Think of the companies out there that do social customer service really well.
I bet big names like Amex, Nordstrom and Verizon come to mind, as well as younger brands like Jetblue or Zappos.
Why do you think these companies invest in social customer service? I’m sure the answer is multi-faceted, but it probably has a lot to do with the ROI.
According to a 2014 report from Aberdeen Group, companies with a social care program simply do better than their counterparts.
Companies with social care experience see a 5.6% YoY increase in first-contact resolutions, 6.5% increase in agent productivity, and a 17.5% increase in SLA attainment. These companies also see fewer customer complaints year over year. Few complaints means fewer unhappy customers, which leads to perhaps the biggest ROI for social customer care: customer retention.
Companies with a social care program experience a 7.5% YoY increase in customer retention – those without only see a change of 2.9%. And as we all know… the more customers you keep, the healthier your bottom line. We all know that it’s five to seven times cheaper to keep a customer than to acquire a new one.
With that said, doing social customer care right goes beyond just responding on Twitter or Facebook. You need to create an infrastructure that supports scale and is strong enough to withstand crises.
Here are just four things you might want to consider in building out your social customer care program.
- Know Your (Un)happy Customers
Social media used to be a channel of last resorts – when people were so fed up that they would turn to the web to vent. Now, social is one of the first touchpoints for the progressive brands. Most customers are engaging on your brand’s social media channels before they even pick up the phone. This behavior presents brands with the opportunity to resolve issues before they escalate. But the first step is being aware of these conversations.
Whatever technology you use, make sure you have access to well-organized monitoring dashboards. Monitoring dashboards are the most foundational requirement for brands managing inbound conversations across multiple accounts. Whether your purpose is customer service or marketing, there is no easier way to see what’s being said across multiple channels. The dashboards aggregate your brand mentions at a macro-level view. #NoTweetLeftBehind
To go beyond conversations targeted “@” your brand – and proactively look at all conversations that could be occurring about your brand – you also need social listening. It keeps you aware of all online mentions of your brand or competitors across hundreds online sources such as social media, news sites, blog posts, videos, and more. It helps your company anticipate and manage negative scenarios before they escalate into a crisis.
- Communicate Well
It’s imperative that your customer service team, or any team engaging with customers online in a public way for that matter, receives consistent training on how to communicate externally on behalf of your brand.
So, ask yourself:
- Is customer service a part of your social media playbook? Conversely, is there a social media section of your customer service handbook and related training materials?
- Are there tests in place to ensure that individuals meet a basic criteria of understanding in terms of communication before they are given access to social media as part of their jobs?
- Is there one brand voice consistent across every location, team, and department at your company?
- Is there another pair of eyes on social messages or some level of governance?
- If you already have a social care team in place, are team members outside of that team trained to take over, if necessary?
- Are multiple departments invested in social care and working from the same platform?
You should be able to answer “YES” to all of the above questions.
- Streamline and Personalize Your Engagement
With thousands, sometimes millions, messages coming through every day, you need to streamline communications. To do so, enable the following functionalities in your social media management platform:
- Customizable approval paths: Depending on the industry, company, and sensitivity of the message, multiple stakeholders might be involved in the message approval. Your social media platform should have approval paths that can be customized to fit your company’s specific needs. At the same time, it should be scalable enough to include multiple departments, so that all approvals can take place in one environment.
- Message history: This feature allows you to be aware of past conversations an individual has had with your brand. So if “John Doe” reaches out to you on Twitter, you’ll also be able to see how he’s interacted with your brand before, including other social channels. This will enable you to provide a more personalized response.
- Audience identification: In addition to conversation history, you’ll also want to create custom profile descriptions of your social audience to provide additional context. This can be achieved through profile tags. Profile tags can be customized to reflect what you need to know about your community – e.g. industry, interests, age group, location, annual spending, products mentioned, relationship with the brand, and so on.
- CRM integration: The people interacting with your brand on social media are often the same ones interacting with your brand in real life. Uniting your social media platform with your traditional CRM system is necessary to link social profiles with customer information. This way, you’ll know that “John Doe” isn’t just someone posting on your Facebook page… he’s also a loyal customer.
- Pre-approved content repository: A social asset manager (SAM) is recommended for global organizations that need to share content assets across multiple teams and regions. It’s essentially a library of pre-approved content that anyone (with the right permissions, of course) can access. Rather than creating new items from scratch and going through the approval process every single time, you can simply pick, customize as you please, and use.
- Integration with your paid social media: The worst thing you can do when a customer complains about your product/service is to serve her with a promoted post. Unfortunately, this will happen if your paid efforts aren’t integrated with your day-to-day social media management functions. Integration across paid, earned, and owned social media in one platform enables you to create automatic rules that prevent users who have raised complaints from being targeted with ads.
- Evaluate and Optimize in Real-Time
Like all initiatives, the success of your social customer care program depends heavily on your ability to sustain and improve it. There are certain capabilities that you’ll need for optimization.
- SLA reporting dashboard: How many customer care cases are being resolved? How long does it take for your team to reply? Do your reply rates improve over time? You need SLA dashboards to see your progress in resolving customer problems/inquiries.
- Audit trail: An audit trail is necessary for a couple reasons. It allows you to see which agents replied to what, and how they’re replying, which you can use to uncover learning opportunities. Audit trails also provide documentation of your social interactions. Even if a message is deleted on the native channel, your audit trail will store the contents in your platform. This is vital when complications arise.
- Tagging: You should be tagging all incoming messages. This will enable you to see what topics are most relevant to your community. If most of your inbound messages related to customer service issues, this would reflect in your reporting and help identify gaps in resources. In addition to inbound tagging, you should also be tagging your outbound messages. This will allow you to see what types of content resonates with your audience. You’ll know for sure if they really prefer videos over the written word, if they like webinars or in-person events, and so on. The more you tag, the more valuable insight you’ll have into your customers’ needs and prospects’ preferences.
These are just some of the things you should consider. If you are interested in knowing more on the topic, take a look at this whitepaper which offers practical tips and case studies on social customer care done right.
Originally appeared on Forbes