Social Customer Care Practices of 7 Consumer Electronics Leaders


Share on LinkedIn

In the make or break world of customer service, forward-thinking companies are always on the lookout for the latest tools that will give them a competitive edge. A growing trend is offering customer support through social media networks. This form of “social care” can provide instant customer service.

Our recent survey of seven Fortune 500 companies in consumer electronics showed that industry leaders like Apple, Dell and Best Buy recognize the shift in how consumers want to communicate with companies. As a result, they are rethinking how and where they interact with customers.

The figure below shows where these seven brands have launched corporate-branded social profiles dedicated to customer service as of the study timeframe in May 2011.

By analyzing 10,000+ social care posts for these seven brands in a one week period, we found the majority of companies provided their support efforts through Twitter. However, their strategies varied according to business needs and their individual approach to customer service. Brands that used a mix of tools rated highest.

Still, different social strokes for different folks. Google’s experience provides an example of a brand that takes a proactive approach to social care, and uses its YouTube channel as a home for information and “how to” videos. Customers find simple, clear instructions, as the visual format makes it easier to understand solutions that are often technical. Of all of the companies observed, Google is realizing the greatest benefit of using YouTube videos to serve its customers.

Some of the brands established support forums where assistance was provided by other customers rather than by company employees. Take the HP Facebook Support Forum, which is the most active Facebook customer service platform of the companies benchmarked in this study. In just one week, there were 1,760 customer posts—an average of 250 posts per day! The quick and easy customer-to-customer interaction had no involvement from HP. With a high level of daily forum activity and few negative comments about HP, the company’s strategy of leveraging the knowledge and experience of other customers to answer questions and solve problems is a successful one. HP doesn’t intrude on any of the conversations but monitors and archives them providing a growing hub of organic product information. To complement their Facebook presence, HP encourages “customer to customer” product support on its Twitter profile as well. This continues their theme of using customers to provide social care.

While each of the seven companies has a defined social care strategy, my choice of best practices include:

Best Practice 1: Build Cross-Functional Team

Before launching a social care program, you should focus on building a cross-functional team. At a minimum, your team should include people from each of the following departments, in addition to customer service:

  • Marketing—having someone from Marketing on your team can help you promote social support within your company and can offer advice on the best communication styles
  • Legal—a representative from Legal can help you map out social media policies that will direct how your agents respond online
  • HR—it can be useful to enlist HR in defining hiring profiles and setting training standards for your agents

Best Practice 2: Train Agents in Social Communications

At the outset, you should identify the most appropriate communications style for each social channel you will be using. Your agents should be trained to respond in a way that fits with the character of the brand while still adhering to established protocol.

Best Practice 3: Create a Response Map

Create a response map to guide your social CRM strategy, which ensures quick and accurate delivery of information to your customers. This also reduces the risk of erratic responses and makes the entire process more efficient.

Best Practice 4: Follow Through to Resolution

Follow through on conversations by keeping your social channels current and responding to customers in a timely and professional manager. Agents need to be trained to follow the conversation with the customer through to resolution.

Best Practice 5: Be Proactive

Provide proactive social care wherever possible. Training your agents to spot problems before they become widespread and contacting customers before they contact you can help ensure a customer’s frustration doesn’t escalate.

While social care is still in its infancy, there is a lot we can learn from early forays into this area of customer service. The best practices I have outlined above can assist companies of all sizes in integrating social care into their overall operations in a format that works best for them. If implemented effectively, social care has the potential to boost and lead overall brand perception. Businesses need to recognize the brand building opportunity that social customer service represents.

Further reading: Benchmarking Social Media Customer Service: Uncovering opportunities & best practices for social care (free registration required)


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here