Social customer service; a place for brand terrorists or an agent’s best friend?


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We live in a fickle and demanding world where customers have little loyalty to us but they expect a lifetime of guarantee on the item they purchased, no matter how small. If customers don’t get an immediate response or don’t get what they feel is due to them they can tweet about it, Facebook it, share it with their Google+ circles and about 900 other different ways. It’s kind of scary when you think about it, isn’t it? It’s downright terrifying for call center agents just trying to do their jobs.

We’ve written extensively about the pros and cons of social media customer service. On one hand it can augment the customer experience, offloading some of the common service/support questions that clog your call center by having those questions answered online. Conversely, many ‘terrorist-like’ customers gain quick fame using social media to get attention when their unrealistic customer experience expectations were not met.

Regardless of what side of the fence you’re on, time is wasted when you “chase the smoke” on social media and get caught up responding to the individual catty comments instead of focusing on the larger conversation. We’ve gathered some of our top stories discussing the pros and cons of social media customer service for you to decide for yourself. Do you have an interesting social customer experience story to share with me? Tweet me @jodiemonger!

Here’s a hint: it’s not your company’s web site. We’ve all been there. Frustration after a poor IVR or call center agent experience makes it seem simpler to go online to see if you can solve your product or service questions yourself. Studies show that frustrated customers turn to social media channels to look for help. More often than not customers are going online – and not to your web site.

Everyone seems to be using social customer service to gauge customer sentiment, manage product and service issues, and follow up with customer service complaints. The focus on social media strategies is overwhelming to many organizations but of even more significant is the lack of Social Media Business Intelligence. Why are you monitoring and gathering all of that consumer data if you cannot do anything valuable with it? For any business project don’t you need to prove the value of the effort and investment?

It’s time to get a new TV so I went to my local electronics store see the choices. I wanted to compare the options and then select which model, brand and type would best suit my needs. I found a store salesperson that walked me through the choices and we focused on several models that would be ‘perfect’ for me. We talked for about 15 minutes and I was left to make my decision.

So you use skills-based routing for your call center, but your organization doesn’t think it’s necessary to apply the same principles to social CRM to be successful? Sure, the marketing department may be responsible for promoting products and service offers online, but it’s a big stretch for them to handle complex customer service issues on your social service channels.

We live in an age of instant gratification and that most definitely applies to customer service. We expect good service when and how we want it, 24/7. An immediate tweet back. A fellow Facebook fan sending across a helpful link. We have gotten used to speed and come to expect it, nay demand it, sometimes at the expense of good, complete customer service. In a nutshell, we in the customer service business have created a monster that is scary (and hiding under our beds!).

Too many customers are gaining fame by attacking companies because their unrealistic customer expectations were not met. The fires are fueled by our unquenchable thirst for sensational news stories so these irate customers show up on our TVs lamenting about how they’ve been wronged (in their minds) and how the big, bad company should pay. Don’t we all take pause and listen? Facebook campaigns sprout up overnight calling for the ousting of the company head in question, and tens of thousands of uninformed folks hop on the bandwagon.

The CRM business has matured beyond simply gathering contact data to a more sophisticated approach to understanding customer needs, business issues, opportunities and competitive threats, said FirstRain CEO Penny Herscher. “What is happening in your customers’ ecosystems could affect your strategy in selling to them.” Yet many companies are running scared due to social media.

Want one of your social customer service stories highlighted on this blog? We can protect the identities of the parties mentioned. Just contact us or send your social customer service stories to [email protected].

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jodie Monger
Jodie Monger, Ph.D. is the president of Customer Relationship Metrics (CRM) and a pioneer in business intelligence for the contact center industry. Dr. Jodie's work at CRM focuses on converting unstructured data into structured data for business action. Her research areas include customer experience, speech and operational analytics. Before founding CRM, she was the founding associate director of Purdue University's Center for Customer-Driven Quality.


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