Over the past couple of years, the concept of Social Customer Service has rapidly taken off. During that time, we’ve heard some fantastic case studies from brands that are moving social to the heart of their customer service efforts and integrating those efforts with traditional customer services.
We’ve collected some of these insights and teamed up with social intelligence and engagement platform, Sentiment, to produce an in-depth Whitepaper – Social Media Monitoring for Customer Service.
The report is designed to offer useful guidance to any practitioners who are grappling with the challenges of social customer service and features insights from several leading customer service and social media professionals, including:
- Luke Brynley-Jones – Our Social Times
- Leon Chaddock – Sentiment
- Ronan Gillen – eBay
- Martin Hill-Wilson – Brainfood Consulting
- Katy Howell – immediate future
- Tom Messett – Nokia
- Bian Salins – BSkyB
You can download the full report here, or read on for a few snippets:
The Challenge of Social Media Monitoring for Customer Service
Social media monitoring has traditionally been controlled by the Marketing or Communications Departments and opening it up to Customer Services presents a range of challenges:
- What will the work-flow be?
- Which conversations should take priority?
- Who will follow-up and ensure each issue is responded to and, subsequently, closed?
One option is to have Marketing staff engaging with customer queries, but as Katy Howell explains, this may not be an effective solution:
“Marketing and Communications don’t always have access to the customer database, which causes problems when they’re responding to queries picked up through social media monitoring. When did the purchase happen? Is the customer in warranty? These are common questions and Customer Service can handle these enquiries so much better than them. They just need the right tools at their disposal”.
Unfortunately, things aren’t as simple as taking existing call centre staff giving them social media access.
“Here we have a new problem: Customer Service teams have always conducted conversations on a one-to-one or private manner, yet suddenly their conversations can be happening in public. This is a whole new challenge.
There’s also the issue that, when you’ve only got 140 characters, you have to be able to write effectively. It requires a whole new skill-set and, often, re-training”.
Choosing Your Monitoring Platform
There are reportedly over 400 social media monitoring solutions on the market, yet only perhaps 20 of these are sufficiently robust – in terms of having comprehensive data, a complete suite of monitoring and engagement features, CRM integration and reporting – to base your customer listening programme on. Fewer still have developed features specifically with customer service in mind. When choosing a social media monitoring tool, ask yourself:
- Are you being provided with comprehensive data?
- Do you plan to manage the tool completely yourselves or have it configured for you?
- Are you interested in monitoring how customers feel about your brand/products?
- Do you want to see an indication of how ‘influential’ your customers are?
- Do you have specific geographical or language requirements?
- Do you require integration with your CRM or customer service channels?
- Does it offer genuine real-time listening?
- What engagement features do you need?
- What are your reporting requirements?
- Will your staff be able to use the platform?
- What budget are you working to?
Managing Your Social Customer Service Programme
When it comes to actually managing your social customer service programme, empowerment is a vital concept. If they are to ‘wow’ customers, customer service staff need to be able to make quick decisions, without waiting for approval. As eBay’s Ronan Gillen explains:
“Your team needs to be able to make quick decisions and know that they will be supported – even if they don’t make the right decision every time.”
Meeting Customer Expectations
A 2012 survey from Edison Research found that most people who engage with brands via social media expect a response the same day and 40% within the hour. Yet, whilst the average response time by phone stands at 2 minutes, the average response time on Twitter is 357 minutes, and Facebook is even worse, coming in at 819 minutes.
Preventing and Managing Crises
The initial driver for most major brands to engage in social media monitoring is crisis prevention. In addition to helping to identify ‘influential’ detractors, having a platform that enables you to capture and manage potentially thousands of customer queries posted to social media channels can be invaluable.
When BT suffered a network outage in 2009 they were quick to turn to social media to update their customers. As Bian Salins, BT’s former Head of Social Media Innovation and Customer Service, explains:
“What we saw was largely negative sentiment turn very quickly into positive sentiment purely because of the way we chose to communicate and the transparency with which we communicated with our audience. Those two things are core to how brands manage crisis situations.”
Gaining Customer Insights
Away from the coal-face of direct customer engagement, the data gathered through social media monitoring can also be incredibly useful. By categorizing and sifting through data relating to past queries and complaints, brands can gain insights that simply aren’t visible from day-to-day interactions.
In addition to eliciting customer insights from monitoring data, it also presents opportunities for improving processes internally. Katy’s team at Immediate Future devised a measurement framework for each customer service client, dividing up the dashboards into three sections to provide three separate areas of evaluation:
1. Service – listening volume, relevant conversation volume, handling time
2. Effectiveness – customer satisfaction, revenue generation or cost reduction, loyalty/sentiment
3. Quality – agent performance, first-post resolution, escalation and transfer rate
A final word
This report highlights the increasingly blurred line between customer service, marketing and communications in social media. With planning, coordination and the right technology, it may be possible to distinguish between customer motives, knowing who should respond and how. Yet, whilst technology can facilitate this, in the end it’s often the human response – the personal touch – that enhances the customer relationship.
You can download the full report here – Whitepaper: Social Media Monitoring for Customer Service