Social media amplifies the customer voice. But how do you listen, better still respond and, at best, garner social intelligence?
To be honest, I’m not sure you’re keen to find out how long it takes before the social media savvy portion of your customers deserts you. But hopefully you will recognise that keeping those customers (and winning over new ones for that matter) at a time when social networks are rapidly proving to be the medium of choice for customers in search of real-time service requires some hard and fast decisions on social media integration in the contact centre.
Those businesses trying to delay the incorporation of social media channels are really cheating their customers, half of whom, social research shows, are flocking to social networks like Twitter or Facebook to share feedback, ask questions and interact with brands. What’s more, they are denying themselves significant opportunities to turn customer service into a competitive advantage and gain a great deal of insight into consumer preferences along the way.
That is not to say that integrating social media in the contact centre doesn’t come with its own challenges. Let me share the 4 most common stumbling blocks with you below and explain why it’s worth tackling them.
1. Legacy Systems
50% of Gen X and 71% of Gen Y customers have contacted brands using social platforms and it’s far from a fad. Therefore businesses need to be able to switch between traditional and new social channels, to talk to customers and catch them in the right channels, at the right time along their customer journey. How does your current business technology cope with this social revolution?
Understandably, many businesses will look to protect their investment in legacy systems but often they just don’t have the capability to support a blended, omni-channel approach. Sure, its adoption comes at a cost but the expense far outweighs the cost of losing a chunk of customers that could have been turned into loyal fans.
Focus on the potential: deflecting mundane phone calls from your time-pressed agents, increasing customer retention and reaching out to myriad new customers.
2. Scalable Intimacy
Let’s face it, from start-up to corporation, a fair few businesses continue to struggle with the Why and How of social media while others are racing past building close relationships with people, and people really includes customers, business partners, prospects, influencers and anyone else outside the business who controls its brand’s fate. They know that engaging with advocates and critics alike gives a brand its human touch and social customer service is one of the key building blocks of a personalised and, well, human experience on social media.
Now, if you want to achieve consistent, excellent service across social media it is key to equip the contact centre with the tools that allow agents to tune into the myriad conversations, filter the noise and identify priority actions, and respond to numerous people in a timely manner.
Remember that this new type of interaction is public and, quite simply, visible to everyone, so instances of one-to-one contact that demonstrate customer service excellence will be recognised by a wide, observant audience. It’s a great opportunity to build positive rapport! With the right technology and agents it is absolutely possible to roll out an intimate brand experience on a larger scale and preserve the warm and fuzzy feeling of one-to-one communication when talking to a larger crowd.
3. Universal Agents
In the last few years, social media management has typically fallen into the remits of Marketing and PR teams and for communications purposes that model is still valid. However, social customer interaction should not be deflected to teams that aren’t best suited to deal with product and service enquiries. That’s where your customer service team should be coming into its own.
Importantly, if social media interactions are publicly visible, agents will need training to become proficient in using social channels and deliver concisely and empathetically written messages. Additionally, if you are looking to scale up then then you may need more agents and, importantly, more agents operating more efficiently. Again, this efficiency comes from enhancing your contact centre with software and applications that let your agents monitor all channels at one glance, swap between them and respond to requests in real-time. In short, it is worth empowering them to become omnipresent, universal agents.
4. Measuring Results
A quick response is great but only good enough if it is actually helpful to your customers, so naturally measuring your social customer service success is vital. Adequate indicators include cost savings from call deflection, customer satisfaction levels, brand sentiment and net promoter scores as well as average response times.
To observe quietly, get a better feel for brand sentiment and what your customers are looking for, respond to critics or engage in conversation with your stakeholders, monitoring your social outlets is the starting point and pivotal in both troubleshooting customer requests and building social intelligence – the cornerstone of adaptive, personalised service in the here and now.
Whether your business is ready to dive in head-on or not, the fact is that your customers are out there and talking about you, influencing your brand value in ways that you must be able to see, track and manage. For starters, that means strategizing social service and incorporating social media channels in the contact centre. Let’s get started then! The gains for the brave are huge.
ALEX NICOLL is a technology innovator and Director of Bizvu Social, an end-to-end digital solution that allows companies and organisations to collate and manage data from Social Media, Online and Mobile feeds and integrate them with deployed in-house systems to provide better customer insight, customer management and iinteraction.