Video Replay: 10 Reasons Customer Care Has Changed and How To Build a Strategy

Responding to Customers In Social Support May Be Hurting Your Brand. Why?
You may be teaching your customers to yell at their friends in order to get your attention. You must develop a social support strategy that involves an escalation process, will scale, and use the right internal processes and software to succeed.



In the above recorded webinar, you can watch the replay and learn about the business case (why many companies have fallen down in social media crises) understand market data on trends on adoption rates and spending, and a five step escalation framework with over a dozen examples.
Follow a 5-Tier approach to Social Support
Above: The 5-Tier Social Support Approach

10 Reasons How Customer Care Has Changed:
There are some significant shifts on how the customer care organization must adopt, here’s what I’ve found talking to these groups:

  1. Responding to Social Customers May Hurt Your Brand. As stated above, any company who haphazardly responds to customers in social channels without a strategy may be encouraging customers to yell at their friends to get your attention.  This will only spiral down further and further.
  2. Outbound Strategy –not Inbound: Support groups must go where customers already are, and this means beyond the call center walls into social networks, third party forums, and online review sites.  At a minimum, they must monitor and develop a triage system.
  3. Linear Escalation Now Fragmented:  Previously, call center and customer care issues were cleanly routed into queues using support software, now, it’s dirty and messy as the social web is filled with unstructured data, multiple instances repeated across social networks, and a rapidly changing discussion in real time.
  4. Customer Woes Escalate in Public in Real Time. In a few of the most extreme cases like Motrin Moms or Dooce vs Whirlpool we saw these issues escalate during a weekend.  As a result, corporations must practice their firedrills in the anticipation of a Friday night crises before a three day weekend when executives are away.
  5. Anyone in Company can be in Support. Unlike prior years where support was often routed to trained dedicated customer care professionals, now anyone in the company can participate in online tools and support customers.  This poses significant threats and opportunities for scale.
  6. Customers Can Do Your Job For You: Similar to #5, companies now can tap into their customers (yes, those people who give you money) to do your job for you, but you’ll nee to provide them with service, recognition, and access.
  7. Must Factor in Social Influence –But Know When To Draw the Line.  While we’ve already documented the many examples of punkings, we also need to curb our instant reaction to catering to influencers as this could cause bad behavior from influencers in future scenarios.
  8. Special Treatment is Shared in Public: Related to #7, assume special treatment to angry customers is now public, as they’ll tell others around them what worked –potentially forgoing your business model.
  9. Support is the New Marketing.  As prospects read reviews from your existing customers, they will undoubltly read reviews on ratings sites, blogs, and forums.  Since we know customers trust each other often more brands themselves the support group is one of the most important business units in the company, and cannot be ‘swept under the rug’.
  10. Must Seek New Business Models.   Many support organizations are now profit centers, they generate revenues through service level agreements or upgrade and upselling.  Now, because customers can self-support each other, many support executives must rethink their strategy.  Savvy companies like Autodesk and Intuit have already integrate social support communities right into the product experience.

Resources (data, reports, lists) discussed in this webinar
There were a few resources I pointed to in this webinar, such as: the social media crises list aka known as the “Punkd” list, we’ll have a report diving deeper into these crises soon. Also see why website integration is a key priority in 2011 (data), and how companies are adopting the Hub and Spoke model (data), responding to influencers (a controversial topic) our research reports on the Career Path of the Social Strategist (report) and How to Budget for Social Business (report).

Also, if you wanted to learn more from Moxie Software (our hosts who made this webinar possible) download the PDF version of the slides, or get a demo. I’d like to thank Christine Tran, in our research team for her assistance.

  • Anonymous

    Nice list, Jeremiah. You’re touching on many of the pain points we see in conversations and work with our clients, particularly (these days) on Facebook. Among the questions we talk through:
    * How are you scaling staff for monitoring and brand response, including on nights and weekends? * Which customer service duties can/should be outsourced, and which should remain with you, the brand? 
    * When do you respond and when should you stay silent, either potentially customers to the job for you (your point No. 6 above) or to avoid hurting your brand (your point No. 1 above)?* How quickly should you respond? (considering both customer expectations and what’s manageable/reasonable from the brand side)* What is the appropriate tone of the responses?* Are there any regulations or requirements (such as for pharma) that dictate how or whether you can respond?* When is it appropriate to respond publicly, such as on the Facebook Wall, versus moving the exchange to a more private venue (email, phone, 1:1 direct messaging), and how does this differ by channel (DMs work well on Twitter, but are more complicated on Facebook)?
    * How will customer service questions and issues be escalated within the organization?* Should a worst-case scenario or crisis erupt online, who is on your crisis management team? (the team should include members across various departments of the company)
    Looking forward to watching the webinar, Jeremiah. 

  • http://twitter.com/iconic88 iconic88

    Some great learnings here Jeremiah. Thank you.

    Mahei [Sydney, Australia]

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  • http://twitter.com/evansdave Dave Evans

    So essential to understand and plan for the escalation from friend-helping-friend (which can directly drive call deflection, hence cost reduction) to direct support (and the opportunity for fee-based support contracts that represent upsell oppty’s.) Great post.

  • http://twitter.com/evansdave Dave Evans

    So essential to understand and plan for the escalation from friend-helping-friend (which can directly drive call deflection, hence cost reduction) to direct support (and the opportunity for fee-based support contracts that represent upsell oppty’s.) Great post.

  • http://twitter.com/mojohelpdesk Mojo Helpdesk

    Really interesting perspective. I think I agree with Joshua below that responding to customers through social isn’t going to damage your brand. It’s the not responding that does the damage. Putting interns, or inexperience people in social media roles will damage your brand. But, if you can find a person who is good at customer service, able to handle social media, and willing to be a face for your company, you can end up impressing customers and creating a positive perception of your brand.

    As with anything in customer service, it’s all about the customer experience and most are satisfied by the quick responses and personal touch that can be felt with social media.

  • Marquam Hill

    I do not believe the post meant to say that you should not respond to customers and fans via Facebook or other social networks. Rather you should be careful on how you choose to respond as it may be better to not respond at all if you fail in your response. Many owners, and managers do not understand how to listen properly to complaints and issues, instead they respond according to protocol or training (or the lack thereof).  In short you must involve yourself completely in social media or not at all. If you can not commit to Facebook interactions do not have a Facebook page until you are ready.

  • David Lowy

    Hi again Jeremiah, I really enjoyed co-presenting the webinar with you yesterday, and couldn’t agree more with your perspective that companies need to have a clear social media strategy to address customer issues and brand feedback for the wide variety of social channels.  These channels continue to gain greater relevance, and should be handled in a similar fashion as traditional channels when it comes to strategy and support, and social only works  when it’s oriented around users and the customers they interact with. For enterprises to create an exceptional social service experience, they also need to deliver an au pair experience via traditional support channels. Companies must take a holistic approach when dealing with customers, and handle their social media channels in the same way they handle any other traditional customer service to provide a great experience to end-users.

  • David Lowy

    Hi again Jeremiah, I really enjoyed co-presenting the webinar with you yesterday, and couldn’t agree more with your perspective that companies need to have a clear social media strategy to address customer issues and brand feedback for the wide variety of social channels.  These channels continue to gain greater relevance, and should be handled in a similar fashion as traditional channels when it comes to strategy and support, and social only works  when it’s oriented around users and the customers they interact with. For enterprises to create an exceptional social service experience, they also need to deliver an au pair experience via traditional support channels. Companies must take a holistic approach when dealing with customers, and handle their social media channels in the same way they handle any other traditional customer service to provide a great experience to end-users.

  • http://www.ivanwalsh.com Ivan Walsh

    The CEO of Starbucks responded to some upset tweep a while back, not once but several times. Even at the weekends….

    Was this great customer service and responsive?

    No, it’s madness. 

    The CEO of a large firm should NOT be manning the station responding to every whim, moan, and grip on the web. They’ve a business to run. 

    Customers are getting to ‘expect’ that this should be the norm. 

    It’s shouldn’t be and needs to be nipped in the bud, otherwise you’ll (the CEO) will get nothing done.

    Social media is important but when you start to get bullied around by a bunch of tweeps…

    Ivan

  • http://twitter.com/Collectual Collective Intellect

    I’ve read in a couple of different sources, which I can’t recall right now, that most customers still use the phone to contact a company to resolve issues with a product or service. Failing that, they then turn to social media to escalate. Of course, by that time most consumers are irate. I’m wondering if web sites and customer care centers need to be further enhanced or supported so that companies aren’t as exposed on social media. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://twitter.com/Collectual Collective Intellect

    I’ve read in a couple of different sources, which I can’t recall right now, that most customers still use the phone to contact a company to resolve issues with a product or service. Failing that, they then turn to social media to escalate. Of course, by that time most consumers are irate. I’m wondering if web sites and customer care centers need to be further enhanced or supported so that companies aren’t as exposed on social media. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://twitter.com/Collectual Collective Intellect

    I’ve read in a couple of different sources, which I can’t recall right now, that most customers still use the phone to contact a company to resolve issues with a product or service. Failing that, they then turn to social media to escalate. Of course, by that time most consumers are irate. I’m wondering if web sites and customer care centers need to be further enhanced or supported so that companies aren’t as exposed on social media. Thanks for sharing!

  • Paolo Mottola

    Agree with everything here except the notion that “customer care has changed.” The 5-tiers, the 10 list… all relevant offline and before Comcast was solving problems on Twitter and set universal customer expectations that would take a Delorean to reset. So, I take these as solid frameworks, just not unique to social, and I believe that the existing customer service strategies at mature brands won’t need big changes to adjust, just different access and some training for the same teams.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeremiah-Owyang/503291522 Jeremiah Owyang

    Great points Mojo.  I don’t think I was clear, so let me try again.  Responding to customers without having a strategy could result in endless 1:1 social support.  Companies must have a strategy, or they could potentially be teaching customers to constantly yell at their friends to get a brand’s attention. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeremiah-Owyang/503291522 Jeremiah Owyang

    I’ll need to conduct further research on this Collective, but I’d guess that customers are often bad mouthing the experience when they’ve no other recourse.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeremiah-Owyang/503291522 Jeremiah Owyang

    Thanks Paolo, business strategy is business strategy.  Despite that, we’ve seen a few changes when it comes to how fast these thing escalate in public, and how findable they are in this space, that’s unique.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeremiah-Owyang/503291522 Jeremiah Owyang

    Thank you again for having me David, I enjoyed co-presenting with you too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeremiah-Owyang/503291522 Jeremiah Owyang

    It depends on the culture and brand promise.  Michael Dell, Tony Hsieh, the CMO of Best Buy all respond directly to customers, and as a result, the rest of their employees know the value of customer service.  It depends on the culture. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeremiah-Owyang/503291522 Jeremiah Owyang

    Thanks Marquam that’s the point I was getting at.

    Joshua, I appreciate the thoughtful comment.  Just to clarify, responding to customers is good, but not having a strategy on why and how you’ll respond for the next 10 years in social channels is going to hurt more than help.  Companies need to recognize that if they respond to customers they may be teaching a number of bad behaviors.  It’s important they have a broader strategy in place –rather than reacting. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeremiah-Owyang/503291522 Jeremiah Owyang

    Thanks Bryan, appreciated!

  • http://www.ivanwalsh.com Ivan Walsh

    Would it not make more sense to fix broken customer support depts instead of monitoring tweets?
    re: the rest of their employees know the value of customer service
    but do they? 

    this strikes me of ‘closing the stable door after the horse has bolted’

    re: It depends on the culture.

    I agree but… that doesn’t mean it’s a wise business decision, it’s simply a reflection of the culture.,which is not always a good thing.

  • http://www.socialmediawave.com socialmediawave

    Good dialogue on the issues as usual Jeremiah. Social Channels whether listened to, monitored and used as a  “live” reponse are only as good as the workflow behind them. Facebook and Twitter don’t solve these challenges as some allude to.

    Adding a layer of integration makes sense, thus using social tools for what they are-tools. We are working with airlines and airports with the same goal of finding improvements in CSAT which reduce costs and find new “customer buy cycle aligned” opportunities-which presents organic sales growth upsides.

    You reference Moxiesoft, which is one of a few players in this space. We have chosen to partner with Eptica as they offer a few more strategic pieces we feel apply within our models.

    Thanks for sharing the top 10 framework.

  • Me

    You did a great job, the guy after you sounded really bad. He needs to make it less obvious he is reading from a script. I couldnt even make it through the last ten minutes.

  • Me

    You did a great job, the guy after you sounded really bad. He needs to make it less obvious he is reading from a script. I couldnt even make it through the last ten minutes.

  • Andrew Barnes

    A yelling customer is an opportunity. I’d rather they yelled at and given the opportunity to engage (and be seen to engage) than they went elsewhere. Of course this needs to be put in context and needs to be managed. 

    I think the ultimate point is that Social Media is just another channel that customers can choose. And many are showing it is their channel of choice. You are correct that a strategy is required so that when the Social Media engagement tsunami comes robust processes are in place that manage the engagement into the business. 

    Telling (teaching) customers to go away and call a contact centre is probably not the right strategy. If your competitor is engaging using the customer’s preferred channel of Facebook/Twitter etc. then you best be prepared to embrace those customers as well.

  • http://www.wilsonusman.com/ Wilson Usman

    I’m totally with you Joshua, you’re on point. Ignoring complaints definitely hurts the brand, just two days ago I bought a sandwich at subway and the meatballs we burnt, it kinda sucked, then I thought about checking to see if they had a twitter account, and they did. So I decided to put them to the test. I took a picture of the meatballs and sent it to their @subwayfreshbuzz account and up until now I have not received any kind of engagement. That’s all I really wanted to see, is a high or sorry about that, where did this happen or whatever. I know they to keep track of their tweet because I was going over their tweet and it was active. Unfortunately because of this experience they’ve lost a loyal customer and influencer. 

  • http://www.pinbud.com Chris

    Not just large corporations with lots of staff should watch their image on social sites, but small businesses too. And it’s not just FB and Twitter where comments burn quickly, but more permanent review sites where the comments are there to stay for years. So it’s amazing how many negative reviews or angry comments are there without even the business knowing about them. Or worse, they know but do not offer any explanation or recourse to their customers. Even worse are those starting an argument with an unhappy customer, trying to explain the other customers how they are in fact right.

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  • http://www.templatesforlife.com Marcia Trout

    The latest Airbnb case was the good example of the bad customer care policy. But from the other hand it was the good example of how to correct this mistakes and make changes.

  • http://www.templatesforlife.com Marcia Trout

    The latest Airbnb case was the good example of the bad customer care policy. But from the other hand it was the good example of how to correct this mistakes and make changes.

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  • Chris Nguyen

    Very interesting points, Jeremiah. People often think of  social networking as the main disrupter in customer support. However, I am curious to hear your thoughts on how real time communication such as screen sharing, VoIP, web cam, i.e. real time social collaboration aspects are affecting support channels.

  • http://web-strategist.com/blog Jeremiah Owyang

    Chris bud thanks for the comment.  At this point, my focus is on social support, however I recognize the cross-channel integration. With that in mind, we’ve found regulated industries tend to use social to listen, then shift to dedicated secure channels like email or phone, they don’t support customers on social channels for many reasons.

    In the end, marketing (and support) groups need to meet customers on all channels they are on.

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