Yesterday my five year old daughter found my old printed dictionary and thesaurus and was using them as “mountains” when playing with her plastic toy dinosaurs.  Forgot I owned them – the dictionary and thesaurus that is, not the toy dinosaurs.  This got me thinking, how often do we actually reach for a real reference manual, either printed or online, anymore when we can just type our question into Google or post it online for our social networks to answer?

Like my old dictionary, chances are we forget that more traditional sources for solving support issues even exist.  We want instant answers and are increasingly using mobile devices - smartphones and tablets - to search for and find the vital business information we need.   Should something go wrong with our business applications we expect – and truly need – instant, on demand support.  There’s certainly no time to consult printed or online support manuals.  Likewise, there’s no time to wait on a customer support call-back or an email response to a trouble ticket.  Our expectations of customer support have clearly evolved.

So has customer support evolved to meet these new expectations?  I think yes and no.
Most companies have developed searchable Knowledge Management databases and self-help tools that allow end-users to quickly find answers and often resolve their own problems.  But beyond that we’re still struggling to match the right person with the right answers to the customer at the exact moment they need help.  Traditional support organizations are also just learning to provide answers to customers where they “live,” such as online forums or Twitter.  A new age of real-time, collaborative support is upon us and we’re all challenged to develop new support models and technologies to keep up.  And my daughter gets to keep the dictionary for her toy dinosaurs.