Social Media & the Customer Experience

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Social Media & the Customer Experience. Hello, my name is @ SITatSafeco . How can I assist you today?. What Ive Been Taught. When asked What are the principles to customer service and positive customer experience? Answer: Listen Express empathy Resolve the issue - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


Social Media & the Customer Experience

Social Media & the Customer ExperienceHello, my name is @SITatSafeco. How can I assist you today?

I chose this topic mainly because of my experience as a technical support representative with AT&T which terminated earlier this year. I have some topics and examples using AT&T and why customer service via SM would not have worked with my department. (Maybe Im taking a cheap shot at them as a disgruntle employee.)

So rather than opening a call with: Thank you for calling AT&T, my name is Sam Takeda. How can I assist you today?. With social media, it could look something like Hello, my name is (insert twitter handle). How can I assist you today?

1What Ive Been TaughtWhen asked What are the principles to customer service and positive customer experience?

Answer:ListenExpress empathyResolve the issue

These same principles apply in any social media conversation.

My core experience throughout my professional career has always been: Provide a Positive Customer Experience.

When I was asked what are the three principles to good customer service, a career coach provided me the following.

Always listen to the customer, never interrupt, ask probing questions to better understand the issue.

Always express empathy, Im sorry you are experiencing issues with your phone, Ill be happy to assist you.

Resolve the issue. If youre not qualified (trained) to resolve the issue, personally get someone who is. Dont have the customer look elsewhere.

These same principles applies in Social Media.2Ways Customers are Communicating

A recent survey by Nielsen Online showed that social networks and blogs are now the fourth most popular online activity, ahead of personal email.Customers or consumers have many ways to communicate to the brand and others on your product and services.

Research shows social media channels (Twitter, FB & Blogs) are now the forth most popular online activity, surpassing email3Real World ComparisionClosed ConversationOpen conversationOne-to-One interactionOnline agents required to respond to call or IM chat. SMEs unable to engage immediately.No opportunity to take conversation to another channel.Limited capability to create knowledgebase to share internally & externally.One-to-ManyAgents can choose which conversation to engage in. SMEs can engage directly.Opportunity to DM customer to continue conversation over private channel.Source of knowledge and experience to leverage.Social media provides opportunities for customers to author own content, share experiences and add to the overall knowledge base of a brands product or services.

Brands need to recognize those opportunities to develop a knowledge base and leverage its customer service activities to deliver the contents when called upon.4Real World ComparisionWhat It Looks LikeClosed ConversationOpen conversationCall Center = Cost CenterSubject to wait time.Longer Average Handle Time (AHT) to resolve issue. One and done. No further involvement by agent.No public identity for others to relate with.

Call Center = Branding ToolImmediate response from agent.Minimal handle time to resolve issue.Able to see impact to other customersAbility to provide public, transparent face to your customer service.From my experience with Enterprise Data Help Desk (EDHD) with AT&T, we were perceived to be a helpdesk to helpdesk support organization for enterprise customers. More as a value-added service rather than the normal call center that other subscribers would be routed to.

As the acronyms changed (ETS, MMC) so did the perception of AT&Ts management. At the end, we were seen as a call center which meant that we were a cost center to the company. As management looked to reduce cost of doing business, decision was to eliminate the call center in Washington and consolidate all MMC activity to New Jersey.

In an open conversation model (using social media), call center agents become an asset to the brand, opportunities to collaborate with Sales and Marketing become possible.

Unlike making a call to customer service and navigate though an IVR only to be placed on prolonged hold before speaking to an agent, inquiries through Twitter/FB can be monitored, directed to the appropriate agent and the engagement begins. Also, since conversations through Twitter/FB are concise, total amount of time to resolve an issue is greatly reduced compared to a one-on-one phone transaction. This can lead to a reduction in cost per transaction and lead to greater productivity per agent.

Also, brand reputation is greatly enhanced through open conversation. Other customers with similar issues can see the results of a successful resolution. Customers would be more willing to pass on to others a positive experience. When a phone transaction is completed, its usually an one and done event.5Ask YourselfHow will you receive traditional and social media requests for help? Perform a social media audit to understand where your customers are talking about products like yours, and set up a monitoring system attuned to those platforms.How will you triage your social media messages?How will you route and escalate your social media messages?How is that different (or not) from how you treat traditional e-mail and phone support?How much automation do you want?Do you use a hub-and-spoke system? If so, who is the hub your social media manager or community manager?Are you giving Twitter responsibilities to existing phone and e-mail support reps, or are you hiring specific Twitter response teams? (This will largely depend on the volume of mentions you have and the size of your business.)How do they work with the rest of the customer service organization?You also need to track workflow statistics on messages social as well as traditional and relate them to your success metrics. You need to have a unified reporting dashboard that integrates statistics for both kinds of support.

Ask these questions to identify social media channel for your customer service over your traditional channels.

Answers to these questions will further illustrate the additional investment needed to be a player in this channel. There is a need to invest in training agents, new CRM applications etc. Then theres the cost to monitor and perform analytics required to show effectiveness of the channel that upper management would need to consider for there bottom line.6ConsiderationsAn army of social-media watchers may prove to be a very expensive undertaking for a tech company focused on the bottom line.

Ensure that social media integrates into the overall customer care strategy. In other words - you need to make sure one hand of your customer care strategy knows what the other hand is doing to ensure a cohesive, effective system.These were two quotes I found interesting. If I were to apply this to my experience at AT&T, I would say we would not have succeeded using social media channels to support our enterprise customers.

Besides our internal dilema, communications and information delivery been technical support, billing and sales were not consistent. Each had its own application to record transactions from customers and they did not talk to each other. Even our service ticketing applications were unique.7Perceived ROIAlthough on its face, it appears that customer care through social media can generate sufficient cost savings through:Elimination of call centersPrimary applications are free

Companies are realizing that the opposite are true:Call center personnel can enhance the brand to those that still choose this channelTwitter & FB are free, but to monitor, filter and analyze the feed is a costly endeavorAs social media became more dominant in the business community, it can easily be perceived as a cost saver. Eliminate call centers in favor of placing agents on the frontline though Twitter/FB.

As companies investigate diligently the use of social media, they begin to realize that call centers cannot be eliminated, but agents can be more involved in the brand by continuing to resolve issues for customers that choose to call into the centers, make callers aware of the alternate channels available to them and be an authority on knowledgebase content that can be distributed across multiple channels.

An organization would need to weigh the costs associated with investment in social media tools to monitor, filter and deliver content to the correct department against the advantages of building a stronger knowledgebase, having customer care, sales and marketing speaking as one community rather than silos within the company.8Other ChallengesHow effective would Social Media be for the support needs of mission critical and first respondent customers ?

Will more product and service providers go onboard with the new approach to CS or will they stay the status quo and remain open to public ridicule?

Is there a way to incorporate SM to immediately address an issue experienced by a mission critical or first respondent customer or should centers like AT&Ts MMC group still have an existence in the new world of customer service?

Will we see more companies jump onboard? We see Microsoft & Starbucks being successful at this, are others willing to make the investment and commitment to its employees and customers that this is a new flavor of providing positive customer experience, not a replacement to current established channels.9SummaryPromoting a positive brand image and solving customer problems with less cost than phone or email service.

Better customer relations management to enhance sales and marketing opportunities.An organization would have to be looking at a long-range forecast, before seeing any positive ROI on using SM as a tactic for providing cost effective customer service.

However, the payback of positive brand image, solving issues at lower cost per transaction, gaining of knowledge base content at no cost to the organization and enpowering customers, customer service, sales and marketing on development of new products is a benefit management cannot ignore to remain competitive in their marketplace.

10ReferencesRightNow-- Customer Service meets social media ttp:// PCWorld Tech Support goes Social (article) Parr, Ben (2009/05/09), HOW TO: Use Twitter for Customer ServiceRetrieved from, Maria (2010/06/29), HOW TO: Better Serve the Social Media CustomerRetrieved from, Roberto (2011/05/05), HOW TO: Build a Mobile App for Better Customer SupportRetrieved from



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