Connectedness and Customer Service

Earlier this month I took Gallup’s StrengthFinder 2.0 online assessment.  Connectedness emerged as one of my top five strengths.  Connectedness is the ability to see how people, things and ideas are linked to something larger.  Connectedness implies certain responsibilities – if we are all part of a larger picture, then we must not harm others because we will be harming ourselves.

During the same week of learning this strength about myself, I discovered this strength in a total stranger.  She works as a shift supervisor at Starbucks in Austin, Texas (where Dachis Group headquarters is based).  Chances were greater that we would meet in-person during one of my 4pm coffee runs, but we met via Facebook first.

The notification arrived before I even realized my wallet was missing.  I had made a Starbucks run with a colleague earlier that afternoon and in the chaos of sugar, cream and conversation, I left my wallet at the store.  My wallet did not include any identification with a telephone number.  The Starbucks shift supervisor noticing the credit cards and cash (I had just recently visited the ATM), decided to immediately look me up and contact me via Facebook.  When I met her at the counter to retrieve my wallet she explained how she too had recently experienced the nightmare of losing her wallet.  We connected.

I doubt that Starbucks trains employees to service in-store customers this way on Facebook, but it is evident that making a commitment to increase points of connections with customers is a big part of the company’s culture.  Facebook enabled the shift supervisor to contact me when she had no other means than the mailing address on my license.  The shift supervisor could have kept the wallet until I connected the dots about what happened (which I could have, as it is a strength) and returned to the store.  Of course, that would most likely be proceeded by the anxious discovery that the wallet was missing at the moment I needed it and a frantic retracing of steps in my head of where I could I have left it.  The shift supervisor saved me this emotional energy by making the extra effort to search for me on Facebook and send me a message immediately.

So what does this really have to do with customer service?  It has everything to do with me – the customer.  I feel more connected to that particular Starbucks location and safe shopping there.  Although Starbucks coffee is available at the hotel where I typically stay in Austin, I made a mental note of wanting to give the shift supervisor at the other location where I left my wallet my business even if it means walking an extra street block. Someone there cared about me and I will reciprocate the service.

While this story has nothing to do with innovative social CRM strategy, it has everything to do with how a social savvy shift supervisor connected the dots and leveraged Facebook to send a high impact signal to a customer.  Of course, what the shift supervisor did was a no-brainer to her.  While social technology can automate and innovate many processes, I still believe it is the human behind the technology that makes best-in-class customer service. To that end, connectedness is a quality I would recommend Starbucks preserving and nurturing at the front lines.

What are your thoughts? Do you believe connectedness is an important quality for customer service?

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2 thoughts on “Connectedness and Customer Service

  1. One could argue the other way – in this specific scenario, here social network savvy resulted in saving you some worry and getting your wallet back in an efficient manner. Alternately, others might consider it inappropriate that an employee from a coffeeshop is using the information found in your wallet to “FB stalk” you and depending on your privacy controls, discover personal information about you. What if that employee used your wallet to look you up on Facebook, discovered your FourSquare/Twitter account, and intercepted you on a Friday night while you were out at dinner with friends?

    The point is while I believe connectedness is key in almost all verticals and contexts, there will be a point where that power is misused, crosses the perhaps-not-yet-defined boundaries of professional/personal appropriateness. That said, everyone has a personal responsibility to understand the power of the tools they use (like FourSquare), and to protect themselves from self-inflicted information diarrhea.

    Bah, humbug.

    p.s. I’m glad you got your wallet back! I half expected to see you at TEDxBoston yesterday 😦

    • Henry – great point. There are good and bad uses of technology. I wanted to tell this story of how Facebook was leveraged in a good way. Of course, I do fear the abuses you describe which is why I’m often “off the grid” on FourSquare. If I had been in Boston yesterday, I would have loved to have heard/seen Static Noyze at TEDxBoston. I’ll have to search for the video.

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