How to deliver personalised digital customer service at scale

09 February 2018 by Anita Matthews

Engage customers with authentic, personalised social customer service

Customer service can make or break a customer relationship. How the customer feels after engaging with a brand, when they have complaint or a problem, either reinforces or changes the brand perception.

For many businesses, technology and automation can increase the speed and efficiency of processing digital customer service enquiries. However, for complex issues a personalised, human touch can be key in re-building trust and repairing the relationship.

The most successful brands combine the power and efficiency of technology, with personalised human intervention, enabling them to enhance the customer experience, not confuse it.

  • 96% say customer service plays a role in their choice of and loyalty to a brand (Microsoft State of Global Customer Service Report 2017)
  • 72% of respondents expect agents to already know who they are, what they’ve purchased, and have insight into their previous engagements. (Microsoft)
  • An Infosys’ Rethinking Retail study found that personalisation had influenced the shopping decisions of 59% of consumers.

Businesses must strive to deliver the perfect balance of efficiency and personalisation, while managing increasing volumes of customer service enquiries across digital channels.

Customers have a range of emotional needs they expect your brand to meet. Identifying and responding to these needs will enable you to differentiate your brand from the competition, and encourage customers to be loyal.

The challenges of personalisation

It all sounds simple in theory, but the reality can be a little more complex. Customers expect service on the channel that suits them.  They also expect you to have all the relevant information about their previous customer service interactions.

This means you need a joined up, integrated approach to managing your customer service channels. Otherwise you risk delivering an inconsistent experience, or providing conflicting information.

It’s also key to ensure your customer service agents are well trained and understand the importance that they play the process.  Empowering them to operate within a clear policy, and giving them the tools to do their job will go a long way towards supporting them and enabling them to deliver the best service possible.

To help you deliver effective, personalised social customer care we’ve put together a few best practice tips:

#1. Plan as a business

Take an organisation-wide approach to customer service strategy. The conversations that agents have with customers are information tributaries for the rest of your business and you need to figure out how use this to deliver better service.

Understanding more about why customers contact you will enable you to better plan and structure your team and resources.

Listen to social conversions that mention your brand. Track which social channels and messaging platforms are the most popular. Comparatively analyse volumes for each platform to help you forecast inbound and outbound messaging and manage your resources for first-phase deployment. Using a social customer service tool with analytics will be a major help here.

#2. Focus on the channels that matter

When it comes to the social channels you need to monitor, in a sense the choice will be made for you because you will need to focus on integrating the platforms which matter most to your customers. You will have discovered this in your social listening phase.

It’s best to prioritise two or three at first. Trying to manage lots of channels will only dilute efficiency and the quality of engagement.

#3. Shared technology

Social media teams and technology are converging and businesses are changing the way they organise internally around social engagement.

Brands need to listen - together as a business – to understand, and respond to, what a customer experiences along their journey. Marketing campaigns are only effective if customer service teams are prepared and ready to answer questions and comments about the campaign.

By sharing technology, customer service and marketing teams can benefit from economies of scale and stop the silo mentality resurfacing. If different departments continue to use different tools and social data is skewed by incompatible listening methodologies and objectives, it will inevitably impact the quality of the service delivered.

#4. Agent training

The quality of the support team you build, the training programme and engagement tool you provide, and how you reward staff is absolutely key. Agents need to feel empowered to deliver high-quality interactions, and real dialogue with customers, at scale and in near real-time.

Encourage agents to show empathy, not sympathy. Try to use words such as ‘feel’ and felt. Show you understand, not feel sorry for them.

Create a social media playbook and have clear guidelines on what can be shared on an open channel and what needs to be discussed in a private conversation. The playbook should include real-world examples of how to reply to specific types of questions and comments, handle complaints and deal with offensive language. Also include examples of what agents should not say.  This empowers agents to be more authentic and have personalised conversations your customers can relate to. 

#5. Optimise your workflow and processes

Quality, personalised service pivots on how well you organise your support team so they can assess and prioritise comments to make sure each and every message that requires a response receives one.

A unified inbox, with intelligent workflows and automations will make it easier for agents to quickly work through relevant messages, matched to the skills they have. Noise and spam is filtered out and priority mentions are routed to the right person at the right time to action.

#6. Demonstrate the value of customer service

You need to be able to measure the impact of providing a personalised customer service response, so you can demonstrate customer service ROI and justify the investment.

Consider using Twitter’s Customer Satisfaction Feedback feature (similar to CSAT / NPS industry standards) so consumers can score your performance following a customer service interaction. You can then benchmark these against other channels or use the feedback for agent training.

Monitor sentiment conversion. Customers will often start off angry but effective, personalised engagement can often turn a negative into a positive.

The perfect combination

Creating the perfect personalised social customer care means combining both technology and human intellect and expertise.  It needs to be consistent and repeatable at scale, to ensure customer needs are met each and every time they contact the brand.

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Tags: social customer service, customer retention, digital customer engagement, social complaint