Three Social Customer Care Trends You Can’t Ignore

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Note: This post was originally posted on LinkedIn. You can find more of my LinkedIn posts here.

Social customer service was a big topic at last week’s Contact Center Expo and Conference. (You can read my re-cap here.)

At the conference, Susan McDaniel from Execs in the Know participated in a panel on social customer care where she shared some interesting statistics that really captured the audience’s attention. Afterwards, she was kind enough to give me a copy of the 2013 Customer Experience Management Benchmark Study that’s co-produced by her firm and Digital Roots.

Here’s a breakdown of three big trends revealed in the report. If your company serves its customers through social media, you’ll want to know about these.

Customer Care Involvement

One of the most promising trends is that customer service teams are getting increasingly involved with social channels.

The numbers looked bleak a year ago.

The Execs in the Know benchmark found only 10 percent of customer service departments owned social customer care. A Ragan study reported this number at 19 percent. Regardless of whose study you follow, the number was ridiculously low.

That number has jumped to 36 percent in the latest report.

It’s a step in the right direction, but it’s also a clear sign that many companies still don’t get it. The majority of corporate social media is still controlled by marketing (42 percent).

Two things happen when marketing dominates social media and doesn’t coordinate with customer care.

  1. Customer support issues go unanswered.
  2. Service channels offer an inconsistent experience.

Social media is social + media. It’s not just for marketing.

Impactful Customer Communities

Remember when everyone was talking about Web 2.0 being the next big thing? We envisioned a world of social interaction where communities of customers could help each other.

That was in 2004.

Ten years later, we may finally be getting serious, with 41 percent of companies hosting a community forum.

Customer service software providers like Zendesk are making it easier than ever to set up communities that put FAQs and customer-driven forums side-by-side. These communities can help customers get the answers they need quickly while reducing service costs.

The online student community at Penn Foster was recognized at the Contact Center Expo and Conference with an award for Best Use of an Emerging Channel. Two stats from their success story really jumped out:

  • Emails were reduced by more than 40 percent
  • Their cost per interaction has dropped an average of $1.06 per year since 2010

Reduced cost is enticing, but it’s important to remember that costs were reduced by making a community that people actually found useful and engaging.

Companies Slowly Getting Serious

This last trend is really a collection of metrics that suggest companies are starting to take social customer service more seriously.

  • 82 percent of social media engagements are made by employees (vs vendors)
  • 80 percent have policies about what conversations to engage in
  • 66 percent provide social media agents with training

All of these represent significant increases over last year’s benchmark.

Of course, the one that really jumped out was ONLY 66 percent provide social media agents with training. Apparently, the remaining 34 percent are left to their own devices. Perhaps figuratively and literally.

If you’re not training your social agents, you’re asking for trouble.

What’s Next?

Social customer service finally seems to be maturing, but it still has a ways to go.

Facebook is 10 years old. Twitter is 8 years old. More than 90 percent of companies use these channels to engage customers.

It’s about time more companies figure it out. Key areas for improvement include:

  • Faster response times
  • Fewer ignored questions
  • Consistent service quality across all channels

The few companies that get it right can really stand out from the rest that don’t.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

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