Let me answer that with another question: Dare we suggest that social media has been an important catalyst to the customer-service digital transformation? After all, not only can today’s social media users collect information on literally any subject at any time, but they can:
- Broadcast their own experiences, for good or bad, with any business or organization.
- Quickly and easily gain insight into the experiences and opinions of people they know and trust.
And its prevalence is exploding. Check out the most recent statistics from the Digital in 2017 Global Overview report:
- There are 2.79 billion active social media users around the world, which is 37 percent of the population.
- Social media use increased globally by 21 percent, or almost half a billion people, last year; 22 million of those were in the U.S.
- The penetration of social media use in the Americas is 599 million people, or 60 percent.
- Users average more than two hours on social media every day.
- More than half a billion people – which is only half of all their active users – visit Facebook every day.
This adoption of social platforms is both making and requiring business practices to become increasingly transparent. Few things are more public than the Internet, and communication happens in real-time. In other words, you have little margin for error. And for customer service specifically, there is a time-critical corollary to these trends: Your customers can reach out to your business at literally any time – and when they do, they expect results quickly, even outside of regular business hours. In a recent study conducted by Edison Research, 42 percent of consumers expect a response within 60 minutes of an inquiry launched on a social channel; furthermore, 57 percent expect the same response time at night and on weekends as during normal business hours.
However, actively listening to and engaging with customers in a timely fashion speaks volumes about your dedication to providing the kind of customer service that can turn disgruntled customers into happy ones who may even become your brand advocates. Toward this end, sales and support agents are beginning to use a wider arsenal of communication tools: voice, video, email, IVR, Web chat, virtual assistants, bots, collaboration and file sharing, and social media. Here are some points to keep in mind as your company works to stay abreast of this digital transformation:
- Commitment to meeting the demands of customer service through digital media requires company-wide participation. Senior managers need to offer real support and resources to build and sustain a plan of action. Directors and managers must stay current on emerging trends while also managing processes and programs that include hiring, training, workforce management, and quality assurance. And supervisors should be prepared to turn the plan into real action: preparing agents for new responsibilities as well as coaching, motivating, and educating.
- Specifically, your social media team must have a deep understanding of your products and services along with the ability to respond appropriately. As necessary, hire for character, problem-solving skills, and temperament, then train them in corporate social media strategy, contact center policies, and best practices for customer interactions.
- A good customer-oriented company like yours already knows what product or service issues or questions are most often raised; use your social media channels to proactively share helpful information that improves the customer experience. To better set their expectations, this information should feature your social media access schedule and the level of support that will be provided.
- Don’t let “TMI” apply to your social media channels. Not every social media interaction should be managed in an open forum, particularly when you have a particularly complex issue to address or an unhappy customer who wants to “share” their problem. Your plan should establish all points at which the front-line agent should switch to private communications such as email or phone. In these cases, a product like VHT’s Conversation Bridge can be particularly helpful; it provides your customers the ability to request a callback through any digital channel whenever is convenient for them.
- Record all relevant social interactions in your CRM – the same one accessed by customer service, product development, marketing, and sales. Over time, you should add social profiles to customer data to help you understand the customer experience in a deeper way.
- Social media customer service metrics should be tracked, measured, and analyzed to help you optimize the overall customer service program. Track the total number of interactions, interactions by social channel, resolution times, top inquiries, and issues by product. In addition, track feature requests, customer service experiences, and sales referrals over social media. Make sure these metrics are distributed regularly or are available to leaders in every department so they can spot any trends, positive or negative, that they should address.
Social media provides unparalleled opportunity for personalizing your customers’ experience. The benefits are clear: a better experience for the customer, lower times to resolution, deeper relationships, stronger loyalty, and ultimately more sales opportunities and higher revenues. Make sure your company’s social media plan is up to speed today.