Social messaging conversations per month
Incoming messages Facebook and Twitter
Average response time
Social media offers a new way for customers to share information and opinions. Barclaycard recognised that if it wasn’t actively listening to these conversations then it couldn’t hope to understand what its customers really thought about the brand. Barclaycard saw that it was missing an opportunity to shape its services and products according to direct customer feedback and was also potentially exposing itself to reputation risk by not meeting complaints or misconceptions head-on.
The Barclaycard Media Relations team was tasked with instigating and managing a social media strategy with a focus on issue identification and gathering customer insight; at the time there was no systematic process for responding to issues raised on social. The team had, however, engaged in customer conversation in an ad hoc way—even managing to generate positive online PR after helping disgruntled customers.
The brand identified three core social media needs: heading off issues before they escalated, improving its reputation and servicing customers. In order to meet those needs, a more formalised approach to social customer service was needed.
“Social customer service, like every other aspect of external business communications, is impacted by current legislation. A prime example of this is in the finance industry, where it is business critical to understand the laws that govern customer service engagement on social before implementing a social care strategy. It is essential that financial institutions recognize, understand and work within these constraints to deliver an integrated social customer service strategy. Any business seeking to gain a happy consumer base needs to be aware of exactly what is, and what is not, permitted by the current legislation.”
Conversocial CEO & Founder
Creating a dedicated team: The Media Relations team was small, meaning that sudden spikes in the volume of incoming messages could cause resourcing issues. At the same time, the existing customer service team lacked the PR experience to manage the reputational side of things. Implementing a strategy where issues were passed between the two departments would have created additional overheads for the company so Barclaycard created a hybrid Social Engagement Team, specially trained to be able to handle all aspects of social media support.
Finding the right people to represent your brand: The agents for the Social Engagement Team were sourced from the existing Barclaycard customer support teams. They were specially selected for demonstrating the right skills and aptitudes for social media, and they underwent extensive training to ensure they could offer not only customer
They also demonstrated the soft skills needed to handled social media customer support: confidence, tact, judgment, insight, empathy, creativity and humour and the aptitude to help grow the team. Training covers social media best practice and etiquette, PR, processes and guidelines, tools, measurement and reporting and even Twitter simulation training where agents draft responses to example tweets to test their ability to cope under pressure with a range of issues.
Today, the team manages two distinct brands—Barclaycard and Bespoke Offers—across Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Google Plus. It strives to deliver the best customer service possible—traditionally and through social media—without letting anything hold it back, not even the heavily regulated nature of the finance industry.
Maintaining compliance in social customer service: Barclaycard has to ensure that its communications satisfy the pillars of social media compliance as outlined by the Financial Conduct Authority:
Barclaycard’s Social Engagement Managers must be able to resource the social customer service as efficiently as possible and demonstrate value alongside other service channels such as phone and email— all while delivering a great customer experience. Barclaycard achieves this by measuring metrics such as sentiment, assigning incoming messages to categories and maintaining strict SLAs.
Sentiment: Qualitative assessment of customer satisfaction based on the tone and content of individual messages makes it possible to analyse the level of service being delivered, as well as the impact of any changes implemented (such as releasing a new credit card offer). In July 2014, 83% of activity was
Categorising inbound content: For Barclaycard, it is imperative that they are able to break down each piece of content into a tag so that the team can provide analysis to appropriate business leaders on how the service is performing.
The Social Engagement team not only provides high-level analysis but also instigates important changes in the business by using this analysis. For example, changes were made to the automated telephone system earlier this year as a result of commentary. The order in which certain messages were delivered was not well received by customers who then complained on social media, so results were presented to the telephony owner and it was changed.
Maintaining Service Level Agreements: A strong internal SLA for response time ensures consistency, both among agents and for social customer service operations as a whole. It allows managers to monitor agent performance and customer satisfaction. In May 2014, Barclaycard Facebook and Twitter channels saw just under 8,000 incoming messages. Despite this increase in volume, it still managed to maintain a First Response Time of less than 30 minutes for all interactions.
For Barclaycard, social customer service is viewed on equal par with traditional channels, such as telephone and email. Telephone is still the largest channel, followed by email then social. Aligning these metrics gives a wider view of product discussions.
To make its social customer service consistent and efficient, Barclaycard tied it to its existing processes for customer service as far as possible. Additionally, Barclaycard worked closely with the PR team to manage reputation and gain customer insight. It engaged directly with the FCA to ensure processes for complaints handling tied into existing compliance procedures within the social media framework, as well as the wider business. Finally, they employed a dedicated social solution, allowing them to deliver the best social customer service experience possible.
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