Having been a partner of Incite Group’s Customer Service Summit since its inception, I came expectant to what 2015’s conference would have in store.
For me, the key theme of 2014’s summit was centered around who owned social customer service internally. Be it marketing, customer service, communications and PR or a hybrid of all three. A topic that I personally feel is well discussed. Who “owns” social service doesn’t really matter to the customer, rather just that it happens. Therefore it was great to hear how the debate had moved on, becoming more developed around end-to-end strategy.
A Mature Social Service Experience
Over the last year not only has the customer’s expectations changed, but social has matured requiring the same disciplines as traditional channels. In the age of the empowered customer, having a well thought-out and strategic approach to social customer service is critical. Customer service is finally being unlocked as a brand-building powerhouse. No longer seen as begrudged cost and necessary evil, big and small companies from all industries are finding ways to use service to differentiate themselves. We all know this...none of this is new...but what became clear over the two days are that challenges still exist.
Empathy Plus Action
The opening keynote by our own CEO Joshua March, alongside Dan Moriarty, Director of Digital Strategy and Activation for Hyatt Hotels set the tone for the entire event.
According to Dan social customer service: “Is less about ownership, but what your skill set is, and where the resources are to overcome your challenge. We have to work together to tackle problems.”
It’s no surprise that a multinational hotel corporation like Hyatt puts such a priority on making their guests happy—and, they have a novel approach:
“We don’t see ourselves as a hospitality company. We see ourselves as providing care. We try to understand why you’re staying with us, and help you be the best at what you do while you’re there. It’s not service, but care. Empathy + action = care.”
This means really listening-to and acting on your customers’ preferences, down to the smallest details. When it comes to mastering customer service, it’s that kind of empathy that is key, according to Dan:
“Empathy is different for each person. It’s about teaching employees to have a conversation, to record preferences, and to act on them in a way that isn’t creepy—not saying, ‘Welcome, I see you like green apples!’.”
The Art of First Contact Resolution
Josh March, CEO of Conversocial, who works with a lot of brands, had a wide angle view of where modern companies are succeeding with service, and where they aren’t.
“The question you need to ask is, are you offering a real resolution on social? Too many companies are responding, but not fixing issues. Too many companies push customers from social to private channels, or are unable to take private details. However, there’s a massive amount of data that says first contact resolution is a huge contributor to a positive customer experience.”
However, Josh also believes customer service has come a long way, and has never been better setup for success.
“Teams of agents are more highly powered. They have real responsibility and respect within the enterprise, which they never had before. How do you scale 10 skilled, smart agents to 100? It’s easy to work with a crack team, but growing that investment and making it pay off is a whole other proposition. I hope that customer service continues to become a more empowered, highly trained part of the business.”
There were a lot of topics discussed over the two days, but for me the underlying themes where people, process and technology and how getting these right lay the foundations for success.
Get the personal correct and you are onto a winning formula right? But it is rare to come across a traditional customer service team that is perfectly suited to the demands of social media. On social, agents become brand ambassadors and therefore need to possess all the skills that come with a public-facing role, on top of the skill sets needed to be a great agent over traditional channels like phone and email. What was apparent that with the right training, internal framework and attitude you can create an environment that encourages empathy, critical to real resolutions.
If the people are driving the success of a social customer service operation, process is there to steer them in the right direction. Even the most social companies need to know what is successful and what is not in dealing with customer issues. This theme too was one which will likely lead to additional conversations as social customer service further responds to the changing nature of communications. How do we define success in this area? Is it in response time or customer responses? Can the data be quantified and then auctioned to within the social care structure? These were some of the top questions being asked throughout the two days. I think for many this still ties to incorporating social into your traditional contact center stack. The holy grail of a 360 view of the customer (although I feel I have been talking about this since the dawn of social service….).
For me this was THE key theme. More than ever the companies in the room seemed plugged into the effects that Facebook Messenger is going to have, how mobile messaging will impact live chat and how Twitter DM length change has tweaked tone of voice. The market is taking bigger and bigger strides forward, forward thinking companies are facing these new customer touch points head on. This means Conversocial has to keep stride also, something that personally gets me out of bed in the morning.
Until next time #CSMCS….
— Harry Rollason (@H_Rollason) October 23, 2015