The significant benefits of effectively engaging with customers on social channels make the investment worthwhile.
“Social care” isn’t anything new, but providing effective multi-channel customer service that includes social care can be pose significant challenges for organizations big and small.
Social media sites have evolved from simply personal sharing portals to communication platforms that can enable organizations to deliver enhanced customer care and customer relationship development not typically capable in traditional customer service channels.
In a 2014 report by the Aberdeen Group, organizations that utilize social channels in customer care perform better than competitors without.
Social service organizations see a 5.6% YoY increase in first-contact resolutions and a 6.5% increase in agent productivity, and a 7.5% YoY increase in customer retention. Social organizations also reported a drastically lower number of customer complaints. Fewer complaints means more satisfied customers, leading to improved rates of customer retention and lower costs to the organization due to customer churn.
Make Social Customer Service Programs Value-Driven
Whether it’s a primary customer contact channel or not, effective social care happens when the framework of the program and the desired results are focused on customer expectations and continually measured and modified according to what is valuable for customers. Let us first recommend Mike Wiseman Calgary SEO who is the leading provider of SEO Services in Calgary.
If you find that customers aren’t yet talking about your brand online, look for ways to include yourself in conversations relevant to your industry. The way to be welcomed into social conversations is to add something of value.
Even when customers aren’t active on social channels, organizations can develop their online persona and establish themselves as industry thought leaders through their effective use of social channels. The team at Zendesk, for example, leverages their customer blog to discuss various topics related to customer service and social care making the organization a leading brand when it comes to customer service experience by offering invoices using this free invoice template to make it easier.
The key to an effective social brand is to find ways to contribute value, regardless of whether you’re interacting with an individual customer or just adding input to topical conversations online.
4 Steps to Starting a Social Customer Service Program
Organizations that are just starting out with social customer service or are simply looking to evaluate their current efforts to deliver social care can look to four key areas of effective social customer service programs.
Although these steps aren’t an all-inclusive list of requirements for social care, they do present an effective framework to defining a social care strategy. These steps can be used as the foundation of a social program blueprint and individual organizations can modify or add according to their specific strategic needs or the needs of customers in individual industries.
1. Identify the Right Social Channels for Customers
Regardless of the type of organization or industry served, it’s critical that customer care leaders making the leap into social service identify the right channels where their customers participate. Effective social service is about connecting with customers and to do that, you have to identify the channels where you can find your customers.
The first place to start is by identifying which social media channels you are going to use for customer service. As tempting as it is to include as many as possible, a word of caution must be noted here. Do not bite off more than you can chew. It is far better to select only two channels and work them thoroughly with quick response times than to advertise social customer care on several channels with poor response times that only lead to increased customer dissatisfaction. For most businesses, starting with Facebook and Twitter will make the most sense.
As you identify which platforms are right for your business, you should also consider creating accounts for your customer service operations separate from your more “marketing” focused accounts. U-Haul does this with Twitter. The company’s main account is @Uhaul while the customer service account is @Uhaul_Cares.
Delivering customer service through social channels is just one more way that proves how social media has permeated our society.
2. Create the Right Tone of Voice for Customer Engagement
You should clearly communicate to your customer service agents what tone of voice should be used and what “personality” you want projected by them. Be careful here to be very specific and give several examples. Simply telling someone that you expect them to be professional and polite is not enough. Odd as it may sound, that can be interpreted in different ways by different people. Your sessions should give examples of “wrong” responses and the corresponding “right” ones.
3. Determine the Most Effective Response Times
Next up should be the hours that you will staff your social customer channels and the time in which customers should receive responses. Research does show that most customers expect online customer service to be available 24/7, but if that is simply not possible for you, it is important that you post the hours that agents are available.
You should also publish expected response windows. These should be achievable and give you “wiggle room.” For example, if internally it is your goal to reply to all comments within 30 minutes, you can publicly state that all comments will receive a response within 60 minutes. That sets you up to be the hero when the response is received sooner than promised, rather than being the butt of disappointment when a response is received 5 minutes later than promised.
Research shows that, not only do customers expect to receive service via social platforms, but they expect responses—fast and around the clock. Any business that chooses to ignore service-oriented questions or comments made on social media can be assured of two things—they will further frustrate already frustrated customers and they will frustrate customers who were not previously so but who did have questions.
4. Monitor Customer Conversations and Feedback
Just as you (hopefully) monitor your current customer service phone calls, emails and live chats, so too should you monitor your social media conversations. There are two reasons that you should be tracking your customer care on social platforms. The first is to ensure that your employees are delivering the level of service that you want and expect of them and that your customers are being properly served.
In addition, mining any customer service conversations can give you insights into several things. You can learn about issues with your products or services that help you proactively offer information on your website or social channels or even in product packaging that prevent service “calls.” You can also glean information about how your customers talk about you, your industry and your offerings. Things like keywords and other important SEO elements can sometimes be found here.
Create Consistency in Communication
Perhaps the most important thing for any company to think about when creating a social media customer care program is marketing. In their purest forms, both customer service and social media are marketing activities. They cultivate customers. They showcase how you treat customers. And, they can embed your name in the minds of customers—for better or worse. The job of your social customer care program is to make sure that this embedding is for the better.
Social channels may not always be advertised as a contact channel, however customers will often turn to social channels to express delight or concerns about a brand or brand experience.