10 ways to move towards connected customer service

10 ways to move towards connected customer service

October 4th, 2012

Social media is the new normal. A myriad of social networks, whether you use them or not, are now part of the day-to-day digital lifestyle with Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Youtube among others becoming the places where your customers connect, communicate, and engage around experiences. Every day, an increasing number of connected consumers are taking to social networks to ask for help or express sentiment related to business or product related experiences; some do so to seek resolution from their peers, others broadcast questions or comments as a form of catharsis; and a smaller group of consumers actually hope to receive a response directly from the company.

Recently, Sitel and TNS released a study of social media customer service to explore the growing trend. The report features the responses of more than 1,000 consumers in the U.K. and while still nascent, we see a landscape that is shifting beneath our feet. What’s clear is that consumers are becoming more connected. Traditional call centers and knowledge bases work as designed, read…as best as they can considering the circumstances. Traditional customers are no longer alone in their role in defining markets.

Connected consumers think and behave differently. When faced with a problem or question concerning a product, traditional customers will first seek out resolution through traditional service means. Connected customers, on the other hand, will either first express dissatisfaction to their friends in a social channel and/or proceed to search for or ask peers and companies for help in online communities or social networks.

Seven-percent of individuals age 16-24 will first complain in social media and 71% will search for a solution online before they relent and contact the company directly. The idea that connected consumers will first share negative sentiment to a group of hundreds or thousands of people will eventually play a role in the overall perception of the business.

As you rethink the future of service, you cannot lose sight of your traditional customers. At the same time, you must bring connected customers into view. No need to reinvent the service center yet. However, listening, learning and adapting starts with research. To better understand the extent of your connected customer behavior, start with these tips…

  • Use a social media listening service to see what people are saying today. If you don’t have access to budget or existing tools, try SocialMention, it’s free.
  • Observe the frequency and reach of service-related mentions. Prepare reports based on your findings and share with key stakeholders. Here’s a free template to help get you started.
  • Are there any trends related to the mentions? Do they require direct engagement or do they offer insight to improve experiences.
  • Develop an ongoing listening and alerting system. It will only get louder as time progresses.
  • Implement a triage and information process to get information in, to the right people, and back out to customers.
  • Establish roles and responsibilities.
  • Learn and Adapt. Improve products and services based on insights.
  • Stay integrated. Make sure that social and call center teams communicate knowledge and best practices.
  • Be proactive. Don’t just address negative commenters or those with questions, engage those who are positive as well.
  • Host forums or town halls to get ongoing input and direction to improve…everything.