Thursday, February 19th, 2015 | 10 min read
Long wait times, dropped calls, restating a single problem dozens of times – one could dedicate a novella to the pain points associated with customer service. To customers, these pain points are, well, painful. To companies, they’re a necessary part of doing business.
But the business-as-usual way of providing customer service is harming your company’s bottom line.
According to a 2013 study by Accenture, 66% of respondents said they’ve switched service providers due to poor customer service. Your unhappy customers won’t just leave you for a competing brand, they’ll also tarnish your reputation — 95% of these dissatisfied customers tell others about their bad experiences. And almost half will share these experiences on social media.
Every 30-minutes spent on hold and every “Let me transfer you to another department” is a potential angry tweet to thousands of followers, disgruntled Facebook comment or canceled contract.
What should you do? Brands that provide quality customer service through social media are poised to foster customer loyalty, boost customer happiness and steer the conversations taking place about them online in a positive direction.
Here are 4 steps to getting started with social customer care:
Social media used to be a channel of last resorts – when people were so fed up that they would turn to the web to vent. Now, social is one of the first touchpoints. Customers come to your brand’s social media channels before they pick up the phone. This presents brands with the opportunity to resolve issues before they escalate. But first, you have to be aware of these conversations.
Monitoring dashboards are the most foundational requirement for brands managing multiple accounts. These dashboards aggregate your brand mentions across multiple social channels, enabling a macro-level view of all your inbound messages.
If someone has a customer service question, but they’re mentioning a different Twitter handle, social monitoring makes your customer service team aware of the inquiry. No tweet is left behind.
To go beyond conversations targeted “@” your brand – and proactively look at all conversations happening about your brand – employ social listening. Listening is beneficial for any global brand and can be particularly critical in highly-sensitive industries like healthcare, financial services, or manufacturing. Social listening pulls in all online mentions of your brand, competitors, products, and other key business topics.
This comprehensive level of brand awareness is important because if there’s a product failure, many of the critical conversations won’t directly mention your brand.
Social listening (if integrated with the rest of your social media management platform) can also be set up to automatically alert your team if certain keywords or volume thresholds are met. You can create a rule in your platform to notify your PR team every time the volume of mentions exceeds 100,000, for example. This way, the right experts inside your organization are made aware of negative conversation trends before they turn into full-blown crises.
It’s imperative that your community management team – or really any team touching customers online in a public way – receive consistent training on how to communicate on behalf of your brand.
So, ask yourself:
You should have a resounding “YES” across the board. If not, your social customer care program could use some reevaluation.
One of the biggest complaints about customer service is having to repeat the same information to different people. Not only does it result in a disjointed experience for the customer, but it’s also inefficient for your internal team. To streamline communication, you need the following platform capabilities:
Macros: This feature allows you take multiple actions on a single message. You can, for example, program macros to automatically tag messages and route them to the appropriate queues simultaneously.
Customizable approval paths: Depending on the industry, company, and sensitivity of the message, dozens of teams might be needed for message approval. Your social media platform should have approval paths that can be customized (and scaled) to fit your company’s specific needs.
Message history: Message history allows you to be aware of past conversations an individual has had with your brand on social media. This results in a more personalized interaction.
Smart identification: In addition to conversation history, you’ll also want to create profile descriptions of your social audience to provide additional context. Profile tags can be customized to reflect what you need to know about your community – e.g. industry, interests, age group, location, annual spending, products mentioned, relationship with the brand, and so on.
CRM integration: The people interacting with your brand on social media are often the same ones interacting with your brand in real life. Uniting your social media platform with your traditional CRM system allows you to see that “John Doe” isn’t just someone posting on your Facebook page… he’s also a loyal customer.
Case management: Another feature you should consider is case management, which organizes multiple messages into a “case” with its own unique ID, assignee, and subscribers for easy collaboration. Case management can also draw out learning opportunities, such as how long it takes to resolve an issue and sentiment before and after a service experience.
Pre-approved content: Do you often share content across multiple teams and regions? Then you need a centralized library of pre-approved assets. Rather than creating new items from scratch – and going through the approval process – you can simply pick from the library, customize, and go.
Integration with your paid social media:
The worst thing you can do when a customer complains is to serve them with a promoted post. Integration across paid, earned, and owned social media in one platform allows you to create automatic “rules” that prevent users who have raised complaints from being targeted with ads.
Like all initiatives, the success of your social customer care program depends heavily on your ability to sustain and improve it. Here’s how you can optimize:
SLA reporting dashboard: How many customer care cases are being resolved? How long does it take for your team to reply? Are your reply rates improving over time? You need SLA dashboards to see your progress in resolving customer problems/inquiries.
Audit trail: An audit trail is necessary for a couple reasons. It allows you to see which agents replied to what, and how they’re replying, which you can use to uncover learning opportunities. Audit trails also provide documentation of your social interactions. Even if a message gets deleted on the native channel, you still have a record of the conversation. This is vital when complications arise.
Tagging: Inbound tagging enables you to see what your community needs most. If the majority of your incoming messages are related to customer service issues, this can help you identify gaps in resources. In addition to inbound tagging, you should also be tagging your outbound messages. This allows you to see what types of content resonates with your audience. You can know for sure if they really prefer videos over the written word, if they like webinars or in-person events, and so on.
As you build and optimize your social customer service strategy keep in mind that customer care is not the responsibility of just one or two departments. The key to great social customer care is cross-departmental collaboration.
Marketing and customer service aren’t the only departments that should be involved – this is an enterprise-wide initiative.
After all, every team at your organization is thinking about ways to make or save revenue, which means every department is responsible for gaining and retaining the customers that will generate that revenue. Which really means that every department is responsible for creating great customer experiences.
It’s the key to thriving as a corporation.
About the Author: Chelsea Marti is a strategic marketer with 10 years of experience in B2B and B2C industries. Prior to joining Sprinklr, Chelsea was ADP’s first social media marketing director and formerly managed social media and online communications for Quicken and TurboTax, flagship brands of Intuit’s Consumer Business Division. A frequent speaker and panelist Chelsea has presented at events such as Web 2.0, SXSW, the Digital Analytics Association, and the Insider’s Social Media Summit.