Swedish Startup Space

Is customer support dying out?

Written by on March 27, 2013

Just a couple of years ago you could call any single company and talk to a real person. This is still the case for many companies, specially the bigger and more traditional ones. But as our own personal way of communication, such as talking to friends and family, is changing, why shouldn’t your communication towards your clients follow the same line?

This is what most of all startups are doing, they are cutting off on everything which isn’t truly necessary, and creating new ways of replacing the old things with new awesome, cost-effective and modern alternatives. I would say traditional customer support is today replaced by community management, a role very well known within startups but not so common in regular companies here in Sweden yet. I however believe this is an emerging and fast growing profession, which will very soon be a given role at any company. It’s not only Startups and online business’ having an online community, so do every single brand and product nowadays, especially given the growth of online appearance by branded Facebook pages and corporate Twitter-, Instagram- and Pinterest accounts, not to mention the increased importance of mail support rather than phone support.

So, who am I? I’m Babba Canales, co-founder of Bonocle.com and Community Manager of Uber Stockholm. In this series of posts I will post about community management and share my own leanings and thoughts of a successful community. Being a community manager is the best thing I’ve ever done, let’s highlight this awesome role and learn more about community management together.

  • Looking forward to following this series Babba.

    I think the human and personal way of communicating towards the people who use your product (btw, I don’t like when people are called “users”) will stay around, but of course as you write using more efficient channels than the classic phone.

    Some more of my views here: http://blog.podio.com/2012/05/23/how-we-do-user-service-at-podio-and-were-hiring/

    • And I just realized that I use the word “users” in that blog post… facepalm.

    • Amazing, thanks. I will definitely read your article, I think we all have a lot to learn form each other. Looking forward getting your feedback and thoughts :).

    • Thanks for sharing Gustav – great article!

  • Alena Rybik

    Thank you for the post Babba, but customer support is never going to be replaced by community management, although a successful community can reduce customer support costs big time. There’s still a great deal of ambiguity when it comes to what a community manager does, also among hiring companies. If a company answers customers’ queries and collects feedback on social media channels, it is social media customer support/management. Community management is all about getting your customers to talk to each other and building relationships.

    • Hi Alena, I’ve completely missed your comment here. So sorry..!

      I believe you build a community by all your activities including Email, even if it’s not social in that sense. I’ve seen customers tweeting out my responses and sometimes even sharing screen shoots of it with their friends praising Uber and I ‘ve even met people telling me they discovered Uber by a friend who was so impressed about the customer support he had got. I strongly believe in a complete merge of traditional costumer support with modern community management and I therefore think costumer support and community management won’t necessarily be seen as two different things in the future.

      I agree on the fact community management is about getting your costumers to talk to each other and building relationships, but I would also like to add engagement in general. Community management for me is about getting people excited and engaged about your product and the rest will follow :).

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