How to get the Best Return from Social Customer Service

24th Sep, 2014
Read time: 3 minutes

As many organisations have discovered, striking the right balance on social customer service can be tough. Yet, rather than viewing it as a challenge for the contact centre, it is well worth considering the advantages and opportunities it can bring, both for the customer and the business.

One of the biggest returns comes from the ability to interact with customers over a broader spectrum of channels. In particular, social media gives organisations a forum to deliver information and service updates that can in turn help to cut the number of enquiries they receive, reducing the volume of calls that follow a publicity crisis, service outage or other unexpected event.

Making social strategy work

Done well, good social customer service can positively impact brand image: in the same way that a badly-executed interaction can go viral on Twitter or Facebook, customers and the media are now quick to share good responses, especially if – where appropriate – they are written in a lively or amusing style.

There are three fundamental reasons why many enterprises are still struggling to manage social media. Firstly, this is because interactions are dealt with separately, rather than integrating social media monitoring and engagement capabilities within the traditional contact centre environment.

Secondly, due to the lack of proper resource planning, resources are either over or under committed.

Finally, agents need access to the right information and must also have the necessary skills to deal with interactions. Training, quality monitoring and a supervisor approval loop will all help to ensure agents convey the right information in the right way, which will prevent inadvertent crises due to incorrect, misleading or inappropriate responses.

Getting the three factors right will help transform the customer engagement strategy and enable a contact centre to deliver a more responsive multichannel engagement experience for their customers.

Calm in a crisis – taking a proactive approach

Using 'constructive interventions' that keep customers informed via social media is one of the best ways to proactively take the heat out of a crisis. For example, if a network provider alerts customers to a service outage and posts updates, its customer community is more likely to feel included and empathetic. In turn, the contact centre faces fewer calls and queries via other channels.

However when a crisis hits, it is the service team's responsibility to deal with questions and keep customers informed. As part of this, many teams work tirelessly to put out fires. Here, social media tools that monitor sentiment changes and word clouds (a visual representation of commonly used keywords or hashtags) can help narrow down the origins of a problem.

Using this insight, they can provide positive and effective responses based on up-to-date information, turning customer sentiment. A better-equipped contact centre can also contain negative posts and prevent them from spreading and doing further damage.

Likewise, it is now possible to differentiate between various types of comments or complaints made on social media. In a crisis, this means directing work more efficiently. Pressing customer service requests are dealt with promptly and by the relevant team, while more general feedback or retweets are passed on, reducing service backlog.

Quantifiable results

Good contact centre technology uses dashboards to highlight how well the contact centre is performing against its overall service objectives by capturing and evaluating key performance indicators such as First Contact Resolution (FCR), Customer Effort and Customer Lifetime Value scores.

However, for social media interactions, these established metrics can't always be applied or captured. From a management perspective, case studies and reports should therefore aim to prove how a social customer service strategy has been used to save costs and improve performance in other areas, such as reducing the volume of voice calls and speeding-up incident management.

Specifically, this may include: direct deflection metrics (where the contact centre provides a direct answer through a social channel); indirect deflection (where a customer finds an existing answer in an online community); early issue identification (quantifying the cost per incident of faster identification and resolution of a product or service issue) and churn reduction (i.e. a decrease in cancellations and movement to competitors).

By Richard Farrell, CTO at Netcall.

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