the Youtube video happens on a daily basis, maybe not to the extent of a written song, but customers take to the internet to voice their complaints often.
On the social media platform, Twitter, members tweet by the minute to complaining about poor treatment and service by United, to United. A user stated that their bags have been missing for days at the time of the tweet (Twitter, 2018). United responded by asking her to send a direct message to them to attempt to resolve the problem. After examples of customer dissatisfaction voiced through social media platforms, Bernoff and Schadler talk about the success of Best Buy, who successfully uses technology to address customer service problems immediately and directly. The example of Best Buy utilizing new technology is used because the technology is used and supported by many employees at different levels of the company. Internet Technology employees, sales associates, and managers all utilize Twelpforce, a system which allows connected employees to view customer issues and complaints through Twitter, and are able to take action immediately (Bernoff & Schadler, 2010).
Bernoff and Schadler also explain the term HEROes, which stands for “highly empowered and resourceful operative” personnel. It describes individuals who use technology to improve their companies. The HERO compact is an agreement between HEROes, the IT departments, and management, to help and support each other with the integration of new technologies (Bernoff & Schadler, 2010).
Empowerment of employees through technology are not only used for customer service, but for training also. Black & Decker began creating videos about sales methods and product reviews, which was found to be helpful in spreading knowledge easily throughout their company (Bernoff & Schadler, 2010). Now Sharpe uses videos submitted by employees, to teach other employees about different strategies and products, without spending time to create in-person courses, and use their time more effectively (Bernoff & Schadler, 2010). Evaluation and Suggestions This article sheds needed light on the positive impacts technology can have on any given company’s work procedures.
I do agree that the ease of making comments about companies through social media platforms can pose as a huge threat to the company’s image. With so many examples of successful business practices using new technologies, such as Twelpforce and Black & Decker’s training videos, I believe more businesses, especially those in the hospitality and transportation industry, need to begin implementing these practices, or at least attempt to create new ones. Although great examples were used to support the importance of using technology, I was under the impression that this article was about how technology is used to empower employees to better service their companies and customers. The Black & Decker example does empower their employees by more training. It seemed that the focus was on the videos being more financially beneficial to the company itself by cutting time and costs used for training seminars, rather than empowering their employees to better service their customers.
For the article itself, I would suggest focusing more on the company relation to the customer, rather than internal relations with leaders and employees. Good management-employee relations are vital for a successful business, but the introduction and examples used for the first half of this article was targeted towards the company-customer relationship. It did return to focus on social relationships with customers, but I would have rather had the entire article strictly about better servicing customers, or how improving internal work ethic and relations with technology directly affect their relations with customers.