Social Customer Service Expansion for Social CRM

In this new social media environment, Social CRM companies are expanding the traditional contact center to accommodate a focus on the customer, not the product offerings. The new social customer service function is very different.

In a study called Campaigns to Capabilities: Social Media and Marketing 2011, by Booz & Company and Buddy Media, respondents were asked how they used their top social media platforms. 75 percent said they used them to support their customer service function. They know that when customers look at a company’s customer service offerings, their expectations are high. If a company isn’t listening, it’s likely its customers aren’t buying.

We explain the following types of customer social sites:

  • Self-serve knowledge portals from a website: These are administered by companies and are usually part of their overall support system. They typically integrate with the CRM system. You would link to all your social media platforms from here. You may or may not house customer reviews directly on this site.

  • Community-based sites: These sites are overseen by companies and have the support of dedicated users who answer questions and provide content. To run these sites, companies use platforms designed by outside vendors. Hopefully, you can integrate them with your CRM system.

  • External customer review sites: These sites are run by independent companies that aggregate customer reviews and provide a place to vent frustrations and alert other customers to their opinions.

  • Voice of the customer platforms: Companies engage platform vendors who help them quantify and effectively capture the voice of the customer, or they create their own. For example, Adobe created an in-house program called the Customer Immersion Program.

    The purpose of the program is to help their executives experience what Adobe customers experience. They do such things as listen in on customer calls and search for product information on their website. The executives report that this gives them an eye-opening look at customer needs.

Customers want to be able to communicate in the way that’s most comfortable for them. For instance, if they prefer mobile customer ticket updates, they expect to get them. If they need real-time help, many times they want to use Twitter. This has created the demand for what is now known as the multichannel support center. It includes some of the following channels:

  • Twitter: This is a great medium for getting real-time support. It allows customers to alert a company that they need immediate help. Their expectation is that the company will respond and, if necessary, send them to the appropriate representative to get that help. Most problems can’t be resolved in 140 characters, but you can send the message that help is on the way.

  • Facebook: Customer service on Facebook can get chaotic because the News Feed mixes all kinds of messages together in one place. Companies need to monitor their News Feed to cull out the service questions from the other comments. Customers use this method, but almost no brand relies on Facebook for the bulk of their customer service.

  • YouTube: Some of the bigger brands pay to host a branded channel on YouTube. These branded channels pay more to be able to add superior graphic branding and features. Others make sure to post their training videos on the site with a link back to their website.

  • Mobile messages (SMS): With some systems, companies can send responses to a help ticket directly to mobile devices. This is most useful in the case of emergencies with IT and other problems that affect critical business functions.

  • Blogs: If customers aren’t sure where to go, they may come to a company blog and leave a comment, but the best type of service a company can provide from their blog is links to all the support information available. They can also establish company experts from this venue.

  • Community-based help: Companies establish platforms that support the interaction of interested users. This method is gaining favor as more tools become available.

  • E-mail: The media keeps heralding the death of e-mail, saying it’s old-fashioned and doesn’t provide the kind of engagement other social media channels can offer. But in the customer service realm, e-mail serves an important function. You can e-mail customer service ticket resolutions and other communications directly to users.

    Remember that not every customer is immersed in social media. You need to think about making sure you keep up with them using their preferred engagement method.

  • IVR (interactive voice response): This is probably the customer’s least-liked method of interaction. It’s the one that uses voice-recorded messages like “Press one for customer service.” Tales abound about customers getting into multiple loops that never end. Nevertheless, companies still rely on this for their customer service program. The use of this service will probably diminish as social media channels take over. Interactive voice response just isn’t personal enough.

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