Today we’re releasing our Fourth Edition of The Definitive Guide to Social, Mobile Customer Service.
"A Fourth Definitive Guide?”, you ask. "Does this mean the past three Definitive Guides weren’t really as definitive as we originally claimed?"
Well, no. A lot’s changed in just the past year since our last edition. To celebrate our Fourth Edition of the Definitive Guide, let’s run through four key areas where social customer care has grown—and grown up—in the past year.
1. Continued Customer Adoption, Higher Customer Expectations
Consumer expectations for service via digital channels only continue to increase. According to Mary Meeker’s 2016 Internet Trends Report, customers born after 1981 (today the largest generation, beating out even Baby Boomers) overwhelmingly prefer customer service via social and mobile channels to classic contact methods like phone calls.
But while today’s customers are less likely to call a business, they’re actually more anchored to their phones than ever. In 2016, social and mobile are virtually inseparable, with over 80% of daily active Twitter users being mobile, and roughly the same for Facebook. Bank of America’s annual Trends in Consumer Mobility Report found that 91% of U.S. consumers say their mobile phone is just as important as their car and significantly more important than television (76%) and coffee (60%). Coffee! In other words, we’re living in an age when someone’s iPhone might be as important to them as their Toyota and their Samsung Galaxy even more important than their favorite TV show...or even their caffeine fix.
Needless to say, those who call today’s social customers the “always-on” generation have a point: 38% of customers say they never disconnect from their mobile phones.
It would also be an understatement to say that consumer expectations for service are higher than ever. Two-thirds of adults feel the appropriate response time to a text is under an hour, with 43 percent citing under 10 minutes and 10 percent thinking it should be instantly. Remember that these expectations include responses from friends; one might imagine even less patience when it comes to a pressing customer service issue.
2. From Public to Private: The Rise of Mobile Messaging
While we’ve seen consumer adoption of and expectations for social customer care skyrocket in past years, many brands—especially in regulated industries—have long been hesitant to promote social as a primary care channel because of its public nature, instead forcing customers who need to exchange confidential and private information to more “secure” channels like email, phone and even web chat with secure authentication.
Yet, in the last year we’ve seen social media transform from a channel of primarily public escalation to the contact channel of choice for the private resolution of issues. What’s behind this sudden shift? The rise of social and mobile messaging.
From Facebook Messenger and Twitter DMs to WhatsApp and WeChat, customers have widely adopted social messaging channels for interactions with friends and increasingly, brands. And the rise of private social messaging not only alleviates the hesitance of some brands to fully embrace social, but also enables a mobile first care strategy with low handling times and high customer satisfaction.
3. Social Networks Embrace Their Future As The Future For Customer Care
Behind customer and brand adoption of both public and private social have been innovations from top social networks themselves. Both Facebook and Twitter have placed increased focus on customer care, with both networks aiming to make themselves the go-to service channel:
- Twitter has made a variety of changes in its push for #TwitterFirst customer care, from removing the 140 character limit for Direct Messages to enabling brands to measure customer feedback in-channel. Listen to our conversation with Twitter’s Jeff Lesser about these updates here.
- The majority the changes that Facebook has made have stemmed from its launch of live chat through Messenger, with numerous new ways for brands and customers to start conversations with one another and, as confirmed by Facebook last week, end-to-end encryption of Messenger Conversations. Listen to our conversation with Facebook’s Bryan Hurren about these updates here.
But even bigger than any of these specific changes are the trajectories for innovation on which the top social networks have placed themselves. Both Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg have been vocal about the important role the customer care use case has for the future of both companies. Indeed, it’s safe to assume that the greatest innovations for customer care from the social networks are still to come.
4. Bots and AI — Oh My!
Undoubtedly you’ve already heard about Facebook’s introduction of the ‘Messenger Platform’ at F8, which allows developers and brands to build natural language services to communicate directly with people. What followed was weeks of press about the rise of the bots and AI; after just a few months there are already more than 11,000 bots built on the Messenger Platform.
We know customer care has a bad history with automation. Traditionally, much of this automation was designed to be more efficient for the brand, but not necessarily more useful for the customer. The rise of IVR (Interactive Voice Response) in the late 20th century is a good example of automation often gone bad. In an effort to cut costs per engagement, many brands sacrificed their humanity, instead relying on mechanized voice prompts, convoluted paths of escalation and hours upon hours of hold music.
Where IVR gave power to businesses, AI for mobile messaging can often give power to individual customers. Rather than forcing people to download entire apps for each business or use case, they can simply send messages to “official accounts” or chat bots inside the instant messaging app they already use all day (according to Facebook, users spend an average of 50 minutes a day on the Facebook, Instagram and Messenger platforms). The rise of AI and bots holds the potential to enable speedier issue resolution for basic queries but also a clear, simple escalation path to speak with a human. As a result of all of this, Gartner predicts that by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationships with enterprise without interacting with a human.
So a lot has changed...but how is this Definitive Guide different from past Definitive Guides?
We’ve rewritten and redesigned the guide from the ground up in order to provide you with everything you need to develop social customer service as a scalable and measurable operation, from planning through execution and measurement. The guide aims to address questions from CXOs first learning about the emerging field and from skilled social customer service practitioners alike, mixing high level strategy and market conditions with templates and tactics necessary to scale an operation.
- Hire, train and optimize your social customer care team
- Measure, refine and scale your social care program
- Find the right balance between automation and humanity
- And much, much more!