Our Social Times ran the first Social Customer Service Summit in London yesterday, featuring brand case studies from eBay, Spotify, Microsoft, Barclaycard, Iberia/IAG Group and Citibank. Here’s what happened…

Morning Panel - hosted by Luke Brynley-Jones of Our Social Times

Social Customer Service Summit 2014 kicked off with author and consultant, Martin Hill-Wilson (Brainfood Consulting) speaking on Best Practice in Social Customer Service. He highlighted that, in spite of the multitude of service channels available, there are basically 3 types: text, voice and video and he reminded our audience of around 100 brands that 70% of social customer service queries are the result of a failure of other channels. The solution? “Consistency across channels and across departments”.

While many dwell on the risks of social media, Martin also promoted the upside. #SocialCS is an opportunity to delight customers and allow them to ‘amplify’ your excellence. He urged us to “harvest the wow!’.

Next up were Miguel Henales (e-business Director) and Sara Losa (International Marketing Manager) from Iberia/IAG, the once-troubled, now reborn airline, which is now enjoying great success on social media. They showed us their “Social Flight” marketing campaign, which harvested the wow generated by flying their top social media fans to New York – complete with personalised in-flight magazines (and an in-flight marriage proposal!).

They also gave us ‘9 Key Elements’ for successful social customer service, which is a must-read guide for any large organisation – see their presentation above – and advised everyone to spend time experimenting. Fascinatingly, when asked how they demonstrated ROI, they said they didn’t. Their activities are seen as inherently valuable for brand and reputation.

Delfin Vassalo, Social Media Operations Manager for Europe at Microsoft (formerly at Nokia), then gave us a master-class on How to Create an International Social Customer Service Strategy. His bottom line? “To make our customers happy wherever they are”. He also stressed the huge value and importance of local language Community Managers. Nokia has 72 Facebook accounts, 27 Twitter accounts and 42 languages driven by a team of global Community Managers, but also works on Sina Weibo, VKontakt and many other regional social networks.

Which Community Managers are the most passionate? Latin ones, according to Delfin. “They are naturally more attuned to social media”. Now, I’m not sure about the legalities of positive discrimination in recruitment, but that’s worth noting.

Our third session featured Maria McCann (formerly of ASOS and Aurora Fashion) on Using Social Data & Gaming Mechanics to Improve Customer Service. Maria encouraged around 30% of the room to confess to regular gaming on their phone or tablet, then explained how, by “replacing journey mapping with goal enablement” and then, potentially, adding an element of gamification – e.g. awarding points, status or recognition, for achieving certain goals, customer service could be improved.

Maria quoted an Economist report that stated that 55% of organisations are in such competitive markets that they expect to compete “primarily on social”. That’s pretty frightening, so any differentiators – such as using gaming mechanics and social data analysis – should be warmly embraced.

Next up was Richard Atkinson from Barclaycard, engaged in a ‘fireside chat’ with Joshua March from Conversocial. Key insights included the fact that Barclaycard sat down with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) prior to launching their social customer service – a smart move if you want to stay ahead of the regulators. He explained how they follow a ‘human2human’ approach regardless of the channel, how their primary metric is ‘case resolution’ (which happens within 1 hour, on average) and how every single senior executive has a social dashboard in their office – so they can monitor the brand in real-time.

I then hosted a discussion on How to Integrate Social Media into the Contact Centre with Ronan Gillen (Community and Social Customer Service Manager, eBay), Rodney Sheriff (Director of Customer Communications, TruPhone), who has developed an end-to-end service solution using Radian6 and Salesforce, Martin Hill-Wilson who suggested “measuring conversations vs interactions is a solid foundation for comparing social media to traditional channels” and Catriona Oldershaw (UK Managing Director, Synthesio) who explained: “we’re in an era of brands made out glass: social reputation is the most important metric.”

After a lunch break, we had a video presentation from Frank Eliason, Director, Global Social Media at Citi, who launched into an expose of the challenges of delivering social media in a highly regulated industry, such as banking. He recommended to buddy up with your regulator, because “nobody really knows what the rules are” and they will be thankful for your input. He highlighted that re-Tweeting a positive comment may be illegal because you’d be exposing the fact that somebody is a customer of your organisation and recommended that we read through European Union Data Protection Law in detail.

Carolyn Blunt from Real Results, and co-author (with Martin) of ‘Delivering Effective Social Customer Service’, then took to the stage to run us through the ‘5 Key Mistakes Your Social Customer Service Agents are Making‘. It was a fascinating analysis – see the full presentation below – and she concluded by providing a mini-roadmap to success:

  1. Make a Connection and show Character
  2. Take Action or offer Alternatives
  3. Find a Resolution
  4. End on a Positive

Our afternoon panel, hosted by Jemima Gibbons (Social Media Strategist) and featuring Leon Chaddock (CEO, Sentiment), Julie Walker (Principle, Purple Spinnaker), Miguel Henales, e-business Director, Iberia Airlines/IAG Group, addressed the issue of how brands deal with ‘Crisis and Negative Sentiment‘ on social. The bottom line – agreed by all – was that brands need to ‘take responsibility’ and, when necessary, apologise publicly. Several preventative options were suggested to limit self-inflicted crises (e.g. keyword blocking on dashboards, and supervisor oversight/moderation) and incoming crises (e.g. monitoring + fast response) .

Our penultimate speaker was Ronan Gillen from eBay, who has spoken at Our Social Times events in Paris and London previously, on the subject of How to Measure and Evaluate Social Customer Service Success. Ronan set out eBay’s sophisticated measurement framework and process and explained how his team works on three categories of metrics:

  1. Operational metrics
  2. Individual metrics
  3. Operational excellence

Within these three categories he is able to track a wealth of metrics and attribute them to business goals. He also has a clear evaluation process, which (from my experience) is a rare thing in #SocialCS. We will try and get a copy of his presentation to share shortly.

Finally, we had an entertaining and enlightening presentation from Rorey Jones, Head of Global Community at Spotify. Now, Spotify is a brand that oozes social media slickness, but they’ve still had to work hard to build and maintain their community of advocates. Their top community ‘Rock Star’ has answered over 35,000 queries posted by other customers, lives in Wales and also manages to maintain a full-time job. Rorey also highlighted some other best practice communities, including Skype’s community, which is nicely integrated into Facebook.

Our partners for Social Customer Service Summit this year were Sentiment, Synthesio and Conversocial – three of the leading providers of social customer monitoring, engagement and analytics services. Each offered free demos and other benefits, so if you haven’t done so yet, I would urge you to get in touch with them directly.

I will be hosting a two-day Social Customer Service Masterclass with Martin Hill-Wilson in London on 24/25 June during which we will lead participants through the process of developing their social customer service strategy and processes. This is he ideal opportunity for you to bring your Marketing and Customer Service teams together – perhaps for the first time! For more information about joining this session, please contact us.

(Top image credit: @JemimaG)

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