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Is contact over the phone still an important, high-touch way to interact with customers, especially when something has gone wrong in the customer's experience?
Yes. Customers are increasingly demanding or picky about their products. Ten or 20 years ago, many of the products that are on the market today had very simple service and support modalities -- customers bought them and assumed that they were going to take the responsibility for making them successful. Today's buyers, who are further down the chronology of the lifecycle -- they might be early majority or late majority, probably late majority in a lot of cases -- are more risk-averse and want more hand-holding so the definition of "product" in their minds is no longer the thing that they bought but the bigger solution that comes with products and services.
Vendors are forced to step up and enhance their services offering -- not services in the sense of technical problem solving, but in the broader sense of a vendor helping customers integrate a solution in their lives in a holistic way. This could also result in an initiative by the vendor to reach out to the customer. For example, a customer tweets something about having trouble with a product. If they have appropriately designed their tweet to contain the hashtags #product or #brand, there's a good chance there's someone on the other end filtering that stream and recognizing that the customer needs help. They might respond directly to the tweet while the customer is still in Twitter, or they might look up the customer's phone number and call them.