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The Social Customer Experience: are you adding value?

By Anna Drennan on Oct 18, 2011 5:56:00 PM

Customer experience is only becoming more important as social media breaks down the boundaries between company and customer.

The levelling of the selling playing field as a result of the two-way conversation taking place on social platforms has been much discussed, but rarely in terms of what this means for wider approaches to doing business. The socialisation of the commercial world really brings the customer experience back to the centre of company operations, adding more public touch points to these relationships.

In today’s overcrowded marketplace, no matter what your trade, leaders are moving away from a focus on basic goods and services to deliver rich and compelling experiences. Globally, businesses are focussing not on how to simply reel in new customers, but retain existing ones by securing their loyalty. Moving up the value chain pays off: 85% of consumers say they will pay more to receive outstanding service during a transaction.  Social media is a great opportunity to show customers you’re putting them at the centre of your business and make them feel loved.

Companies are spending more and more time trying to optimise their customers’ experiences of their brand, and reach the top of the value chain.  One method is to use customer journey maps, in order to identify each touch point a customer has with your company. At every touch point, customer experiences and feelings are recorded, to spot opportunities for improvement.

In call centres, forward thinking companies have mapped their callers’ journeys, and identified the factors which have the biggest impact on customer satisfaction.

  1. An agent’s ability to resolve an issue in the 1st call: no need for escalation.
  2. The time it takes for a call to be answered
  3. The agent’s communicative skills
  4. An agent’s access to a customer’s details and contact history.

None of these issues, however, are specific to the call centre - they affect customer satisfaction at all contact points. Our research into the customer service offerings of UK retailers on Facebook revealed that response time was integral to the mood of that community, and personable replies were especially well received.  Personality is especially prevalent in the social world, where brands are expected to be more approachable and accessible. Customers reach out to the company as an entity, rather than a specific department, so the voice of your customer service representatives reflects the experience of your brand at a new level.

In early days, social customer service faces practical obstacles to nailing these areas of customer satisfaction. Accenture investigated the running of a typical call centre, and pointed to potential cost savings of 20-35% that could be made from improved efficiency with the help of technology. Efficiency tied in directly with improved customer satisfaction; getting queries to the right agent immediately not only reduces a customer’s frustration by offering them a quick fix, but saves on resources internally. The same applies for social networks – customers can be responded to quickly if the right agent gets to their query as soon as possible, and the company saves time and money.

Social media managers have long embraced the idea of creating positive user experiences with Facebook and Twitter. The ‘fun theory’, coined by Volkswagen in a competition to find the most exciting ways to influence behaviour, is well established in social media. Happy communities are fostered with questions and conversation pieces to draw fans in, competitions and quizzes offering enticing prizes, and the general notion of personable, social brand images.

But many companies still have much to learn from the call centre approach to customer experience. Delivering great customer service through social media is what your customers want; 2/3 respondents in a survey by Clickfox want to deal with issues via social media. Let’s get the basics right and identify the ways in which to deliver great customer experiences based upon our customers’ pain points. Let’s deliver contentment before we deliver excitement.

Conversocial is designed to enable effective customer support in Facebook and Twitter. If you'd like to learn more about how to plug your customer service team into social media channels, and start delivering great social customer experiences, take a look through what Conversocial has to offer here, or speak to a member of the team sales@conversocial.com

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Topics: Best Practices, Customer Experience, Social Leaders

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