The importance of social interaction in customer service
The visibility of social interaction between customers and organisation provides a ready-made source of improvement opportunities. Traditionally Customer Service has had a tough time proving the root cause of service failure and getting things fixed. This is now changing as interaction analytics and “Big Data” solutions arrive. Social Customer Service data adds further momentum to this trend.
We are now entering the age in which Customer Service provides a mirror for the rest of the organisation to see itself. This elevates Customer Service into a key strategic role in customer orientated organisations. Those in Social Customer Service can only benefit.
The upsides are numerous. Operational costs are reduced as service failure volumes decline. Customer satisfaction improves as customer effort is minimised. Beyond improvement lies innovation. Mature deployments of support communities are well known for capturing, evaluating and benefiting from customer ideas.
Conversely, failure to learn can affect brand reputation over time. The chances of this becoming corrosive to customer sentiment increases the more that people witness a brand’s failure to act.
- The Social Customer Service team might not have the bandwidth to do much more than operationally respond to customer issues. If that’s the case, then certain issues that could be fixed are likely to be repeated.
- It is known from mainstream Customer Service that the majority of opportunities for service improvement exist outside their direct control. In other words, they are caused by other teams. These are the ones who need convincing that change is needed. Indicative keyword reports or senior reaction to a “live” situation might be sufficient to trigger a change in process or policy. This cannot be relied on. Unfortunately, social analytics is not typically geared to archiving historical data for mining the frequency and size of an issue and therefore quantifying the value of solving it. Deployment of interaction analytics in contact centres has shown this is a vital part of business case development when significant change is at stake.
- Even when it is easier to evidence the need for improvement, e.g. the volume of posts accumulating on a single issue in a support community, it is often the personal network of relationships that the community leadership team have built that then facilitates these changes happening as opposed to more formal channels.
- When change is implemented, there is no guarantee that everything is then fixed. The old issue might resurface. There may be unintended consequences generated by the new solution. Having the resources and ability to track improvements is necessary for effective change management.
Quick wins version
Run a monthly session with contact centre, e-service and Social Customer Service teams to spot common opportunities and issues. Between sessions, use a simple team based voting to track if improvements are being sustained.
1. Build an approach to gathering insights from customer interactions that works for your resource and budget levels. Ask your social media monitoring vendor how they can help. Keep a close watch on any complementary analytics capability being introduced elsewhere in your organisation.
2. Align team goals, metrics and rewards to make this activity part of everyday work.
3. Develop a tracking system that allows you to effectively monitor improvements.
4. Promote this mission across the business. Build a network of support. Maintain awareness of its value through internal marketing. Plug into any other related initiatives such as Voice of the Customer (VoC).
- Successful social media leaders have made it their business to proactively network at equivalent levels. In times of need, when fixes are required, often at short notice, this investment pays off.
- Incentivise the Social Customer Service teams to keep personal journals on what they notice as common themes in their interactions. Use these as inputs to more formal analysis.
This is an edited extract from Delivering Effective Social Customer Service: How to Redefine the Way You Manage Customer Experience and Your Corporate Reputation, by Martin Hill-Wilson and Carolyn Blunt, published by Wiley, RRP £19.99
Carolyn Blunt is Managing Director of Real Results Training Consultancy, a people development company that specialises in contact centre customer service training. For the past decade, Carolyn has been writing, speaking and training on contact centre customer service, and has been observing the positive and negative impacts of using social media for customer service first hand. @carolynblunt [email protected]
Martin Hill-Wilson is a customer service and social business strategist. His company Brainfood Consulting provides customer strategy services to a range of B2B and B2C brands. Martin is also a long-term member of the UK customer service community passing on his expertise as a keynote speaker and blogger. @martinhw [email protected]