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Getting started with Social Customer Service

social-customer-service.imageKlaas van der Leest, Managing Director, Intelecom UK Ltd, shares his top five tips for successful social media customer service in contact centres

Love it or loath it, social media is here to stay. Customers enjoy the immediacy of using IM, Twitter or Facebook to share information and ideas. People expect to interact using their PCs, tablets, mobile phones and other personal electronic devices.

Social media is big business and getting it right enhances brand awareness, protects corporate reputation and ultimately leads to commercial success. Just take a look at the statistics. According to CRM experts Salesforce.com[i], those who engage with companies over social media spend 20%-40% more money than other customers and more than 60% of consumers are influenced by other purchasers’ comments. Yet, an alarming 70% of companies ignore customer complaints on Twitter and only 23% provide customer service on Facebook.

However, not so long ago getting a response to a social media enquiry was cause for celebration, now it is a necessity and if a company fails to respond it does so at its peril. The last thing anyone wants is a black mark on social media. Here are 5 tips for getting started and building a successful social customer care strategy.

1) Listen carefully

Start by monitoring what customers are saying on social media and identify which channels are the most popular. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are the main starting points but also consider vertical platforms such as TripAdvisor for travel or hospitality companies. Compare that input with insight from the contact centre, listening to both customers and prospects. Use agent and customer surveys to collect more relevant data and speech analytics for even further analysis. How many calls begin with “I’ve already posted a comment on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn without a reply”? By listening in the right places you will gain a wealth of information which will ultimately contribute to a fully integrated customer service model, irrespective of channel or source.

2) Train experienced agents

There can be resistance to the introduction of social customer service as senior management may not see the benefit of the investment. Those at the top of an organisation are unlikely to engage heavily in social media and therefore will not readily see the potential return when putting the team and solutions in place to handle social care contacts. Many organisations make the mistake of hiring students or temporary staff to deal with social media enquiries when experienced agents should be tasked with the job. To reduce risk those agents with most product knowledge, best writing skills and awareness of where to look for information should be given technical training on how to use social media and compliance knowledge (so they know what can be discussed in a public channel and what should be taken off line). Using the right solution with skills based routing ensures enquiries are dealt with by the best qualified agent.

3) Invest in the right solution set

Companies looking to step up their use of social media and social support, whether building a new contact centre or planning to update their current infrastructure, should start by thinking cloud. A cloud-based contact centre infrastructure combines the benefits of a traditional on-premise solution with the increased flexibility, scalability, reliability and, last but not least, cost efficient Pay-As-You-Go pricing provided by the latest Contact Centre as a Service (CCaaS) solutions. Multichannel capabilities allow agents to respond to voice, email, social media, Chat, SMS and Web “call me” requests all within the same application, leading to faster response times, exceptional customer care and reduced costs.

4) Scale Operations

Another advantage of CCaaS is that organisations can take a low risk approach and start small with the ability to conduct a “real world test” without the need to update and invest CAPEX into existing telephony technology. There is always the option to integrate the system further down the road or roll it out to the whole contact centre at a later date by creating an overlay on top of existing infrastructure and retaining any investment in legacy equipment.

5) Keep key influencers close

Individuals with high numbers of followers are regarded as key influencers and it is important to keep them happy as they can quickly drive action in a positive and negative way. Treat them in the same way as VIP callers, using the latest CCaaS solution to first identify them via the CRM system and then prioritise their online interactions to provide first-class service. Likewise social conversations and customer histories should integrate with and supplement existing records to give a 360-degree view of the customer.

For social customer service to be successful it is essential for departments to work together including customer service, e-commerce, marketing and sales. This will ensure a unified brand image on social media. Agents handling social media enquiries have an ideal opportunity to guide customers to the relevant web pages or video content making up-sell or cross-sell far more effective. However, to achieve this level of integration directors of marketing and customer service need to co-operate, as do business systems such as CRM, collaboration tools and telephony solutions.

Embrace social media using this five-point plan and your contact centre will be transformed into a highly interactive customer engagement centre that demonstrably drives service and business excellence.

For additional information see Intelecom’s Company Profile

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