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Twitter Customer Service (almost all social platforms for that matter)

November 3, 2015

Long time no publish, sorry.

Folks continue to give feedback and input on how to practice/execute Customer Service on Social Media, especially on Twitter and it is typically the same song and dance. That’s OK if that’s what you are looking for, but sometimes you just want the simple tried and true details of what is possible and what works.

Well, here they are (my opinions of course):

  1. Hire the “right” agents – absolutely critical since you will be asking so much from them
  2. Train them to meet the needs of your business, your brand AND your customers
  3. Measure their performance, measure their adherence to your plans and support them when they need it
  4. Staff them when your customers need them (you may need to monitor prior to full launch)
  5. Answer the customers questions, simple. Do not just send them a link, answer the question directly as best as possible
  6. Don’t just send a link, that is not an answer, if you can include a link, do it, but only after you answer them first
  7. Answer your customers quickly, time is critical and responding outside of 30 – 60 minutes will more than likely result in a follow-up asking where their answer is (more work that you will need to deal with)
  8.  Measure your success in responses, accolades and your response time
  9. After ALL of that, adjust where needed, things change all the time and flexibility is critical

Some of this you have heard before, but there are downsides if you don’t hire the right people, respond quickly and just provide links in responses vs. directly answering the question.

Go forth and support your customers to the best of your ability and they will be loyal to you, your brand and what you are trying to do.

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Matching a Tweet to a Paying Customer

January 15, 2015

A lot is written about how brands need to “personalize service” and I agree, but what some (I think) forget to understand is that that is really hard to do. Yes, CRM is a must now and in the future to be able to do this successfully, but the “how” is the real struggle.

  1. What is the benefit to a customer for a brand to associate a customers Social presence with that of their internal account system?
  2. Does a customer need to agree for a brand to do this?
  3. Does a brand need to ask permission to do this?
  4. Does the brands social listening tool interface to their CRM and billing system OR is this a manual connection completed by a human?
  5. Do customers even care if this occurs? (yes, I understand the transparency aspect, but do you as an individual really care if this happens?)

These are just some simple up front questions that should be considered and solved for. If brands really want to customize the customer experience and personalize their service for their customers, than the above questions and many others will have to be addressed.

Since those of you that may (or may not) read this work in this space to an extent, you probably don’t mind (for the most part) if a brand you do business with (or pay a bill to) does this. But for those that do not live and breath this everyday there are probably privacy concerns or at least perceived privacy concerns (think big brother watching type of thing) if brands do this without notifying them. I think if you add value and ask up front and present the benefits (I hope there are benefits) of connecting these 2 entities together, than customers would be willing to have their social lives connected to their paying lives of the brands they do business with.

Please let me know what you think or have done in regard to this and what the outcomes have been? I think this is a topic that is glazed over without truly understanding that most systems do not speak to each other and assume customers are OK with brands doing this without notifying the customer.

What do you think?

Social Support @ Big Corporations – Before the how to’s and stuff

January 9, 2014

The chatter seems to be picking up about Social Customer Care/Service/Support as it appears to becoming more mainstream at the onset of this new year. I for one am glad to hear it as this is what I do and hope to continue doing it.

The challenge I have with reading other posts on this topic is how easy people think it is, how they are quick to give you ways or top reasons/things you should be doing. The thing that is rarely talked about is before you even get here you have to have Leadership support, budget and resources to do it.

Leadership support is some cases is easy and in most/others probably hard since most of the folks in these roles don’t use these platforms and therefore don’t understand them OR worse yet, try to take the square peg and try to fit it into the round hole, it doesn’t work that way and will fail. Stop trying to contour Social metrics into call center metrics, it won’t work.

Budget is another steep hurdle to face. If you can get past the Leadership part you have a better chance in this step. You have to prove your case for doing this and again everyone tries to contort it to be just like the call center and wants to know how many calls your going to deflect, how much will the savings be. These are very hard questions to answer if you haven’t even started yet. Start small and do proof of concepts and build up your case from there. Network with others in and out of your industry to learn how they did it, trust me I wish I had done that.

Finally resources, this is the humans that will actually be doing the work responding to your customers. Don’t think just because they can type they are a good fit here. They need to have all the knowledge on how to answers the questions, this is true. But what they really need to understand is the nature of Social, do they themselves use it? Do they understand that what they say is forever now and it is to potentially millions and millions vs. just ONE? Can they take a complex answer and scale down to fit into 140 characters? But ultimately in my opinion is, DO THEY CARE? Because if this is just another “job” to them, than they are not the right ones for the job.

I appreciate all the ideas and how to’s and how we need to respond to customers quickly and accurately and all that, but let’s not forget the struggles that were tackled to get to that point in the first place.

Social Customer Service is NOT a Failure

November 10, 2013

There seems to be a lot of talk/chatter about how unsucessful Social CS is. Well, I personally think it’s still too early to say one way or another definitively if it is an overall success or failure in general. Sure, some companies do it better than others and sure some are still measuring the wrong things (I blame the old brick and mortar management for this), but at least they are trying.

When using “free” platforms like Facebook and Twitter to provide CS, those in the field need to remember these platforms are not set-up for this type of channel. If you have not tried to support a brand on Twitter or Facebook then you may not understand, but it sure is difficult to maneuver around a platform that is more designed for Marketing than CS. The same goes for Listening and Respond tools. Very few are truly focused on CS as the channel of choice and that makes it even harder to do your job in the CS world.

Sure there are some plain vanilla Social “metrics” you can look at, but it really is up to you the owner/practitioner to steer the conversation and leadership to look at the “right” metrics for your business. Sure follower count sure seems like a plan/simple metric, but if you are trying to grow your reach and raise awareness with people that this medium exists for them to use it is a useful metric to track. So is speed of answer or “AHT” in the call center, how fast you respond really does make a difference and should not be overlooked.

Of course Social Service is not a home run and the end all be all, but it certainly is not a failure and I personally feel that it will continue to evolve and show true promise and allow business to get better insights into their customers, it will just take time and maybe, hopefully one of the platforms allows for better use of their product as a proper platform for support.

Let’s just keep moving and trying and listening and re-trying and staying positive and things will turn-around and then maybe folks will stop saying it is a failure.

Customer Service 101

June 14, 2013

There has been a recent uptick (IMO) of Customer Service use within Social Media. I think that is great! I think there are untapped opportunities for Customer Service/Support within this area.

I also see challenges as everyone ventures into this field of play as well.

  1. You always hear/read about the “listen first” tactic. I agree with this, no need to jump in and then have to back-out because you didn’t know what you were getting yourself or your company into.
  2. Be genuine. I think this is vital to your entire program, if you can’t handle the hard stuff then why be there at all. Sure, there are somethings that are really sensitive or require in depth troubleshooting, then take those conversations private but start publicly if at all possible.
  3. Be quick. This I think is beyond important and not in the case of responding to say we heard you and are looking into and then never getting back to someone. Once you realize and have measured how much volume you are going to receive, staff accordingly. There are far fewer things worse than not being able to keep up with the volume of work because of staffing.
  4. Speaking of staffing, it all starts with hiring the right people. Zappos does a fantastic job in this arena and their stories have been retold countless times. If you don’t have a good fit then your team will not be successful. 
  5. Rules of Engagement. Have a plan on how you want your team to respond with “guidelines”, not verbatim what to type but outlines of how to respond in certain scenarios, trust me, it is well worth the time and effort putting that together.
  6. Managing the team, make sure the management team in place understands Social, the different nuances that it has and how it is NOT like a call center. This will probably be the hardest part of everything you do.
  7. It OK to make a mistake. To error is human someone famous said (can’t remember who right now). Mistakes happen, learn from them and move on. If they keep happening, well that’s an entirely different problem and needs to be addressed.

Just keep in mind that Customer Service, regardless of channel is ALL about helping your customer (or maybe your future customer or your soon to be leaving customer) answer a question or solve a problem with the service they pay for. Sure the medium may be typed vs. spoken, but the questions, issues and frustrations are all the same and the experience should be pleasant no matter what. Don’t make your customers jump through hoops because of processes or how behind in workload you are.

 

Let me know what you think, I’m sure I missed a few things (obviously) but the main point is keep it simple and help the customer.

Customer Service and Social Platforms

March 29, 2013

All the recent chatter is that Customer Service via Social Media is taking off or about to. I agree with that, I also agree with the comments around companies needing to step up their game/effort in this space. Where I see problems is I don’t see/hear the major platforms like Twitter or Facebook really enhancing their platforms to better enable this.

For example, Facebook recently announced replies and threaded comments on their platform. That’s great and it will definitely help brands get their responses to the original poster, but what most aren’t talking about is that these new features are only available on the web and not thru their API’s. Now for small business that have lower volumes of comments/questions this may be a doable thing, but for large companies that receive hundreds of comments/questions a day and have more than 2 people responding this is not doable at scale. Why aren’t people talking about this? Are we so enamored with the platforms that we discount these things and just assume large brands can use the web to respond to hundreds of comments?

Let’s be more realistic, when these type of changes are being introduced they also need to be introduced to their API’s so that large brands that typically use 3rd party aggregator systems can take advantage of them at launch.

Enough about that for now, I still would love to see these large platforms offer companies ways to use their platforms for Customer Service but also make their platforms more flexible to be used in that manner. I think all the experts continue to gloss over these points. Now, these platforms may be doing somethings to enable this but I have not heard about it.

 

Let’s hope we also include these things in future discussions when saying companies need to step up their game in this arena.

Focus On The Details

February 19, 2013

Too often we get caught up with measuring our work. Now don’t get me wrong, I truly believe you need to measure, but you need to measure the RIGHT things. The things that matter to your customers are the most important in my opinion.

Did you fully and accurately answer their question? Were you nice when you did it? Did you sound like a robot or did you personalize the experience? Did you anticipate other questions based on the original question? Did you answer it quickly? These are the ones I think are important, sure there are others, but if I could start a group from scratch these are what I would start with.

I am a proponent of Customer Service in the Social Media world. I think it has and will continue to force companies to up their game and be where their customers are and act in a more open world.

Now here is the kicker, Klout. We have all heard about it, more than likely you know what your score is, but does it really matter for a business? Do they post it on their website? Do customers care? Probably not, so why focus your attention on it when there are clearly more important metrics to focus on. Sure you can use it as a benchmark against your competitors, but that’s really about it (if that).

If you Pay Attention to the Customer all else will fall into place.

Just because you have heard of the latest buzzword in Social Media does not make it more important than the basics.