In the run up to Retail Bulletin's 3rd Customer Loyalty Conference, we thought we'd share some lessons in social customer service taught by example from leading UK retailer, Tesco. Tesco's Leonie Foster will be speaking at this year's conference on the 13th June.
Tesco is known for being at the forefront of new technology and communications; and social media presents no exception. Tesco's social media and customer service teams are industry leaders when it comes to social customer service and engagement.
With a growing operation across multiple contact centres, connecting knowledgeable agents directly with Tesco's customer base, the supermarket giant manages to offer personalised, local service to the industry's biggest fan base in the UK.
Here are a few best practice pointers on how to deliver an effective social customer service program:
Laying out your service hours clearly is nothing out of the ordinary for traditional communication channels, but in social media companies are often leaving their customers in the dark as to what to expect. It’s a quick and easy task to detail ‘opening hours’ for customer assistance on your Facebook timeline or Twitter profile. The Tesco team does this proactively, letting their followers know each day when they can reach them, and even calling out to see if anyone needs help
It’s important to try and keep an issue on the platform it was requested in.This is what the customer expects, and is why they turned to Twitter or Facebook. Redirecting to another channel is more hassle for both the customer and the customer service agent. For sensitive information, there’s no need to turn to email or phone, you can simply use Direct Messages or Facebook private messages. For extra social customer service points, bring the issue public again as soon as you can. When you’ve addressed the relevant details privately, take it back to a tweet or comment. This leaves no one in doubt as to whetheryouactually delivered good service.
Deliver real help on first contact
First contact resolution is the most important factor when it comes to delivering positive customer experiences to those who reach out for assistance. Connecting your entire business to social media means that the knowledge your staff holds across different departments can be shared socially, and quickly. Customers are reaching out on social networks with specific, detailed queries. Tesco puts real service agents with complete knowledge on company products, deals and services so that company replies can offer real value straight away.
A branded Twitter account, connected to head office and the contact centre, doesn’t have to offer generic support. Empowering knowledgeable agents and connecting your support network to the store level allows companies to give intricate and valuable service. Customers are taking specific problems to Twitter, about specific stores, even while they’re still shopping. Connecting your entire business internally is the only way to deliver a complete, relevant solution.
A conversational tone is key when working with social platforms. Tesco has mobilised its customer care line as more than just a clinical route for problems. The team combines real, effective support with friendly conversation, encouraging a community to reach out and engage. It’s important to be very sensitive to customer tone in every message. The audience on a platform like Twitter is diverse, with tweets targeted at both companies and friends. It’s important to understand when to have a sense of humour to avoid spoiling the fun with corporate interference. But it’s equally important to understand when to react more seriously. Consider the best way to add value with every tweet.
All of the above pays off for brands like Tesco. Putting the time in to address customer problems and questions means they’ll make the effort to show appreciation. Turning around a negative into a positive is the biggest advantage social media can bring. An angry customer isn’t simply appeased, but you generate great public recommendations, which are far more valuable than anything you can create yourself. It really is possible to turn someone who is your biggest critic in one moment into a proactive advocator in another.