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Customer Service For The Social Generation

socialcustomerservice.pngCustomer service is changing rapidly. Traditional methods of private communication between customer and supplier are fast being replaced by social media.

In the past customers used to have to phone or email a supplier to report an issue but now customers are increasingly turning to Twitter and Facebook to engage with an organisation. Customer issues, complaints and praise are shared openly with the world and how an organisation responds to this can significantly affect their reputation and ultimately profitability.

Social Media Today findings have shown that 65% of people polled think social media is better than call centres and their 2015 Social Customer Service Index showed Facebook has far outstripped Twitter as the preferred tool for social engagement between customers and organisations, with 47% of consumers stating that Facebook was the most effective tool compared to only 28.5% favouring Twitter.

Whether the engagement platform is Facebook or Twitter the core values of customer service stay the same and success comes from ensuring you engage with your customers and focus always on how you can provide them with the service they demand.

A survey carried out by Harris Poll for InContact in April 2015 showed that 70% of adults in the U.S. are willing to pay more for good customer service and that 86% would switch to another company after a bad customer service experience.

Although providing “Social Care” can be exceptionally challenging for organisations even if they have a great track record of providing traditional customer service. Customer demands and expectations are rising year on year and their definition of what constitutes good service and a fast response has escalated beyond what many organisations could ever imagine 10 years ago.

Another Harris Poll survey for Lithium in May this year found that 82% of corporate executives in the said that customers’ expectations were higher than they were 3 years ago (with 47% saying the expectations were “much” higher).

Due to the public nature of social media, poor performance by an organisation can be extremely damaging to their reputation and in fact exceptionally poor examples of customer services get shared very quickly around the internet. Statistics from a Zendesk sponsored poll showed that 95% of bad experiences are shared compared to 87% of good experiences. Human nature unfortunately prefers to share bad news.

So what does all this mean for organisations providing customer services? Certainly it means that many will need to rethink their service levels and either change their SLA’s across all communication channels or at least look at measuring specifically how well they are performing on the public facing social platforms.

The traditional values and measurements of customer service are still relevant and indeed key to providing a good service but there are also a multitude of different measurements to watch that are specifically aimed at social care, the most important I feel are listed here:

Number of Posts Reacted To

Obviously a critical measurement. Leaving a customer service request unanswered on Facebook or Twitter can be extremely damaging to an organisations reputation. Responding to all posts can sometimes be impossible and also not warranted, some organisations make sure customer service requests always get answered by having a separate account to deal with them.

Post Response Times

Response times on social media are critical. Customers expect almost immediate interaction whenever they post to Twitter or Facebook. It’s unrealistic for most organisations to respond immediately however a good benchmark to aim for is a response to a customer within an hour with those wanting to really perform well aiming for within 30 minutes. That includes in the evenings and weekends. Research by Jay Baer shows that 57% of consumers surveyed expect the same response at night and on weekends as they would during normal office hours.

Sentiment of Posts

Keeping a close eye on the positive and negative posts on social media is an entire market in its own right, however when it comes to customer service it is good to measure the number of posts coming through the various channels and whether they are good or bad. Social customer service doesn’t just mean reacting to people raising problems, it also means reacting to people giving you praise.

Conversation Depth

The depth of a conversation or in plain English, the number of posts back and forth between you and your customer on a specific issue provides a good measurement of a) how effective the customer service advisor is and b) how much customer effort has had to go in to getting the issue dealt with.

In conclusion, if “social care” is taken seriously by organisations and done well, it can generate a very positive image of an organisation and can showcase why others should buy their services. Done badly of course it can do the complete opposite and negative feelings and comments can be shared around the world in seconds.

Posted Friday, September 18th, 2015 by Pete Luck

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