• What Is a Customer Cloud?
    Cloud Computing

    What Is a Customer Cloud?

    The complexities of staffing multiple online customer service channels simultaneously is a growing headache in online customer service. Each customer communication channel (live support chat, AIM, MSN, Yahoo!, Google Talk, ICQ, SMS chat, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) requires the creation of a new account as well as a plan for how to staff that account within the greater service. The headache originates from the coordination of these channels solely using a staffing strategy. That is, devote a portion of a customer service representative’s time to coordination overhead. A better strategy is to transfer responsibility for logistics from representative to software – a customer cloud. However, before a customer cloud can be fully defined, it is worth a more detailed examination of why the decision to coordinate online customer service channels primarily through a staffing strategy can cause such a headache.

    There are a number of possible staffing strategies to harness a portion of a representative’s time to deal with logistics. One extreme is to assign customer service representatives by channel. Another extreme is to assign all representatives to every channel simultaneously. However, in practice, the answer usually lies somewhere between these extremes to achieve a measure of efficiency while accommodating technological limits. Chances are that no one channel, except maybe live support chat, generates enough traffic to justify dedicated staffing. Monitoring many channels simultaneously improves efficiency. But some technologies, like instant messaging, only allow singular logons. Assigning multiple simultaneous representatives for these technologies isn’t a viable option. Because the number of online customer service channels will only increase, what is needed is a way to tie channels together in a flexible, extensible way to achieve efficiency while overcoming technological limitations. Such a solution can be thought of as a customer cloud. A customer cloud combines channels into a centralized service and …