I was reading the following post a moment ago – Avaya Unveils Customer Engagement Innovations. What struck me as I read the first paragraph is how pervasive numbers have become. We are seemingly ruled by numbers, percentages and surveys.

Numbers are important. But often the very numbers we cite, seek out, almost come to revere, are compromised and manipulated at the outset. We use them to suit our needs. We search for the numbers we want. Not just any numbers, but the numbers that feel ‘about right’. The numbers that will help us tell our story. The numbers that will wow and make the audience gasp. The numbers that are supposedly memorable, meaningful, unforgettable. The numbers that resonate. The numbers that will make everything right. The numbers that are irrefutable. The numbers that become the truth. The numbers that in time may pass into corporate mythology. Who cares if the numbers are based on a sample size of 73.

But do we need surveys and numbers to tell us that people move between different devices, that customers are less likely to engage with a company because of a bad mobile experience, that more people will recommend a company if you respond to their Tweet? Do we need percentages to tell us that the majority of companies don’t respond to their customers’ tweets within 5, 30, 45 or 60 minutes. What would we do with this information anyway? Would we have the power to change things, so that we could respond to customers on Twitter within 20 minutes? Would we lose hope that this could never be the case, would forever just be an aspirational goal, alongside 2011’s strategy paper to transform customer service into another giffgaff or KLM wannabe…

But in this almost reverential act of trusting in numbers, any numbers, have we forgotten something more important? Have we forgotten how to actually trust ourselves and each other?  We defer to surveys and reports uncovered from a seven minute search on Google, when a quick three minute conversation with your frontline social customer care agents will tell you what needs fixing.

While these magical numbers may help you in the short term to prove ROI and the business case for setting up your social customer care team, it is culture and mindset, trustfulness and authenticity, empathy and humanity, that will win your customers over the long term. It is your agents on the frontline who will keep your trustfulness in tact. The problem is that companies and customer experience is not designed with frontline agents and trustfulness in mind.