Tuesday Jun 24, 2014

Wait, What? Social Customer Service Has to Work?

There goes Oracle again, trying to make life easier for brands that are trying to make customers’ lives easier.  This time it’s about customer service, and from everything we’ve learned about social customer service, it’s one of the prime reasons people connect to brands on social at all.

Oracle has an agreement to acquire LiveLOOK. Already an integrated part of the Oracle Service Cloud, over 100 Oracle customers are using it for real-time visual collaboration, co-browsing, and screen sharing. You can see how that plays into customer service.

Let’s say I’ve got a problem. (Don’t get smart with me, this is just an example). I can try to describe what I’m experiencing to a customer service agent who may or may not get what I’m saying, then try to figure out what they’re telling me despite what I see on my screen. OR…we can connect and show each other on-screen what we’re talking about. Easier. Faster. More efficient. Less frustrating. More productive.

Because the Oracle Service Cloud is part of the Oracle Customer Experience Cloud, which includes Commerce, Sales, Service, Social and Marketing clouds, we’re talking about an opportunity for competitor-crushing customer experiences from the first to the last touch-point. Of course, brands have to seize that opportunity, especially in social customer service.

And so far…eh.

Interest in social selling is high. Interest in social serving, not so much, although it’s better than it was. Brands have learned they must be where customers are, and customers are on social. They know a non-form letter response is expected, and sooner than what’s considered “normal” in corporate-land.

But look, if customer service is tough to do really well with call centers, responding on social to customers’ needs en masse, but personally, and in as close to real-time as possible, is a tall order. Some argue brands shouldn’t even try it, that people on social with problems should get routed elsewhere. And a NICE Systems study found phone is preferred for customer service by 88%, with Millennials the least interested in using social for it.

Hm. Is that because that’s how people want to get customer service, or because their experiences with social customer service to date have been so poor it’s regarded as an undesirable channel for it?

However, you won’t want to be too quick to forfeit the positives of social customer service. A BI Intelligence report says social customer management doubles the percentage of sales leads that result in actual sales, relative to traditional CRM approaches. McKinsey says 71% of consumers who got good social service are likely to recommend the brand to others. In other words, do it right, and there are payoffs.

Doing it right means:

  • Satisfying the customer’s hunger for a true advocate inside the brand.
  • Having expertise from all lines of business represented on the social care team.
  • Customer-centricity or bust. How would you handle the interaction if it were your mother?
  • Using the right tools. Without a hot social management and listening platform, you don’t have a chance.
  • Customers being able to count on you for an eventual answer. People have HUGE abandonment issues.
  • Being clear (and public) about what you did for them.
  • Making it happen on mobile as cleanly as on laptop or desktop.

We look forward to our expanded integration of LiveLOOK’s technology and know that it will lead to even more winning customer service experiences for Oracle customers.

@mikestiles @oraclesocial
Photo: freeimages.com

Tuesday Apr 22, 2014

I Won’t Be Ignored: Why We Want Customer Service on Social

bad social customer serviceAdmit it.  Sometimes in the dark of night, when you’re alone and no one is looking, you gripe about how annoying those people who expect customer service on social are. They get in the way of how corporations wanted to do customer service: “Your call is very important to us, please continue to hold.”

Prior to the expectations social customer service brought, it seemed like the goal of most customer service was to actually break down the customer and frustrate them out of wanting help at all, supported by a brand attitude of, “Wow, you sure seem mad. But what are you gonna do about it?”

Along came social, and suddenly they actually could do something about it. We want customer service on social because:

It’s faster…or at least it should be.

53% reaching out to a brand for service on Twitter expect a response within an hour. 32% expect a response within half an hour. And 57% expect the same response time on nights & weekends as during business hours. Sitting on hold for 30 minutes on the phone is regarded as an abuse that older folk had to endure, but that’s no longer tolerable. In fact, J.D. Power tells us 18 to 29-years-olds are more likely to use your social for customer service (43%) than for marketing stuff (23%).

It connects us to a human.

We’re a generation that’s fine with automation and letting robots help us…to a point. What the bots lack is the ability to project caring or a personal investment in the resolution of our problem. It’s hard to have a relationship with automation, but when a community manager saves the day, the customer feels like they have a hero inside the brand. That’s relationship building.

It acknowledges my problem is not like “all the others.”

FAQs and reams of self-help pages project that you, the customer, are nothing special and neither is your problem. It’s a problem someone else has had, and there’s an answer. All you have to do is shut down your work and devote as much time as necessary to finding it. If you find it, hopefully the generalized solution will actually apply to your specific situation. If not, it’s off to the user forums, where the advice you get might take days, and may or may not come from someone who actually knows what they’re talking about. The extent to which brands try to keep from interacting with you makes quite an impression.

It more aggressively seeks to resolve my problem.

55% of customers get frustrated if they have to repeat the same info several times to several different people. 65% get frustrated if they have to contact the brand twice for the same issue. Managers of brand social channels know they have no such luxury to put a customer on ice or pass them around like a hot potato. The public is watching the interaction, so there must be a timely, happy ending to each customer service story. Integration into CRM systems helps make that happen.

It empowers and sets us up to publicize mistreatment.

American Express says the average number of people a social customer will tell about a good customer experience is 42. The average number of people they’ll tell about a bad experience is 53. Increasingly, customers feel it’s nothing short of their duty to warn people about you. 58% are more likely to share their customer services experiences now than 5 years ago.

It empowers and sets us up to publicly express pride in the brands we like.

Likewise, your customers want to be happy and proud to be associated with you. In addition to the advocacy and the help marketing your company, when you execute good service on social, those delighted customers spend 20% to 40% more with you. Take that to the next social ROI conversation with your boss.

So splash that customer service email or phone number everywhere you want. Force people into fix-it-yourself trees or open forums. People are still going to go on your social channels seeking customer service. Questions on Facebook Pages alone are up 85% over last year. And if the experiences don’t match up to modern expectations, you’re largely in the disappointment business.


70% of Marketing departments are involved in social, compared to a mere 19% of Customer Service departments – Ragan

@mikestiles @oraclesocial
Photo: Belovodchenko Anton, freeimages.com

Tuesday Sep 10, 2013

Are Your Customers Attacking or Helping You?

sour lookNow that we know consumers have been empowered thanks to social and mobile, we should probably consider how they’re going to use that power.  I believe it was Spider-Man’s uncle who taught us, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Will customers use it for good or to make trouble for you? The answer likely rests on how well you’re executing customer service and organizing around the customer experience.

On a September 19th free webinar, Oracle’s Erika Brookes sits down with “Attack of the Customers” author Paul Gillin for a chat about why critics assault brands online and how that can be avoided. It’s important. Because from Gillin’s perspective, most organizations are woefully behind both in shifting to customer-centric practices and in extending social across the enterprise to every customer touch point.

Why should these things be priorities? Survival is one good reason. Consider Gillin’s example of lean, finely textured beef, or as it became publicly branded, pink slime. The movement against it began on social. Because the industry took its cues from what was covered in the traditional media, they never saw it coming. Gillin says the largest maker almost went bankrupt, and the 2nd largest did go bankrupt within months.

Businesses can no longer afford not to listen to customers, wherever they may be congregating and talking about you. Jeff Bezos has called what’s going on “word of mouth on steroids.” And brands are not in control of these conversations, social users are. Bloggers are. Customers are. The best a brand can do is be where the conversations are happening and participate in them. Unhappy customers, who have experienced a bad product or abuse/neglect can and will find each other very quickly. Consequently, customer neglect as standard practice is becoming terminal.

And yet…58% of consumers have tweeted about a bad brand experience and never received a response of any kind. Mind you this is happening at a time when especially Millennials fully expect customer service on social. If they hold you accountable for it, thank them. People criticize because they want you to be better. It’s a positive. If you listen and co-create with those who care enough to “attack,” you’ll survive…and win.

Attack coverThese vocal, social consumers are forcing evolution inside organizations. Marketing is becoming analytics-driven, making it IT’s responsibility to align and facilitate. But here too, Gillin believes only about 2% of enterprises are appropriately socially enabled across departments. He feels most CIO’s still view social as a problem, a security threat, and a time waste.

For those who are forward thinking and who are willing to change and adapt as quickly as the consumer, integrated social insights from a social relationship management platform will lead to powerful, targeted engagements and actions, and thus, superior consumer experiences.

So, do you regard consumer criticism as an attack or an assist? Are your brand’s policies truly customer focused, or are they coming from a purely defensive posture? Tune in to the webinar to get Gillin’s four types of customer aggressors and how to deal with them, as well as three immediate customer experience action items for businesses both large and small.

Photo: stock.xchng


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