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5 Steps to Superior Social Customer Service

By now you’ve probably noticed a common thread connecting all of the content on icmi.com this month.  February is all about Social Media Customer Support! We wanted to start the year off with this topic because it’s so integral to the success of the contact center in 2014.

Our customers are more social than ever, and according to 2013 ICMI research, 67% of contact center leaders feel that social media is now a NECESSARY customer service channel.

To help us kick off this area of focus, ICMI and Five9 hosted a webinar: Five Steps to Superior Social Customer Service. In her introduction, Software Advice’s Ashley Verrill shared some powerful statistics about the current reality of social media and customer service.

  • 71 percent of those who experience positive social care experience are likely to recommend that brand to others, compared to just 19 percent of customers that do not receive a response
  • Nearly one in three social media users prefer to reach out to a brand for customer service through a social channel compared to the phone

What does this mean for the contact center? Now is the time to develop (or refine) your social strategy.  Here are the 5 steps that will put your contact center on a path towards superior social customer service.

Step 1: Strategy

As with any other new initiative, you need to ensure you have a clear strategy, primarily regarding who should respond to what kinds of messages.

“Typically, social media has lived in the marketing team’s domain,” said Ashley Verrill. “So, one of the first questions companies often have when starting a social customer service program is, ‘How can we make this a more collaborative experience between these two departments?’”

Once you’ve established who should respond, you must also consider when and what to respond to.  It may be impossible to respond to every mention of your brand, so Verrill recommends a guide for prioritizing.

These are the types of messages that deserve a response:

  • Urgent Requests
  • Gratitude
  • Negative sentiment
  • FAQ
  • Technical questions

Step 2: Listen

In order to be proactive, it’s very important to listen to what your customers are saying about your brand on social media.

This means not only monitoring brand handle mentions, but also setting up alerts to monitor conversations about your brand, mentions of your competitors, and support indicators.

“Often, when a customer is tweeting both you and your competitor, they are at the moment of making a purchase decision,” said Verrill. “They might be switching from your brand to your competitor, or vice versa. This is a great opportunity for you to intercept that person and ensure that they become, or stay your customer.”

Jonathan Russell adds that while setting up keyword or key phrase alerts is essential, all this data can be overwhelming!  How can agents make time for this?  Russell recommends automating the process when possible.

“You want something that is automatically doing a lot of pre-processing on social posts, “ said Russell. “Tool sets can help read through and categorize your social posts, so that you can route them to the right agent and get the right people to work on them.”

Step 3: Triage Your Customer Service Tweets

When not properly organized and delegated, incoming social media inquiries can be overwhelming, but Verrill suggests there are several ways to effectively triage.

  1. Convert Social Messages in Trouble Tickets
  2. Prioritize Messages Based on Sentiment
  3. Automatically Re-route if Messages go unanswered
  4. Tag messages for other people of departments when appropriate

Essentially, treat social as you would any other customer service channel.

“Having the ability to convert your social customer service messages into trouble tickets allows your team to effectively handle that request just like they would issues from any other channel,” said Verrill. This makes the process seamless because it fits into their current work flow. It’s not disruptive, and as as result, their productivity isn’t impacted.“

Step 4: Respond and Follow-Up

You’ve strategized, listened, and triaged; now is the time to respond and react.

A few tips for success:

  • Respond in a timely manner
  • Don’t give customers the runaround
  • Be human
  • Provide links thoughtfully
  • Always respond publicly

“Make sure everyone can see you resolved your issue,” said Verrill. “In the absence of information, people will assume you haven’t handled the issue or ignored it otherwise.”

And Russell adds that it’s important to arm agents with customer history and context so they’re better equipped to respond appropriately and personalize the message.

“From a tool perspective, I would encourage you to have something that shows social history, said Russell. “Having that tool set, to be able to know how to respond, gives your agents a lot better feel about what’s going on and leads them to give a really good answer.”

Step 5:  Measure

Every other channel in the contact center is measured for KPIs, and social should not be the exception.

A few KPIs that Verrill and Russell recommend tracking:

  • Average Response Time
  • Average Handle Time
  • Percent Response
  • Customer Sentiment

“Measure, improve, and measure again,” says Russell.  “Being able to track those things at an agent level and overall level is very important.”

Are you ready to commit to superior social customer service this year? I encourage you to watch the full webinar.  It’s packed with many real-world examples and illustrations that you can apply immediately in your contact center. 

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