How to evolve and improve your social customer service

14 July 2017 by Anita Matthews

UKCCF and Sentiment Social Media SeminarRecently Sentiment joined UKCCF to host a special social media seminar designed to help businesses improve the performance of their social customer care programme. Leading brands such as Mazda, Oxfam and South East Water took part in collaborative discussions around the key social challenges faced by business in managing teams, processes and data.

Sentiment CEO Leon Chaddock also presented key insights about how the social customer service industry is evolving and changing and highlighted several key trends:

Trend #1 - CRM integration

Increasingly customers expect a business to be able to join up previous interaction history.  Integrating social with the CRM provides a 360 degree of the customer across all channels.  It also means the customer can be verified to allow more personalised assistance.

Trend #2 - Real-time messaging

According to recent survey 40% like the idea of customer service using Messaging Apps (like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Snapchat, etc.) - Aspect Consumer Experience Index Research 2016.  Messaging apps are now part of everyday life, and offer businesses a way to build trusted one-to-one relationships. They fit naturally alongside social channels and can follow a similar workflow.

Trend #3 - Cost and ROI

Businesses are always striving to reduce costs and improve efficiency. Social interactions cost much less than traditional channels such as phone. By tracking social agent productivity organisations can now start to understand the true efficiency of their team, and see where there are opportunities to streamline. Twitter CSat  now enables organisations to send out social customer satisfaction surveys to identify any common complaint points and to compare social satisfaction with other channels.

Trend #4 Bots

Although there is lots of hype around artificial intelligence and bots it’s unlikely that these will replace the need for real customer service agents. Today the technology is mostly keyword driven, so unable to deal with complex enquires.  Bots can be useful however for routing enquiries to the right team, or for recommending knowledge base articles.

5 practical steps to make real improvements in social customer care

Take social customer service to the next level

In the second half of the seminar, Junel Oberholzer, Head of Customer Success at Sentiment discussed 5 practical steps businesses can take to achieve social customer service optimisation. Guided by her in-depth experience in supporting Sentiment clients with growing and expanding social customer care, she outlined several key actions.

1. Plan for social customer success

Customers want a consistent experience regardless of the channel they use.  They want to be served in the same channel and have a personalised experience when they need to contact a business. If a customer makes contact on social, aim to resolve that conversation in the channel they used.  There will be times where this is not possible for security or privacy reasons, or maybe where DM’s or private messages work better for lengthy discussions. Plan how you will manage this to ensure all conversation history is retained.

Include input from all areas of the business in your plan.  Marketing, service, tech, product and supply teams all need to be involved to lay the foundations for your strategy.  Each will have slightly different concerns or objectives.  Also don’t forget to include feedback from the customer themselves.  The conversations that agents have with customers provide vast amounts of useful information for the rest of your business.  Take advantage of functionality such as Twitter CSAT surveys to help identify satisfaction levels.

Find out more about social customer care planning in our mini guide: 5 tips for effective social customer service planning.

2. Build an effective team

Training social customer care teams is one of the most critical issues for contact centre managers whether social customer service is outsourced or in-house.  No other department engages with your customers so openly where the digital world can see, judge, praise, or put your reputation in a spin when things go wrong.  How you inspire your team will have a direct impact on how you inspire your customers.  Customer facing roles are changing beyond recognition and teams need to be empowered to deliver high-quality interactions and real dialogue with customers, at scale and in near real-time.

Should you recruit new staff or re-deploy existing ones? Training existing staff to become blended agents working across multiple channels might seem like the quickest and most efficient solution. But, your best people on the phone may not be good at writing responses. Some contact centre agents just won’t be comfortable engaging with customers on public channels. Others simply won’t have the written communication skills to respond effectively, especially in 140 characters, or have the confidence to deliver, say, video support. There are some crossover skills, so you may be able to migrate and retrain some agents from other channels.  But, be prepared to recruit at least some new staff given the specific skills needed to deliver quality social engagement.

Provide agents with the right tools for the job.  Brands can struggle on social if they don’t equip support teams with the right social customer service tool to answer customers properly.  Frontline teams are always under pressure even when there are a moderate number of messages coming their way.  If your social media team is trawling through mentions natively they will get frustrated and miss comments in the commotion.  Use automations to help deflect noise away from agents and make their workspace cleaner and clearer.

Learn more about agent training in our blog: 6 tips to train and inspire your social customer service agents

3. Create scalable efficiency

Once customers see you are engaging and responding on social volumes tend to increase and as more and more people realise they can get effective service and resolution.   Ensure you are prepared for dealing with growing volume, and/or volume spikes.  This doesn’t necessarily mean more agents.  There are many things you can do to prepare and structure your process to ensure agents don’t become overwhelmed.

Simplify your social inbox

Using intelligent workflow and Automations in your social customer service app will make things 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.

4. Optimise agent productivity

Once you have the tool set up and your team in place look at optimizing productivity, to help you do more with less!  Consider quick wins such as:

Increasing real-time visibility

Ensure agents have real-time visibility of all comments that are currently live on social.  Again, having good workflow, Automations and filters and processes in place will help support teams prioritise genuine customer service comments, without being overwhelmed by inboxes filled with noise.  In this way comments which do not need a service response can be routed away from customer service teams – lightening the load.

Performance dashboards

Having visibility on inbound comments, team performance metrics, and tag trends shows everyone how they are doing. Consider using a highly visible dashboard like the Sentiment Social Command Centre, that is displayed in a prominent location to help everyone understand see the current activity levels in a visible way.

Online/Offline statuses

Statuses can be used to help track and monitor agent productivity and understand more about what offline time is being used for.  Reporting on this will help identify and productivity blocks or process improvements.

5. Leverage your social data

Social channels give businesses a ready-made focus group to forecast, understand trends and topics and pre-empt future problems. Brands that are able to act on real-time information can put things right almost immediately, join up the operational process and meet customer expectations that you are listening and ready to fix issues. The reality is most businesses can’t see the bigger picture and overlay social customer service data with data from other channels.

Tap into customer feedback. Ask customers for feedback on their social experience in much the same way as you would for other channels.  With Twitter customer satisfaction/CSAT functionality you can choose from a set list of survey questions to be sent to social customers at random to enable you monitor changes in customer satisfaction and perception.

Tag and report on customer behaviours. Real insights come from complaints – the better you understand what areas customers most frequently complain about the better equipped you are as a business to try and fix these. Use social reporting to take a deep dive into customer conversations to understand what drives customer satisfaction, complaints, motivations and behaviours.

Benchmark against SLAs. How quickly are your team responding?

Analyse your social customer care data to look at ways you can improve this without necessarily needing more agents.   Using smart workflows and automations can take away some of the heavy lifting for your social team and improve the speed of their replies. Does this correlate with an increase in volume of social messages? Once customers notice a business responds to social messages they will see social as an easy contact channel and volume is likely to increase. This can be beneficial as social tends to have a lower cost to serve than many other channels.

The next step?

Interested in improving your social customer care? Try our free guide: Managing social customer service at scale or request a demo to see how Sentiment can work for you...
                                                                                How to handle social customer service at scale

Tags: UKCCF, Integrated social customer service, social trends, Social customer service optimisation