Social Media is the channel that provides the best opportunity for customer care resolution. Why? Your customers are already there, active and ready to engage.
Welcome to the new age of customer service. Forrester has insightfully deemed this new wave the ‘Era of the Customer.’ Customer experience has taken center stage in a big way. This sometimes fuzzy idea of a happy customer is not just about the ‘softer numbers’ once associated with positive brand sentiment. Rather, a good customer experience has become the main differentiator between companies that are building brand loyalty and those brands that are slowly stagnating into a position of irrelevance.
In the past, customer service resided in the figurative “company cellar,” where brands hid away the departments they felt had less importance. The digital reality of an internet marketplace without borders has made this mindset archaic and even laughable. Now, the customers decide if the experience you are providing them is up to snuff, and guess what? If it’s below par, your customer will move on quickly, leaving a trail of distasteful Tweets and disgusted Facebook posts behind them as they digitally mark your brand with a giant X.
The private customer service issues previously waged over phone, email or live chat – often with an automated inhuman voice on the other end – have moved to the public arena of social. Whereas previously it was common for customers to take to social as a last resort, it is now the channel of choice for many. Companies that have embraced social as a service channel are winning the accolades they deserve, and are pushing the envelope for developing a customer centric strategy.
Social Media customer service is becoming a cornerstone of brand/customer engagement. No longer seen as an immature channel for the disgruntled moaning of dissatisfied customers, platforms such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are reframing what Social Customer Service looks like and how to keep up with ever-ascending bar of customer expectation.
Here is a brief timeline showing the evolution of Social Media from a primarily marketing-manned channel to a viable option for service resolution.
Social has grown up. Even as the social customer has grown and evolved in the manner and tone they connect with others on Social Media, this growth can be seen in brand/customer interactions on these channels as well.
It’s important to have a strategy in place that can answer these socially savvy customers who expect mature responses with reasonable frameworks in place to provide speedy, warm-blooded resolution in-channel. However, don’t let the idea of ‘Social Maturity’ be misconstrued. Social Maturity is not reserved only for massive brands that already have an established customer service machine. Smaller, lesser-known brands can, and should have mature customer service on social as well.
Social volumes - Maturity is not measured by volume of queries. Rather, it is measured by comparing the ratio of queries submitted via social to other channels.
Size of traditional contact center - Brands with already existing legacy channels set up are not necessarily providing a mature Social Media customer experience. Social is not just another customer service channel. It requires best-of-breed tools and a well-trained staff.
Brand equity - Having a ‘well-known’ brand is not necessary either. Even for more obscure, niche brands, Social Customer Maturity is not only attainable, but obligatory.
Social Maturity is more than just showing up on Social Media channels, far more intimate than canned responses and requires more than expensive software.
Here is our checklist for socially mature brands. See where your brand falls in the spectrum and we will help you determine how to move on the Social Maturity grid from a place of complacency or stagnant processes to join the ranks of #SocialFirst™ brands.
Ask yourself the following questions to determine your brand’s Social Maturity:
Is Customer experience a priority across all channels?
Brands who have not yet grasped the important of a powerful customer experience are not even in the game yet. Unless your Social Media Customer Service strategy is powered by an underlying drive to provide an exceptional customer experience, your operation is not built on the foundation needed for Social Customer Maturity.
Is Customer Service driving your social initiative rather than Marketing?
As we mentioned earlier, in the inception of the digital age, businesses on Social were primarily marketing-driven. In the age of the mature Social Customer, it is a viable resolution channel and not merely a bullhorn spreading marketing messages.
Have you invested in a dedicated Social Customer Care solution?
Be warned, not all solutions labeled “Social Customer Care” are created equal. Just because you have employed a technology to support you on Social does not mean it is equipping you to answer Social Media customer queries at scale. A viable solution turns the chaos and noise of Social Media chatter into streamlined threads and queues that are easy to manage, ensuring best-in-class customer service.
Is Social recognized as an equally important service channel to legacy channels?
If your digital customer service architecture has Social Media as a footnote in the grand scheme, you are missing a fundamental understanding of today’s Social/mobile customers. Social Media is increasingly not only a foundational channel your customers turn to for help, but is also slowly overtaking the pillars of what have been considered the mainstays of modern customer service.
Do you resolve in-channel on Social?
On all digital customer service channels, it is best practice to resolve in-channel, forgoing new escalation paths on the road to resolution. Social is no different. If your agents aren’t equipped, either by the technology you employ or the training you embrace, to resolve immediately in-channel when faced with customer questions and demands on Social, you are far from the full maturity of a #SocialFirst™ brand.
Is the tone of your responses more personal than automated?
If your Social Media customer interactions sound like a blaring foghorn that is producing the same monotone sound to every customer, you’re doing it wrong. Your audience on Social Media can smell a fake a mile away and will minimize your effectiveness if you try to feed a corporate, stuffy tone into channels that are designed for authenticity and personal engagements.
Do you find there is cross-departmental collaboration on social channels?
Companies that do not have cross-departmental lines of communication run the real risk of alienating themselves from their customer base. #SocialFirst™ brands not only engage, but listen, too. With social offering the very real market opinion about your goods and services, you need to use what you hear on Social to impact your product, your marketing campaigns and ultimately your corporate image. The solution isn’t to try and combine departments to make one massive department that deals with customers.
Is your Executive Team practicing social media maturity?
#SocialFirst™ is best accomplished when the leadership are the first adopters of a mature social outlook. One of the best examples of this is Sprint’s CEO, Marcelo Claure, who is very active and transparent on Social, and encourages his team to follow suit. This can account for Sprint being one of the earliest adopters of one of the most mature social channels available - Facebook Messenger.
To help brands determine where they fall on the spectrum of Social Maturity, we created the Social Maturity Index (SMI). This is a true evaluation you can use to map out your accurate position on the maturity scale. The ultimate goal is to be a #SocialFirst™ brand. To get there, however, you must have paid the right amount of attention to both Investment and Innovation. An imbalance between either of these axis provides a customer experience on Social that is lacking.
If you are putting the right emphasis on Investment in Social Media Customer Service, it means that you have accepted Social Media as a powerful, growing channel for customer engagement across all departments. True investment in Social Media Customer Service is not only indicated with financial ‘buy-in’ but also through the time invested, manpower allotted and executive attention given.
What are the indicators of full investment in Social Maturity?
A team of dedicated social agents, resourced in relation to volumes
A best-in-class tool for each function of social engagement
Executive visibility into KPIs and performance
Full adoption of technology, cultural practices, and operations throughout the company
Even with all of your ducks in a row on the investment side, you still fall short of the #SocialFirst™ status without a truly innovative outlook on Socal Media Engagement. In fact, when brands who have attained a #SocialFirst™ rating slip, they do so not because of failures on the investment end, but because they stopped innovating. Your Social Customers are constantly evolving and your technology and strategies must keep up.
What are the indicators of robust innovation to extraordinary Social Media experiences?
A cross-company tone of voice on Social that is human and efficient
A proactive Social Customer Service strategy
In-channel resolution for all queries
Early adoption of new channels (e.g Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, etc)
Upserving over Social, contributing to future customer lifetime value
Investment: Low Innovation: Low
Cross company buy-in value of Social Customer Service
Lackluster integration of Social Customer Service into greater service ecosystem
Software not built for ‘best-in-class’
Company regulation choking out progress
Only way to go is up - your customers are waiting
Instead of rebuilding broken social processes, a chance to start fresh/correctly
Reposition brand as early adopter to social channels (even if volumes don’t indicate need)
Investment: High Innovation: Low
The ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ mentality
Need more #SocialFirst™ training
Many conservatives are in a regulated industry
Reposition tone towards resolution
Lack of executive buy-in
Small changes have a big impact on the bottom-line
Instead of only revamping tone for Social Customer Service, make your entire support team #SocialFirst™ minded
Decrease public venting by adopting private messaging channels
Investment: Low Innovation: High
Lack of budget or lack of control of budget
Marketing focused Social Media initiatives
Need help proving value of Social Customer Care to executives who are not #SocialFirst™
Hardest part is already done, you have a #SocialFirst™ strategy
Full investment will have dramatic impact on bottom line
Already cultivating brand advocates - with investment comes scale
Investment: High Innovation: High
Maintaining the right balance of Investment and Innovation to retain #SocialFirst™ status
Early adoption of new products and channels
Further integrations for even fuller view of the customer and increased optimization
Focus on proactive customer service for the ‘low hanging’ revenue of Social Customer Care
It’s time to bring humanity back to the contact center. As legacy channels scaled, so did customer irritation, robotic responses and wait times. Today’s consumers no longer require just resolution, but also meaningful conversations, on the most demanding Social and mobile channels.
Conversocial applies the disciplines of contact center efficiency with the unique dynamics of Social Customer engagement to enable Humanity @ Scale. We continuously innovate to help our clients turn unstructured, chaotic signals into organized, meaningful channels.
We want to work with you to help you provide #SocialFirst™ customer service. Let one of our experts walk you through the Social Maturity Index (SMI) see how you measure up to the competition and learn how we can take you that extra mile.