Reinforcing Customer Service in Social Mediums: #SocialSupport

Large companies are struggling internally to support customers in social channels. Why? It’s a long term commitment, goes against existing support avenues, and is a major cultural shift. I want to kick off an opportunity to tell your story of customer service, why?  If support in these mediums is making your life easier as a customer, it’s important you provide companies with this feedback, so they can add to their internal business case. If you’re a customer, and have been supported, service, helped, or thanked by a company and their employees in social channels, here’s your chance to tell them:

It’s easy, go to Twitter, and Tweet to the brands that have helped you, and tag it #socialsupport.  You can see the river of mentions coming in now.

If you work for a brand monitoring or listening platform company and want to run a report for me, I’ll be happy to post your data findings after a quick review.  While there are very quantitative ways of measuring improved customer satisfaction, reduced response time, and lowered support costs, there’s nothing like good ol’ fashioned qualitative feedback.

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  • Indeed, it is tough change management for enterprises to work out supporting customers through social, especially “off-network” communities they don't host. Several reasons, all are factors and some bigger than others – I'll pick one big one: Wrong metrics.

    Most support orgs are managing to cost, call volume (incidents per unit), first call resolution, minutes per incidents, etc. At an operational level, they manage employees against transactional satisfaction (survey of the experience) and utilization. These metrics are hugely difficult to translate at a PRACTICAL level. Easy to translate at a philosophical level. how do you track utilization? how to measure sat? how do staff to unforcasted volume? How do you add labor to drive reach when your metrics aren't about # of customers served.
    I get that many people will tell me these are easy issues to resolve – change the metrics. They are not – it is not as simple as declare a new metric (as if even that is simple). If you run a multi-thousand person call center operation, the people, process and technology changes underneath this shift are substantial.

    This is huge part of our business. Winning with community support requires a great deal more than launching a community. This is a business process re-engineering effort when you move from pilot to scale.

    Sean O'Driscoll
    Ant's Eye View

  • Sean is absolutely right about this being business process re-engineering. Supporting customers in a distributed and public environment often runs counter to the processes and metrics that businesses have adopted over the years. The good news is that the struggles to adapt are driving the development of new tools to succeed with it.

    But there is also a fundamental re-wiring of consumer expectations. Companies that quickly respond to us on our blogs or social sites (“customer service housecalls”?) reward social media users. This responsiveness makes it increasingly likely people will default to tweeting their complaints (for instance) than using the traditional channels. People can use the path of least resistance for their own communication style, and they'll often to get a faster, more knowledgeable response than using the help desk. It's reasonable to expect that what is a business differentiator today–supporting customers in social channels–will become standard practice in customer support before long.

    This is happening at remarkable speed because it's a co-evolution of business processes and consumer behavior. Each side reinforces the other. Exciting!

    Thor Muller
    Get Satisfaction

  • Thanks Sean, it's great to hear you speak yesterday at #linc and also for you to share your thoughts here today.

  • It also has incredible power in influencing customer loyalty and affinity. In the past, people would bitch about problems with products and services to friends. Brands could never see that. They can not only see that now, but respond to it.

    And with the exception of customers who do so on a FB Fan Page or by tweeting the company directly, it comes as a complete shock to customers. Not only is their voice valuable, but it's valuable enough to the company that they are actively listening for any customers with issues. In the past, they would feel like “just one customer that this f'n brand could care less about.”

    As a community manager, I've seen this first-hand with brands I've worked for. I've seen them voice how amazed they are that someone from the company responded.

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