Santa was very good to me this year – at the top of my stocking was a copy of David Meerman Scott’s Real-Time Marketing & PR.

I read it with an increasing sense of excitement. David makes some extremely timely points for not only the business world and the marketing industry at large but also for the customer satisfaction space. One of the first points he makes in the book is:

“Awareness of information as it happens, in real time, can give you an enormous competitive advantage.” David Meerman Scott

Nowhere is this more relevant than in customer servicing. (As the world-famous United Breaks Guitars case study amply demonstrates!) If United had had a proactive customer servicing process in place, they could have uncovered and fixed Dave’s issue before it went anywhere near the social web. But so many organisations still try to “reduce customer complaints” – what if they actively encouraged all feedback instead? How much better would they be able to operate and how much valuable real time information about their markets and their customers would they gather?

Businesses are so used to getting customer feedback on their own terms. They have, up until now, dicated when and how customer feedback happens. It means that the customer servicing industry is struggling with very retrograde mindsets and backward-looking tools. As David points out in Real Time Marketing & PR, none of the hotels you stay at ever go out of their way to understand how your experience was, in real time. The hotels have a process they introduced in the eighties when Tom Peters told them they needed to understand more about customers, and they are still clinging on to that modus operandi.

Clearly this goes much further than marketing. This is this essential reading for customer experience and Voice of the Customer programmes. We are also very excited because it supports the growing argument for simpler, newer ‘real time’ feedback tools such as Customer Thermometer. It’s a completely new way of monitoring satisfaction and getting feedback (in a way that doesn’t involve surveys and that doesn’t overburden the customer.) We like to say, it’s the feedback tool your customers would choose.

We think about the process of soliciting customer feedback very much in the same way that David thinks about news publication. In Real-Time Marketing & PR he talks about the “old” news organisations operating in old-fashioned news publication cycles and therefore losing out to the real-time news outlets and websites.

We feel that the customer services industry currently operates in exactly the same way. Most businesses still “schedule” an annual customer satisfaction review. It’s great that in September this year my supplier is planning on sending me a survey to see how I am – but what if I am unhappy right now? What if I don’t have time to fill in the survey. Isn’t this a really lazy way of doing it? As the customer, I have to do all the work to improve my supplier’s business? Crazy!

We think we have an answer though. And it chimes in with all the trends David identifies. Customer Thermometer is completely different. It’s a 1-click feedback system. The customer hits one single feedback button and gets on with their day. The business that sent it gets instantly alerted and can make a real time judgement on what to do about it. The onus is on the supplier to follow up and fix problems in real time – not on the customer to do all the legwork.

The world is going real-time but that doesn’t mean it has to get more complicated. Get human again with Customer Thermometer.