A few times a year we gather together a select number of our customers who are #SocialFirst enterprises in one room, creating a sort of think tank about the current state of and future of social customer service. These Customer Advisory Boards (CABs) consist of brands from an array of industries, but all with the same goal - to provide outstanding social customer service. In October we hosted CABs in New York and London. This environment always fosters inspiration within our organization, and this meetup was no exception.
The main themes that presented themselves over and over were people, process and, of course, tech. One overarching topic seemed to weave in and out of all of our conversations - humanity at scale. As customer experience is becoming the main competitive differentiator, companies are hustling to create an environment that is convenient yet inviting to their customers. The human touch is the disruptive chord that resonates with customers and creates a distinctive experience.
The Conversation has Changed
In New York our conversations focused on the evolution of social customer service, best practices for crisis management and measurement of social ROI. While in London, we discussed how to manage a social team, what is the “agent of the future” and how to measure social ROI as the channel matures.
Any service channel that dreams of staying relevant, must evolve to meet the behavior and expectations of the market. Our customers are seeing social customer service evolving. There is a definitive shift from internal ownership to scaling properly without losing the essence and appeal of social customer service. Adoption of new channels and the development of our own platform expectedly are having the greatest impact on operations.
The Agent of the Future
Even as social is growing up and becoming less about public venting forums for dissatisfied customers and more of a 1-to-1 service channel, crisis management and agent qualification are big topics. Future-proofing your customer service strategy in social by placing the right resource against the needs of the channel. Volumes are increasing in social media. That,coupled with the growing maturity of social as a contact for customers is forcing agents and solutions alike to scale to match this growth.
Hiring the right agent seems to be key for most of our customers. Regardless of the vertical, one truth rang true, agents carry an important role and must be able to cope, whether in a crisis or simple daily interactions. The sensitization of agent and customer engagements makes a difference. Unanimously our CAB members agreed that these empathetic, versatile and loyal agents are key to successful social media customer service. But what of the agent of the future? What skills will they need to be successful? And how will they deal with the scale of social as mention volumes increase, while still maintain their humanity in their responses?
- Public v. Private Resolution
The rise of private messaging apps such Facebook Messenger being the conduit of a consumer’s conversations with a brand is becoming apparent. We’ve gone full circle, from one-on-one phone conversations, to public tweets, to private in-the-moment mobile messaging.
- Real-Time Responses
Responding in real-time is crucial, as is recognizing the potential in the proactive opportunities of social. There are relationship building opportunities, but also many sales opps.
- Social is Legit
Some of the CAB attendees reported that their email channels have taken a dip in volume, we are continuing to see the strength of social as an established, and human customer service channel.
It’s crucial to have agents with the right skillset working on social. This team is the trusted brand representative to their communities’ customers each and every day. This trust spans from delivering great customer service, maintaining consistency of the brand's values, and staying true to its existing customer service processes when dealing with large volumes of enquiries.
These are the questions that piqued interest and invited the most thoughtful conversation:
- How do you train from outside the contact center for a time of crisis?
Traditionally contact centers are a very standardized place, so we discussed how to influence the contact center with social service insights and practices to align all service initiatives.
- How to escalate and when to escalate?
Tactics to tackle this included: building out behavior escalation procedures, working out when the crisis tipping point is and then know who to communicate this to internally.
- What is the best environment to train your teams for these occurrences?
It was almost unanimous that training in radio silence is the best way to ensure that you get ahead of a crisis. Track it, measure it and if it starts to build up then you tackle it
The Challenge and Opportunity of Social ROI
ROI was an elusive idea since the inception of social customer service. As social has grown up, so have our metrics for measuring the power of social as a legitimate service channel that has a definitive impact on the bottom line of our customers’ business.
Our customers shared incredibly valuable insights:
- Outbound Sales Strategy
By using a proactive search strategy, our customers don’t have to tell prospects to buy - social engagement drives the volume, not the sales messages.
- Cross Company Metric Alignment
Financial metrics that drive growth can determine social strategy. By experimenting with further social tracking and CRM integration some of our customers are creating a better experience for their VIP members.
- The Social Customer Journey
CRM integration is also crucial for tracking the social customer journey. By comparing traditional versus social activity and changes in response times and engagement metrics across channels, our customers are mapping out and accurately denoting value to the social service channels.
The steady cadence driving the ROI conversation was the beat of engagement. This manifests in many ways but comes down to the art of tracking customer sentiment. Trends are detected earlier on social and are often an accurate indicator for the rest of the business on social.
Social at Scale Means More Humanity Not Automation
There is a shift in the world of social service and it’s being driven natively by the behavior of consumers, who want convenience without the expense of humanity. Scaling this unique experience can only be powered through advanced technology, but this is the beauty of our platform. It’s not meant to replace humanity, it merely makes it more accessible and at the most relevant moments.
We are so excited about our latest product release - Facebook Messenger Customer Care. It is one of the biggest opportunities for brands to personalize and humanize their interactions with their customers. Like a trusted friend, business can engage on one of the most used channels in a helpful, in-the-moment experience.
If you want to break through the noise that we are all bombarded with day in and day out, you have to have meaningful interactions with your customers - all of your customers. Our platform is advancing in a way that is making that possible for brands to humanize their service even at a large scale.
As a whole, consumers are being isolated through convenience. The basic human element is void in most of our digital comings and goings. However, in no way should sensitizing service come at the cost of convenience. We are simply bringing the conversation back to commerce through thoughtful, in-the-moment engagements that pierce through our digital shields and operate as a value, as a warm sentiment and as a person.