Getting Started with Social Customer Service

Guest Blogger: Aphrodite Brinsmead, Senior Analyst at Ovum

In my last blog I talked about the value of using social channels to support your customer service efforts.  Here I’ll talk about understanding the most relevant social media tools and how to handle queries and issues.

The first step is recognizing the types of social media that are most valuable for your organization. This can be overwhelming since social tools include photo, video or music sharing apps, comments and ratings on retail sites, blogs and messaging services. However, three mediums prevail as the most relevant for social customer service today:

  • Facebook is probably the most valuable. Usage is high and many businesses have already set up Pages for marketing purposes. Customers can ask questions to peers as well as send questions and feedback to businesses via wall posts or private messages.

  • Twitter, like Facebook, offers a simple platform for customers to vent about issues or reach out directly to a brand. The majority of comments are public because direct messages are only allowed if the two parties are ‘following’ one another. Twitter is an ideal forum for complaints and quick questions. Posts must short (less than 140 characters) and information flow is very fast.

  • Forums are also useful for customer service. Enterprise-managed forums require customers to be authenticated before posting, and organizations can then match users with exiting customer records. Information on these sites relates specifically to products or brands and queries are often answered by peers rather than the organization itself. Enterprises can link to this crowd sourced knowledge from within Twitter and Facebook to provide a more detailed explanation of a resolution.

The technology stack

Social media monitoring is the starting point for any organization. And while this has typically been implemented by marketing, customer service teams also need to be aware of posts and interactions in order to determine when to reach out and offer support. As the number of social interactions increases, it is important to automatically pull relevant social posts into the contact center using one of the many social monitoring platforms.

In addition to monitoring, enterprises looking to implement social customer service solutions require tools that will help them to route and manage interactions as they do voice and email. As more customers turn to social for support, customer service organizations will need better technology to help them handle and manage large numbers of Tweets, Facebook posts, reviews and comments. As shown in the graphic below, the stepped process for managing social interactions consists of:

  1. Categorize: Enterprises need to extract relevant and actionable messages from among personal tweets and noise. They should set rules in order to group interactions into categories which could include: product, website, technical or billing.

  2. Route and queue: Based on the categorization groups, interactions can then be sent to the most suitable agent to handle the response.

  3. Answer: Enterprises should train agents with the types of response they believe to be most relevant for common queries, creating guidelines that help agents to respond appropriately.

  4. Escalate: In some instances social interactions will need to be completed in another channel, particularly where private details or booking information needs to be disclosed.

  5. Store and manage: Similarly to queries across alternate channels, social interactions should be recorded and where possible tied to a customer record.

  6. Analyze: Post interaction analysis is just as important for social media as with other channels. By using text analytics and natural language understanding enterprises can pinpoint trends to find common issues based on historical social communications and prevent issues before they escalate.

Finally, social media should not be seen as a siloed channel. Language can be more colloquial, the customer user base may have a slightly different profile and the queries may be simpler but this doesn’t mean social should be neglected from your customer service strategy. Interactions need to be pulled into the agent desktop and handled in a timely manner alongside traditional communications. Customer issues should be resolved with minimal effort from the customer, and agents equipped to answer a question in social or provide an option to speak with a customer in another channel.

You can follow me on twitter @diteb.

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