As CIO, you can make or break the Student Experience

Ask a University or College student what their number one concern is for a great technology experience, and they’ll probably look at you funny. But fill a lecture room with 300 students and watch wifi access grind to a halt, give students access to a breakout room with uneven wifi coverage, or open a new campus half-way around the world and listen to students’ complaints about intermittent wifi access, and it becomes very clear that fast, consistent wireless internet access is top of mind for students…at least when it doesn’t work.

Of course it goes without saying that for students to have a great Higher Education experience, the product has to be great; i.e., the faculty have to be thought-leaders that deliver engaging lectures, the campus environment, the layout and structure of the buildings and lecture rooms have to be highly functional, and the culture of the institution has to align with the students’ values.

But underlying the bricks and mortar is the dependence of students on technology – to be in the know about the goings on on campus, to be able to pick their courses at the start of the term, check the online ratings of professors, take notes that synch with their phones, do research, look up their marks, collaborate with fellow students, discover which campus events are worth going to. The list goes on.

…underlying the bricks and mortar is the dependence of students on technology

Indeed, in the “old days”, when I did my MBA at least, cell phones weighed about two and a half pounds and computers were “luggable”; not portable. We faxed notes to one another and carried around books that took their toll on our shoulders. When we had to hand in a group paper, we asked the guy who knew how to type, to consolidate the notes and key them into Wordperfect. Then he’d print the report on his dot-matrix printer, run off hard-copies for everyone, and hand the final copy in to the professor the next day.

Fast forward to today, and we no longer think about the technology that touches almost every aspect of our lives; of student life. It’s taken for granted; expected. We no longer breathe air. We prefer wifi and 4G instead.

The ubiquity of mobile, means we’re always on. Service delivery is not only measured by the quality of the solution, and the attitude of the University staff, but by the number of minutes it took to solve the problem. Who can wait days or even hours any more? We live in a just-in-time world.

This puts huge pressure on IT staff, because if you dissect the student journey, right from making the decision about which institution to go to, to applying to a University or College, to getting accepted and choosing a program and courses, to being a student and all that it entails, to graduating, to getting involved in the alumni community, to giving back to the school…each touchpoint has an underlying element of technology. Each point at which the student and institution cross paths is likely layered with some piece of technology – a mobile app, email, a social network, an online community, a legacy system, a piece of data, an interaction with the Student Information System, whatever. There’s no way around it.

Each point at which the student and institution cross paths is likely layered with some piece of technology…

And it’s at any of these touchpoints that the student can either be left with a positive memory of “wow, that just blew me away!” or a negative memory of “what a terrible #fail!”…strong emotions of delight, or frustration and disbelief. So what happens next? Where does the student turn? …time to share that experience with friends and family perhaps? Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat?

You can be pretty sure that if the strong positive or negative emotion was triggered by an event that helped define the student’s opinion of the institution, that she will very likely share a comment or story about the incident on Social Media. And so it goes. If we do something really well, people talk about it. If we do something really poorly, people talk about it. But few talk about the boring stuff in between. No one has time to share a comment about the status quo. And people often think “if no one’s complaining about us, we must be doing an OK job”. If this is what you’re thinking, you’re fooling yourself. Consider that over 50% of angry people never complain about a problem. So what does this imply about those students who simply accept the status quo?

As technology leaders and enablers of the flow of information in our various institutions, CIOs are in the unique position of being able to impact the student experience and raise the bar on what might otherwise be boring, average interactions between the students and the school. Taking this a step further, if 50% of complaints are not being heard, can we afford to be complacent? Sure, we can bury our heads in the sand and say “it’s not my job to worry about non-technical student concerns”. But then we’re supporting the status quo in our Universities; supporting being average in our Colleges, and we’re potentially supporting disruption of our institution. We need to be constantly thinking of innovative ways to create “wow moments” by adding value (technological or informational) at various touchpoints along the student journey.

…CIOs are in the unique position of being able to impact the student experience and raise the bar on what might otherwise be boring, average interactions

Here are 7 tried and tested ways for CIOs to create or facilitate a winning Student Experience:

  1. Get out of your office. Walk the halls. Listen to the conversations students are having. Find out how they really feel about the University systems and applications they use on a daily basis. Ask them. What works? What doesn’t? Listen to conversations staff and faculty are having about students. What are some of their struggles? Take notes. Document the feedback. You may even want to share it openly with the school as your starting point; your baseline from which to move forward.
  2. Spend a half-day at the College Help Desk. Observe how your staff speaks with students, faculty, and staff on the phone, how they interact in person, their body language. Watch the reaction on the faces of the people asking for assistance. Do they look happy after the interaction or did they leave with pursed lips and a feeling of frustration? If faculty and staff leave the service desk frustrated, this will likely trickle down to students. Let’s not forget, students don’t exist in a silo. Their interactions with people outside of the student community impact their overall experience at the institution.
  3. Get on Social Media. Specifically, create a Twitter account. Listen to what students are saying. Open the lines or channels of communication that are used by students. Engage with them. Help them to see your human side. Just because you’re in IT, doesn’t mean that all you think about are bits and bytes…at least one would hope not, especially if you’ve made it to the CIO or IT Director level.
  4. Sit in on a lecture or two. What’s the experience like for students; for the instructor? Is all the classroom technology working the way it should, is the Professor fumbling around to get it all working, or might it help if he had a PhD in engineering? How’s the Professor doing as an instructor? Is she engaging? Is she boring? Is there anything you could help this faculty member with to perhaps make her delivery more interesting? …after all isn’t she in the role of delivering/sharing information with her students? Just as the CIO is in the information enablement and delivery business, are Professors not serving a similar function?
  5. Introduce technologies that are intuitive. When was the last time you read the Facebook user manual (if there is one)? How about Dropbox or Asana or Gmail? These easy-to-use applications are the standard by which all software learning curves are measured. My rule of thumb is, if it takes me more than 10 minutes to get the overall gist of a new technology and its features, it’s going to be an uphill battle for students….a battle I may not be prepared to fight. If they’re not going to adopt it and use it, why even take the risk of investing in it and bringing it into the school? New technology implies change, and no one likes change, no matter how often they’re confronted with it. If you can lower the barriers to adoption, you’re more likely to succeed and have students reap the benefits of its use.
  6. Put together a Student Advisory Committee. Reach out to students who you feel would take an active role in dialoguing with you about technology at the University. Meet with them formally once a term, and as they move through completion of their degrees, bring on newer students to replace those that have graduated. Another less formal way of doing this might be to simply meet with individual students that have taken an interest in technology, on a one-on-one basis through the year just to dialogue about what’s working and what’s not working.
  7. Develop an IT Strategic Plan that is student-centric. As you develop your short and long-term plan, each deliverable should impact the student community in some positive way. Make sure that as you prioritize these deliverables, they are projects that the students, through focus groups, discussions, and/or surveys, have identified as areas that would provide them with high value but that the university is falling short on. Focus in on those with the biggest gaps between what the students want and their level of satisfaction. Try to steer clear of prioritizing projects that have a lesser impact on the student experience.

As CIOs we need to see things from the “inside-out”; through the eyes of the student. We need to understand and make their pain points our priority. I tend to view students through a customer service lens – I see them as our most important customer. We need to give them the highest priority on the service scale. After all they ultimately pay our salaries.

As CIOs we need to see things from the “inside-out”; through the eyes of the student.

As technology leaders in Higher Education, we need to worry less about buying the latest pieces of hardware or upgrading to the latest versions of software and more about “how can I use or introduce technology to reduce friction that the students are experiencing, so that they can focus on achieving their main goal – learning and completing their often rigorous programs” and “how can I find a way to add some technology (at this particular touchpoint) that will improve the student experience and create a feeling of delight; something worth sharing”. Keep in mind the strongest form of marketing comes from within – from our existing customers…our students. They can be our biggest, most vocal advocates, and share positive stories with their friends and family…but only if we deliver great experiences that elicit emotion and make them worth sharing.

Some of us may want to rethink our priorities as CIOs. Do we have our heads buried in the sand, or are we focussed on ways to create great experiences for our students? A consequence of making the wrong choice is that disruption may interrupt our comfortable careers faster than we think.

J.C. Penney just lost a community of 3 Million Facebook fans. Where’s the Strategy in that?

JCP Facebook transitionBowing under pressure, and trying to bring customers back into the stores, CEO Ron Johnson announced last week that J.C. Penney will be bringing back sales. I guess Mr. Johnson’s about-face was as a result of the 50% slide in the stock price over the past year.  Clearly, J.C. Penney has not been listening to its customers.  Yet, the writing was on the wall – Facebook’s wall, that is.  Almost 3 million people are “fans of”/”like”  J.C. Penney’s Facebook Page.  That’s quite the community, wouldn’t you agree?  A following that takes years to build, yet can take less than a day to destroy.   Here’s the message they posted this past Friday on their Facebook wall:

JCPannouncementNew Facebook page everyone!  Time to rebuild.  Time to wipe the slate clean.  New name “jcp”, new gray logo, and best of all… “We did it for you”!   Hmmm, do companies really think their customers are stupid?

As you skim the  posts about the weak brands that J.C. Penney now carries, the bare new look of the stores, and the pricing changes, it’s clear that customers are very disappointed with the Penney transition.  Clearly, the negative comments far outweigh the positive ones.  But every now and then you read a post from a Penney loyalist who’s supportive of the company, advocating on their behalf.   So like most communities, there’s internal discussion going on; people engaging with others from similar “tribes”; agreements, disagreements.   A lot of loyal customers voicing their concerns on the site.  Yet what’s glaringly absent are comments from J.C. Penney itself.   No one from the company is engaging with its followers.  Maybe the brand is listening, but the Facebook fans sure wouldn’t know it.

...the Voice of the Customer

…the Voice of the Customer

One has to wonder if the digital community mirrors the brick and mortar.

Perhaps the new corporate culture, that includes ignoring customers, has trickled down from the top.   At a time when Ron Johnson should be listening to his customers, with the company having lost $4 billion in revenues during his tenure, he may feel he knows better.  After all, few believed that his Apple store concept would make money for the consumer electronics giant. He proved them all wrong.

More likely though, the business probably has so many internal silos that no one realizes the value of the customer data they’ve built up over the years.  They may just think of Facebook as a digital sandbox; a time-waster where people who have nothing better to do post useless comments and try to ruin the reputation of brands.  It’s likely that the J.C. Penney Facebook community isn’t even on any of JCP’s leadership’s radar screens.  At least that’s how it looks from the outside.

More likely though, the business probably has so many internal silos that no one realizes the value of the customer data they’ve built up over the years.

Why change the siteWhat other explanation for shutting down a community with almost 3 million subscribers, and starting fresh?  To re-brand under the new “JCP” acronym?  To rebuild the community under the JCP brand hoping to wipe the slate clean of any negative sentiment?  C’mon…wake up J.C. Penney!  You’re going to piss more people off, and lose a ton of opportunity in the process.

We have to give credit where credit is due, however.  J.C. Penney could have deleted all the negative posts and comments on their original Facebook page.  Instead they chose to ignore customer complaints, they chose not to engage in conversation, and they chose to miss any opportunity to show support for what few advocates they had, and start fresh.

New JCP Facebook page

Link to new JCP Facebook page

Much has been written about the psychology of service recovery; i.e., how resolving a customer complaint is an opportunity to create a stronger relationship with the customer than if the service failure had never occurred in the first place.  Service recovery is an opportunity to build loyalty.  One needs only to Google the term “service recovery paradox” to read the various scholarly articles, white-papers, and blog posts about it.  But customer outreach and engagement needs to be done on a one-on-one basis and it needs to be part of an organization’s overall business strategy.  One might have expected this to be the reason for the new Facebook page, but alas, we are still scratching our heads.

…customer outreach and engagement needs to be done on a one-on-one basis and it needs to be part of an organization’s overall business strategy.

Great customer service is clearly not on JCP’s list of strategic objectives.  Or if it is, some people are pretty good at paying lip-service to the initiative.  And you can be sure that when they considered what the overarching Customer Experience should “look” like, JCP didn’t bother to ask their own customers what was important to them.

Companies pay megabucks to research firms to build consumer panels that they can dip into for opinions on an ongoing basis.  And they pay big bucks to collect customer feedback, typically through surveys pushed out after a transaction is completed with the brand,   All of this is part of a “Voice of the Customer” (VoC) program.  You can be sure that J.C. Penney has this type of program in place.  All big retailers do.

You think the VoC team even knows that a Social Media community exists?  If they do, do you think they’ve even put two-and-two together, and have considered pulling in feedback from the Facebook community?  Social Communities and Social Media Customer Care provide non-invasive, truly unbiased environments for collecting Voice of the Customer feedback.  The sad part is, in many large companies, people don’t communicate very well across departments – the VoC team probably doesn’t talk to the Social Media team and vice-versa.

You think the VoC team even knows that a Social Media community exists?

And so we can only shake our heads in disbelief, as we watch a powerful brand, with a deep-rooted American heritage,  make a decision that makes no strategic business sense whatsoever and throw the baby out with the bath water.

Has your CEO heard the news? Big Companies are Abandoning Social Customer Service!

Great media headlines have a knack for pushing the right emotional buttons and leaving people with strong negative or positive feelings, especially when they haven’t read the rest of the article. And in today’s world of 140 characters and digital media inundation, many of us, including me (I must confess, at times) are guilty of only reading the top line. So it is with this headline that hit the digital press Friday morning: “These Big Companies Are Abandoning Twitter And Facebook For Customer Service“. Wow, sounds pretty dramatic! Oh, and to add to the drama, the featured image in the post is a picture of Joaquin Phoenix in “Gladiator” garb, giving the thumbs down.

So now imagine your CEO, SVP Marketing, SVP Store Operations, etc., getting this headline forwarded in an email from a personal friend or relative over the weekend, or seeing the image below when they click on the link.

ThumbsdownDo you see what they see? A headline and a metaphor of themselves, a leader, saying “not a chance”. The rest is a blur. That’s the message that will register with them. That’s the memory they’ll be left with. And it’s a shame, but that’s the reality for too many busy executives. What may seem important for someone who works in Social Media, or Digital Media, or Customer Support, may be but a blip on a CEO’s radar screen. And they’re often looking for cracks in the wall to discount all of these peripheral requests for extra funding.

So, before they or someone else at the Senior Executive level, ridicule Social Customer Service in the days and possibly weeks ahead, because of this article and any subsequent noise it stirs, let’s spend a bit of time with the details.

Two companies are mentioned in the post. That’s it.  Charter Communications, and Wegmans.  Temkin 2012 Customer Service Ratings Charter is the fourth largest cable provider in the US with 5.2 million customers across 25 states. Wegmans is a supermarket chain in the northeast US with 81 stores. And they’re both big companies. But here’s the difference. Charter sucks at customer service. In fact, according to Bruce Temkin, Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a highly respected research and consulting firm, in the 2012 Customer Service Ratings study completed by his firm (which covered 174 companies from 18 industries and polled 10,000 US customers), Charter ranked at the very bottom in terms of Customer Service (I’ve added a red box to highlight Charter’s position, in the table on the left). Isn’t cutting out Social Customer Service in line with them being Customer Service bottom feeders? Need we say more?

Charter ranked at the very bottom [of the 2012 Temkin Customer Service Ratings] in terms of Customer Service

Now Wegmans is at the other end of the spectrum for service and Customer Experience. First off, Wegmans just ranked number 5, last week, on the Fortune list of best companies to work for. And research shows that happy employees make happy customers. Fortune best companies to work forMichael Hess of CBS Moneywatch, in an article published in late 2011, asks the question: Could this [Wegmans] be the best company in the world?  As it happens, it was only a single one of their 81 stores (though the largest in New England) that shuttered its use of Social Media for Customer Service. Does anyone really care? Does it really matter to a single store of a brand that is so customer-focused? Come on!

Wegmans just ranked number 5, last week, on the Fortune list of best companies to work for.

So, “Big Companies abandoning Social Customer Service”? I think not.

Given this background information, would you not agree that the premise of the Business Insider article is suspect?  But it’s clear there’s still fear out there about using Social Media. And the author is playing to the fear of Senior Executives.  So given that many CEOs and their leadership team may be fearful of this new medium, because they don’t quite understand it, how might we help reduce the risk for them? Why should they care about Social Customer Service? Perhaps if we try to answer this from a Senior Executive’s point of view. What’s in it for them? What’s in it for the business?

…the author is playing to the fear of Senior Executives

  1. Social Customer Service helps drive greater revenues/more profitability – Social Customer Service is all about listening and responding to Customers through the Social Channel. It’s about managing customer service issues through Social Media. Most organizations recognize that price-competition isn’t a long term strategy. It’s great if you want to sell commodities, but this is not going to make the business profitable. In order to differentiate your products and services from your competitors, you need to provide great experiences for the people who buy from you, so that they spread the news; so that they tell their friends. Average experiences are boring; they’re not an option. Your customers view your company as a single brand; not a bunch of individual channels. But because your customers can choose to engage with you across the channel of their choice – in-store, Call Centre, web, mobile, Social – the experiences that they have with you need to be consistent. Social Media is simply another channel. Trouble is, you don’t control it. It’s just there. Ignore it at your peril; especially if you’re a large, well known brand. Embrace it. Don’t fear it. Using Twitter and Facebook for Customer Service provides an opportunity for the brand to create unique experiences that your customers will want to tell their friends and family about, and it can serve as an amplifier for word of mouth advocates for your brand. Word of mouth advocacy builds loyalty, engages more customers, keeps them longer, and enables you to charge a premium for your products and services. In short, it helps your business drive greater revenues and profits. As simple as this sounds it’s the essence of a Customer Experience Strategy, that smart companies are realizing they need to develop and execute in order to survive in today’s commoditized world.
  2. Social Customer Service helps manage the brand’s reputation – Social Customer Service is about responding quickly to negative feedback that has the potential to grow exponentially and “go viral”. It requires active listening skills, the ability to empathize, and the ability to provide thoughtful responses very succinctly – often with 140 character limitations. Depending on the volume of service issues you’re responding to, it might also require routing of the issue to various people in different departments within the organization. It’s also about building community and creating advocates that will come to your defense if people talk negatively about your brand on Social Media. Consider these examples of real life events that have actually happened in the past year:
    1) You’re in the travel business, and a couple who are to be married Sister's original postbook a honeymoon travel package with you, but two days before the wedding, the husband gets killed in a freak accident. A customer service agent follows policy and refuses to refund the bride-to-be for the couple’s travel fees, so her sister goes on the company’s Facebook page, that has over 62,000 fans, and seeds an outpouring of negative comments towards the company.
    2) You’re a very respected brand in the high-end food service business and someone notices a mouse scurrying across the floor of one of your stores. They tweet a warning out to their 14,000 followers. The story goes viral and hits the mainstream news media.
    3) You’re a major financial institution and your ATMs and access to personal account information go down for 2 days nation-wide because of an Information Systems glitch. Irate customers take to Twitter and Facebook to voice their anger.
  3. Social Customer Service is an Insurance Policy for protecting your brand’s reputation. In all three cases above, smart leadership, fast action, and the right messaging with customers helped circumvent brand reputation damage. Social Media gives a voice to your customers that until now was one-to-one with the brand – think about a phone call with a Call Centre Representative, an email to Customer Service, a problem in a store or a branch.  These are typically private conversations between a customer and an individual in the company.  However, with Social Media, a single customer’s voice can now grow to reach thousands of people within a day; hundreds of thousands within a few days. And the Social channel is not like a valve that Marketing or Customer Service can simply shut off. You can choose to ignore the Social noise about your brand, and risk tarnishing your reputation, or take the route of engaging with the noise-makers, giving your brand the opportunity to take back some control.

What else might be important to your Senior Leadership team in terms of positioning the virtues of using Social Media for Customer Service?  What do you suppose the author of the Business Insider article was hoping to gain from positioning his post the way he did?  What does your own company think of Social Customer Service?  Do your Executives get it?

When does Social Media carry more clout than your Voice of the Customer program?

Drug store chain with over 1,100 stores


Last week, Shoppers Drug Mart, the leader in Canada’s retail drug store marketplace, saw the writing on the wall…its Facebook wall, that is.  No sooner had Halloween ended than the drug store chain began streaming Christmas songs over its in-store airwaves. By the evening of November 1st, the complaints started rolling in as negative comments on Shoppers’ Facebook wall.  One by one, customers shared their written feelings through Facebook, and by 3pm on November 2nd, Shoppers responded with a post of its own saying that they would suspend all Christmas music until further notice.

With over 7,500 likes, as of this writing, and over 5,800 comments, this music issue clearly struck a few bad chords, to say the least.  It also hit the mainstream media – CTV, the Globe & Mail, the Toronto Star, and others.

You have to wonder though, if Shoppers had taken phone calls from discontented customers about the music, or if people had indicated their concerns through the existing web and IVR-based Voice of the Customer (VoC) survey, would Shoppers have flinched?  Hard to tell.  Perhaps if there had been enough noise through these alternate channels, perhaps if some of the executives had listened to actual customer phone calls, or read written comments from the web survey, there might have been a response to the negative customer sentiment.

Having worked on VoC programs for about 8 years, what I’ve found is that unless a company’s culture is such that they have a sincere commitment and belief in the importance of the customer experience, the feedback they collect from customers tends to lose its priority behind operational or financial data.  Too many companies simply pay lip service to creating wow moments for their customers, or superficially try to improve their NPS (Net Promoter Score) because it’s part of employee job descriptions or compensation plans, or they want to move up from 4th place in the JD Power award for best in customer service.  VoC becomes another program, added to the stack of programs that people are working on.  And employees sense that VoC is complex because it relies on many thousands, perhaps millions of bits of information about customer perceptions.  When you look back at why so many VoC programs fail, some or all of these points were likely contributing factors.

Let me be clear.  I’m not insinuating that Shoppers Drug Mart is having problems with its VoC program or has failed in any way.  I’m simply using this incident as an example of how customer feedback through Social Media (through a Facebook page that has only been up for about a year) may have a stronger impact on change through customer voice, than a long-running VoC program.

Now it may very well be that at Shoppers, Social Media customer feedback is part of their VoC program for listening and responding to customers.  They also have a Twitter account @ShopprsDrugMart, that they use to field customer service issues across all of their stores, in addition to pushing out marketing messages.  I’d venture to guess that Marketing and/or Public Relations manages Social Media, and the Voice of the Customer program is managed through Customer Service or Operations.  Social Media is still finding its place within most organizations, and typically falls under the umbrella of the Marketing Department.  But the discussion of who should own it is great fodder for another blog post – many posts have already been written discussing the best place for Social Media to reside.

…what Social Media tends to do, if done right, is build humanity into a digital customer interaction

The point is, Social Media is sexy for most companies, and perhaps Marketing has made it so.  Social Media shifts control into the hands of our customers and prospective customers, and that creates fear in the minds of many corporate executives.  It also creates a permanent written record for all the world to see.  (Ooops, better get Legal looped in on this one.)  Finally though (of course there are many more benefits to Social Media, but being more intangible and harder to quantify means that the C-Suite would typically ignore these) what Social Media tends to do, if done right, is build humanity into a digital customer interaction.   Just look at the examples below, taken from Shoppers’ Facebook wall.

Three different people – John, Fiona, Barbara – real customers with pictures of their faces, sharing their emotions about the timing of the Christmas songs, and each is engaging other Shoppers’ customers who are providing their feedback, some for; some against the music.  These are not rows in a spreadsheet with a unique identifier; they are not written verbatims in a database; they don’t represent bars on a frequency-distribution chart.

for those of us in the Voice of the Customer world, not much has changed in the past 10 years

Let’s face it, for those of us in the Voice of the Customer world (we tend to work in silos don’t we?), not much has changed in the past 10 years.  The amount of customer feedback has increased, we have text analytic tools now to help us be more efficient at making sense of unstructured customer comments, but at the end of the day, the output is pretty much the same – spreadsheets, charts, graphs, scorecards, dynamic visualizations.  Nothing too sexy or exciting to look at that relate back to humans.  Nothing emotional to hook us in.  And as for IVR-captured responses, while we can hear the emotion of the respondents from the calls, these snippets of dialogue have to be listened to sequentially.  It’s a time-consuming process.  Generally speaking, it’s pretty boring output.

If I wanted to make a point to the executives in my company; if I wanted to get their consensus for changing a customer policy, I know which source of customer feedback I’d turn to.

The sad part is, most of us are sitting on reams of rich data about customer sentiment through our VoC programs.  Yet, decisions based on information from all of this data, that is actionable, may take weeks or months to implement.  We’re reading about and seeing decisions based on relatively fewer Social Media-based customer comments often taking less than a day to turn around.

I started by asking the question: “When does Social Media carry more clout than your Voice of the Customer program?”  Isn’t it time we incorporated Social feedback into our VoC programs?  The progressive VoC vendors have incorporated Social into their platforms.  But few companies seem to have taken them up on their offer.  Is it because the control of Social Media is siloed from that of Voice of the Customer?  Is it because Social Customer Service is so new that companies don’t know where it should be slotted?  Voice of the Customer programs are at a turning point.  It’s up to those of us who are practitioners in this space, to make sure that our VoC programs incorporate key Social channels that provide us with rich, humanized insights that support quick responses to our customers.