Ovum Research Supports Best Practices for Social Customer Service

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When an unhappy customer posts a complaint or raises an issue on Twitter, Facebook or any other social media channel, what kind of response is that customer expecting? A few years ago business leaders might have disagreed on whether it was appropriate to publicly engage with customers over social media, to the point of questioning whether complaints aired over these channels ought to be addressed at all.

The question now isn’t whether you should respond, but how.

It’s hard to imagine the justification for taking a completely hands-off approach until you consider how drastically the wide reach of interactive technology has changed our expectations as consumers. Whereas it was once considered “exceptional” customer care to respond to a negative comment or post, customers are now turning away from those that don’t. For example, a study conducted by New York University found that 88% of consumers are less likely to buy from companies that ignore their complaints on Twitter.

Individuals may not necessarily be making a conscious choice to reach out to a company through social media because this is their preferred “channel.” Most do not view communication channels separately in the same way that enterprises do; their priority is simply to have a problem resolved quickly and with a minimal amount of effort.

Customers want to feel recognized and valued. Timely social responses can improve customer satisfaction.

Once an enterprise has decided to implement a social customer service strategy, the following best practices can help ensure its success:

  1. Look for a social response solution expressly tailored to customer service. The right solution should allow you to route, manage, and automate categorization as well as monitor interactions.
  2. Encourage customers to access social channels for support, and offer guidelines to help customers safeguard their identifying or personal account information when seeking issue resolution.
  3. Collaborate across marketing and customer service. Define roles and expectations to determine how social media response will be handled across departments.
  4. Train agents on appropriate language and information to share.
  5. Proactively engage customers by using the social platform to inform them of issues and problem resolution times, as well as other relevant information.
  6. Measure the impact of social media programs on customer satisfaction through surveys and sentiment analytics, and periodically review the number of interactions across channels to evaluate customer uptake of social media.
  7. Connect social media with other channels so that agents can easily switch from a social interaction to a web chat, an email interaction, or a voice call.

While social customer service does not make sense for every organization, businesses should evaluate the needs and expectations of their customer base to determine whether they would benefit from this type of approach.

If you’d like to know more, join us for our webinar Nov. 12 at 2:00 p.m. ET with Ovum’s senior analyst, Aphrodite Brinsmead: How to Integrate Social Media Into Your Overall Customer Service Strategy. Register now!

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